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Privacy and flexibility for family living

Cameron Sullivan
East Bay Times

In today’s family oriented Bay Area households, where several generations are more regularly living under the same roof, peace and quiet can seem elusive. For many, the cost-efficiency and long-term comfort of multi-generational living is a high priority. By closely working with a new-home builder to predict and design a home that will match a family’s lifestyle for decades, a new home can be the Bay Area buyer’s “It” home.

There’s no denying that even the most extroverted or family-focused people need peace and quiet and a place to recharge at home during their day-to-day routines. Answering the need for privacy and flexibility at home are several new home builders whose floor plans include standard or optional second master suites; attached suites with living areas and kitchenettes; or lock-off units complete with small kitchens and private entrances. Where space allows—either with acreage or by the efficient use of square footage in two-story elevations— builders are finding ways to incorporate up to seven bedrooms, including at least two with ensuite bathrooms.

Megan Gore, director of sales and marketing with Anthem United, which has its first closing on a Reflections house at River Islands in Lathrop next month, said that the response to the standard and optional suites has been amazing.

“The interesting thing about our Reflections community is that many of the new home buyers are coming from two or three separate homes to live under the same roof with more luxurious features than they’re used to,” Gore explained. Some families include siblings with their spouses and children along with a set of grandparents. “There’s enough room for everyone in the family,” she said, noting that homes with additional suites or other private living spaces are 3,000 square feet to 4,000 square feet. Anthem United’s typical lot size in Reflections is 5,700 square feet.

In the East Bay, some plans of Davidon Homes at Wilder in Orinda feature the option for private units with separate entrances. “It’s becoming more and more popular to request lock-off units,” said Marc Burnstein, vice president of sales and marketing for Walnut Creek-based Davidon Homes. In homes where lot size allows, a 500- to 700-square-foot cottage or pool house can double as stand-alone private living quarters. More common, however, is the attached lock-off unit. “We’re innovating more and more with lock-off units that are part of the home with a separate entry, living area and kitchenette,” he explained. “Those spaces are accessible both from the inside of the main home and from a secure entrance outside.”

With several builders, the sheer volume of options within the new homes shows a responsiveness to families’ needs. Park Ridge homes by Davidon in Antioch as well as Anthem United’s River Islands homes, for instance, include several floor plans each with several spaces for offices, dens, bonus rooms or standard and optional ensuite bedrooms. Key to navigating all the choices, said Gore of Anthem United, is for the new home buyer to open up to the builder about the dynamics of their current needs and ideal living arrangements as well as what they anticipate 10 or 15 years down the road.

Fortunately, she added, the options for a living room and/or kitchenette area in the guest or in-law suites are created by carving some space out of the closet in the suite, not the living space of the house. “It almost has a lock-off unit personality to it,” she said. Another option is an elevation with a secondary master suite over the garage. “The homes are also designed not to be overly deep, meaning there is plenty of backyard for entertaining along with a California room on each of our homes that’s a standard size.”

In many cases, new home builders are creating these additional living spaces as standard in their plans. It’s both a response to, and in anticipation of, the continued need for private living quarters to accommodate the evolving needs of Bay Area families. And even when additional master suites with ensuite bathrooms or suite-style living quarters are upgrades from the standard, the immediate flexibility and projected relative increase in home value can, ultimately, more than make up the difference.

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