The Guide to Designing a Multi-living Home

Multi-living homes allow families to live together while still having their own space. We explain how to custom design your multi-living home to suit your family’s lifestyle and budget.

Multi-living homes open up all sorts of opportunities for families to live together while still having their own space. We interviewed Senior Designer Wendy King from Landmark Homes North Shore & Rodney about the process of designing a multi-living home.

With the New Zealand property market at an all-time high, many would-be buyers are being priced out of the properties they want. Multi-living offers a practical solution to this predicament: Families can pool their money, buy land, and build together – getting more for their investment than they could afford alone. It’s no surprise then that the popularity of multi-living homes is on the rise.

Landmark Homes offers several ready-to-build multi-living plans, including the Forte, Hukanui, and Octave. Though most clients ask us to design their dream home from scratch, these plans are pre-costed and ready to go, providing a useful conversation starter and benchmark for discussing options and showcasing creative living solutions.

So, what do you need to consider when designing a multi-living home?

1. How much land will a multi-living home require

A custom-designed multi-living home with 5 to 7 bedrooms would ideally have a 300m² to 400m² footprint.

“Often, you’ll find these larger footprints on semi-rural sites, lifestyle blocks, or older sections where you remove and rebuild the existing home. A multi-living home can be built on a smaller section – and we have some house plans at only 169 m² – but you have to be creative with shared living spaces to make it work.”

2. What is your family dynamic

Multi-living designs are usually born out of necessity, says Wendy. The amenities you should include in your design will depend on how many extra people you need to house and who they are, e.g., whether they’re grandparents or grandkids.

But beyond that, explains Wendy, “The family dynamic will also necessitate certain decisions. For example, whether you can all share a single kitchen or whether that will cause conflict, so you need a second kitchen or a large adjoining scullery.”

Top Tip: Make sure you agree on (or are ready to reconcile) design aesthetics.

“The biggest challenge of design is to meet all the needs of various people,” says Wendy. “With multi-living, that’s especially true!” Sometimes, the person paying the bulk of the bill will have the final say, or each person or group could choose colours and fittings for their area.

“It takes a particular type of family group to live in the same house. People who can’t agree probably shouldn’t choose to live together,” she warns, “though people who choose to live together are probably in sync with each other to some degree. That’s certainly what I’ve seen designing multi-living homes for people over the years.”

3. Do you need a minor dwelling, or you can do without?

Minor dwellings provide self-contained accommodation that can be used to house extended family or guests or even generate revenue as a short-term rental. Integrating a minor dwelling into your house comes with additional costs, including compliance with fire and soundproofing ratings, and in Auckland, you’ll pay a development levy of $12,000 to $20,000 on top of that.

Because a minor dwelling may not be larger than 65 m², it will have a very high cost per square metre, given that it must have its own bathroom and kitchen in that small space. The upside is that the dwelling is lettable, so you’ll have the opportunity to earn money from your home in the future.

“At the end of the day, designing a multi-living home is about finding creative solutions that allow people to live together.” – Wendy King

4. Is your proposed multi- living design realistic for your budget?

Designing your multi-living home always comes down to balancing what you want with what you can afford. That’s where Landmark Homes comes in! We have the knowledge and experience to custom-design a property built specifically for you, your family, and your needs – and the ability to manage your budget throughout the process.

“Our in-house designers and consultants can accurately cost your build to help you make design decisions so that by the time we get a design and budget you’re happy with, the two things are in sync.

No idea what your dream design might cost? When you first contact your local Landmark Homes, a New Home Consultant will talk to you about your budget and what you want to achieve. Then we’ll give you feedback on what it would cost to create that – or suggest clever ways to cut back on costs with modifications to the design, materials, or build.


Client Showcases

See some of our creative design solutions…

Three Generations Under One Roof


multi-living design

At 405m², this large home was built to accommodate three generations living under one roof. The left wing houses the daughter, her partner, and their four children while the central living, dining, and kitchen area is for everyone to use. The right wing is where the mother and father live, with a bedroom for the grandmother and one more for guests.


Two Generations in One House


multi-living design


This home’s left wing was built for the daughter, her partner, and their kids and includes a game room and bar. In the right wing is a master bedroom with an ensuite bathroom for the mother and stepfather plus another bedroom for guests or visiting family. This clever design also features a scullery that serves as a second smaller kitchen, complete with a toaster and microwave oven for the kids to make their breakfast.


Double Kitchen and Tea-Making Facilities


multi-living design


The mother and daughter occupying this custom multi-living design are both avid cooks, so the plan essentially has two large kitchens, separated as a kitchen and scullery. The brother occupies bedroom 5, which has its own lounge with tea-making facilities (a sink, kettle, and cupboard), and the daughter has the bedroom on the right. Mum and Dad are on the left, and bedrooms 3 and 4 are for visiting family or guests.

Want to custom-design your own multi-living property? We can help. Contact your local Landmark Homes franchise or download our Multi-Living eBook for inspiration.