Intergenerational Housing

“Let’s face it, we don’t have expensive housing in Australia, we have expensive land.  The average cost of residential land overtook the median cost of constructing a dwelling, across all Australian capitals, about five years ago.  The difference between the two is now considerable and growing.”

Michael Matusik

Intergenerational Housing

We are finding that more and more people are considering property development for the purposes of bringing families together in a completely different way to the traditional housing models of previous generations.

In part, this shift is a response to land costs and the inability of adult children to purchase property in the neighbourhood in which they grew up.

There seems to be a new way of addressing the issues confronting both older and younger generations using subdivision as a way to shift wealth.

Most commonly, these arrangements are around the gift of land from one generation to the next. In simple terms, this means mum and dad agree to subdivide the land on which the family home sits so that their children can build a home.

However, there are many different ways this can be done, and the benefits can be great.

Scenario One

Let’s say a family grows up in a middle ring suburb on an “average” 700m2 allotment with a traditional detached dwelling of three bedrooms and plenty of backyard to exercise the lawnmower.

Now mum and dad are older, maybe retired – or soon to be – the kids have gone to university and are now a little bit over the share house thing and are looking to settle down. They would like to settle back into the old neighbourhood but the cost of land is prohibitive.

In this scenario we are finding that the solution may be the subdivision of the family home into two or more allotments. In this way, mum and dad can downsize without leaving the area they know and love, and can give the children a ‘leg up’ on the property ladder.

Scenario Two

Recently we took on a project that essentially covers three generations and is all due to a family legacy.

The project brief was to retain and modify the existing dwelling and build two additional dwellings on a large (approximately 950m2) suburban allotment.

In this case the original house was left to the children after the parents passed away.

The house was sound and had sentimental value so it was decided it should be updated and retained. The two siblings to whom the house was left decided to also introduce a third generation (an adult child of one of the siblings) to also be part of their project.

So, that which started as a family home on a generous suburban allotment, will now house three families.

Scenario Three

It is becoming more common for families, and sometimes friends, to pool their resources to buy and develop land for the purpose of creating a viable housing option. It may be that by putting their lot in together they can afford to live in a location that is otherwise out of reach.

Let’s say three families or friends are looking to buy in the same area. They set down their goals and can then target the type of property they need in order to suit these needs.

For example they might each desire a three bedroom dwelling in a certain neighbourhood close to certain amenities.

They form an entity to purchase the property (or perhaps purchase as tenants in common) and they develop the allotment into three dwellings on three new titles.

Scenario Four

An intergenerational shared investment where mum and dad own an investment property and would like to help the kids out while providing for their own retirement income needs.

In this scenario the parents and their children come together to purchase and develop a three unit-development, or a dual occupancy project.

With the intentions clearly agreed at the start of the project, ultimately mum and dad end up with an investment and the children have a house of their own, with each securing their property for significantly less than they otherwise would. 


  1. Pooling resources is becoming more common in making a project more viable.
  2. Needs have changed and many people are happy with less land as long as they are close to the amenities that are important to them.
  3. We are living longer and the transfer of wealth is more commonly occurring between generations by agreement rather than by inheritance.
  4. Subdivision and design can help shift wealth from generation to generation.