Beyond the Bay: Multigenerational new-home living in pleasant places


For some new-home buyers, the greatest joy, excitement and comfort comes from including several generations of the family. And while home improvements might make an older residence suitable for multiple generations under the same roof, builders have cracked the code on multigenerational designs.

Over the past couple of years and into the foreseeable future, choosing an all-new home situated in a community that meets everyone’s needs can be one of the best decisions multigenerational families will ever make.

A multigenerational home can help families stay connected, provide peace and comfort, help with finances and deliver great spaces for everyone.
A multigenerational home can help families stay connected, provide peace and comfort, help with finances and deliver great spaces for everyone. Photo courtesy of Lennar Sacramento. Photo courtesy of Lennar Sacramento

Let’s explore how builders and their communities are defining the look and feel of multigenerational living in California. It’s taking shape in ways involving not only the homes and the families themselves, but the municipalities in which they live.

West Sacramento is a hidden gem for all generations

West Sacramento takes an active and inclusive approach to planning and programming for people of all ages.

“West Sacramento as a whole focuses on being a very age-friendly community,” says David Jans, a 20-year resident who volunteers as chairman of the West Sacramento Parks, Recreation and Intergenerational Services Commission. The name of the commission (PRIS) speaks volumes about the city’s inclusion of its youngest and oldest residents in programming decisions.

The city’s parks department operates the West Sacramento Recreation Center, a full-service activities, fitness and sports center catering to all ages. Amenities include pickleball and tennis; swimming pools for lap swim, water exercise and recreation; a cardio and strength equipment room; group classes; and a youth corner.

“West Sacramento is truly an up-and-coming city,” says Robin Ingram, a Coldwell Banker luxury agent who, along with Coldwell Banker’s Kim Griffiths, represents Parella Estates and its builder, Monley Cronin. “This is a charming community.”

The resulting improvements to services and activities will amaze the new residents of Parella Estates, a community of 26 semi-custom homes on 1-acre lots.

This community takes advantage of a location just a short distance from walking and bike trails, the West Sacramento River Walk, and Old Town Sacramento across the river. Residents will also find themselves conveniently located only a half-mile from the West Sacramento Recreation Center.

The builder designed each single-story, four- to five-bedroom floor plan with multigenerational living in mind. In each all-solar home, buyers will find either two en suite bedrooms or one of the home’s bedrooms privately situated away from the others and adjacent to a full bathroom.

“There are four distinct floor plans of up to 4,200 square feet of living space and multiple elevation options, so no two houses look the same,” Ingram says.

Plus, with 1-acre lots, buyers can elect to have the builder add a detached 1,200-square-foot casita that includes a bedroom, a living room, a kitchen and its own garage.

Several generations of a family gather together for a joyful summer barbecue, bonding over food and fun on their home's outdoor patio.
Several generations of a family gather together for a joyful summer barbecue, bonding over food and fun on their home’s outdoor patio. Photo courtesy of Jenuane Communities. Photo courtesy of Jenuane Communities

Add a unit to add a generation

Alternatively, California’s State Bill 9 (SB9) allows the addition of an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) to any California residential property of adequate size, setback and zoning requirements. Ingram explains that the Parella Estates properties more than meet these requirements, even allowing for pools, tennis courts and other features.

“When California’s SB9 took effect in January of 2022, people were able to add an ADU to their property,” says Kathy Anderson, founder of Danville-based Perpetual Homes ADU, which constructs and installs turnkey backyard homes.

“And more recently the Assembly passed a law that allows people to condominium their ADU, meaning it can be owned separately, not just by the primary property owner.”

Anderson explains that approximately 70% of the buyers who Perpetual Homes works with are adding an ADU where the older generation of parents can live privately but within reach of their children and grandchildren.

Typically, the lot on which the primary residence sits needs to be around 6,000 square feet in size. But on some properties with less land, Perpetual can avoid that land requirement by attaching the ADU to the main home.

“We designed these homes with our manufacturers to achieve the highest quality at a good price,” says Anderson, who has decades of experience in the homebuilding business.

“They range in size from 435-square-foot studio homes to 1,173-square-foot two-bedroom homes, all of which are built to green standards, have two-by-six walls and include solar panels nearly the size of the roof.”

In addition, Perpetual’s ADUs are built and manufactured off-site, leading to an approximately 30% reduction in materials used and waste created.

Anderson says Perpetual ADU works with buyers in any part of the state. Many of their projects are in Napa and Sonoma counties and they frequently work in Placer County and El Dorado County along with Contra Costa, Santa Clara and Alameda counties.

This multigenerational kitchen is part of the Plan 2 model at Cardiff at River Islands in Lathrop.
This multigenerational kitchen is part of the Plan 2 model at Cardiff at River Islands in Lathrop. Photo courtesy of Signature Homes. Photo courtesy of Signature Homes

Family-appeal homes come with urban flair

On the topic of Santa Rosa, many residents find the city and surrounding areas of Sonoma County to be amenable to multigenerational living. Among them are the people buying new homes at Grove Village by City Ventures, which opened for sale earlier this year and recently completed the first phase of the 136-home community.

“Buyers like Grove Village for its wider choice of floor plans, good amount of living space and features like big, private backyards, front porches, courtyards and local neighborhood parks,” says Kelly Nguyen, vice president of sales for City Ventures.

Grove Village, she explains, has all the sought-after features of a suburban lifestyle but with the benefit of modern, new construction in an area that’s thriving, active and has many urban conveniences. The solar all-electric homes also include built-in smart-home technology and energy-efficient features.

Of the six single-family floor plans, several have the option for a downstairs bedroom and a full bathroom. Many buyers use this space either as an in-law suite, a home office or a suite for a grown child. And all residents are thrilled about the location that has something for everyone in any age group of the family.

Residents enjoy several parks and recreation centers nearby as well as access points to the Sonoma County trail system for walking and cycling.

­Grove Village is only a few miles from the train and even closer to schools, dining and a locally owned market. A nearby shopping area within walking distance makes for easy get-togethers at the coffee shop or an independently owned pizza parlor, ice cream shop, taqueria and Chinese restaurant.

Cohousing builds collaborative lifestyle

There’s much to be said for people supporting their local businesses, community members helping each other, neighborhoods working to maintain lifestyles they appreciate and generations forming communities.

The philosophy behind cohousing builds on these virtues of European tradition that has gained popularity across California in recent years.

Jane Mueller, a founding member of Mission Peak Cohousing at Mission Peak Village in Fremont, provides a look into how cohousing works.

“Cohousing is a lifestyle and a real estate transaction that forms intentional communities,” says Mueller. “We like to joke at Mission Peak Village, you join a community and get a free house with it!”

She explains that Mission Peak Village is a condominium complex slated to have 32 private, fully equipped residential units owned by multigenerational neighbors who share a robust suite of amenities and a self-defined culture.

Among the shared amenities beyond the private homes is a clubhouse called a common house with an exercise room and guest rooms. The interior courtyard has space for barbecues, fire pit relaxation, children’s play and a garden. While each private condominium has its own kitchen, the common house includes a large, high-end kitchen for occasional shared meals and added convenience and cost savings per owner.

“Mission Peak Village is a great big U-shaped complex with a garden in the middle, so people’s units can look out to the common spaces,” Mueller says. “We’ll even have a workspace in the common house so that people who work remotely have a quiet place to go.”

“We’ll have a mix of generations by design,” Mueller adds. “Cohousing works best when we have people from all stages of life. We’ve learned from other cohousing communities that you never have to worry if you don’t have big plans for the holidays; there’s always someone to share time with here.”

A model of cooperation is central to cohousing. For example, one afternoon a set of parents may take work calls from the workspace while other residents who are retirees watch their children for a while. Another day, those young parents may offer tech assistance or help with heavy labor to those neighbors who occasionally babysit.

The complex is built in partnership with Cohousing Solutions, a cohousing development consulting agency, acting as a conduit between the community members and the city, developer UD+P and Berkeley-based Gunkel Architecture, whose principal has not only designed cohousing communities but also resided in one.

Mission Peak Village will sit within an established family neighborhood close to schools, transit, shopping, dining and the farmers market. Members hope to break ground in 2024.

“We’re near Fremont Central Park and its walking trails,” Mueller says. “And we don’t expect to be an enclave; we expect to be friends with the neighbors around us as well.”

To learn more, prospective buyers who are interested in joining Mission Peak Village’s cohousing group can ask questions in live, online introductions attended by several members. Following that, interested members can attend a neighborhood walk before a mutual decision to become equity partners in the community.

Wherever families want to live in and beyond the bay, builders and communities are ready with contemporary comforts for every generation in the home.




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