All in the family

All in the family

A Toronto builder is making homes specifically designed for multiple generations, each in their own space, all under one roof

THE CONCEICAO FAMILY: Isabela, 16, Sofia, 28, Cecilia, 78, Lourenco, 84, Ana, 52, Mark, 49, Carla, 26. All but Carla, who lives in a downtown condo, will move under the same roof when their custom-built Flex Houz is finished later this year

The Conceicao family has always been close. In the 1990s, Lourenco and Cecilia arrived from Macau, settling first in North York and eventually buying a five-bedroom house in Pickering. For decades, the home was the gathering place for weekly dinners for the extended family, and eventually their daughter, Ana, bought a house around the corner so she’d be close.

By the spring of 2018, Lourenco was 84 and Cecilia was 78, and the house was too much property for just the two of them. Plus, Lourenco was having difficulty with the stairs. But they weren’t interested in a retirement community. Ana and her husband, Mark, didn’t want that either. They wondered about buying a place that could accommodate all four of them, plus two of Mark and Ana’s three kids (Carla, 26, lives downtown in a condo). They knew they’d need at least $1 million to afford anything substantial. The Conceicaos also felt it was important to have their own living space to give their daughter and son-in-law some privacy. Mark and Ana toured a few homes, but none of the configurations they saw worked.

They considered adding a one-bedroom suite at the back of the Conceicaos’ home, which sat on a lot large enough to comfortably fit the addition. That way, Mark and Ana could live in the main house while Lourenco and Cecilia, who needed less space, would move into the new space. When a contractor quoted $300,000 to $500,000 for the extension, Mark and Ana decided to keep looking.

Mark, Ana, Isabel and Sofia will live in the two-storey main space, while Lourenco and Cecilia will occupy the smaller unit

In September, Ana and Mark got an email from Marshall Homes, a GTA-based construction company offering something they called the Flex Houz package. It was a new-build two-storey home that included an independent ground-floor residence, within but separate from the larger home. The total bill: $1.5 million for both the lot and the build. The idea originated in the U.S. and was brought north of the border by a GTA builder named Craig Marshall in 2018 in response to growing demand from Torontonians who either can’t afford a home on their own, need a place for their parents or kids, or both. The Flex Houz came in a pre-set floor plan that met Ana and Mark’s needs: a 3,352-square-foot four-bedroom for Mark, Ana, Isabela and Sofia; and an 875-square-foot one-bedroom with its own kitchen, dining and living area for Lourenco and Cecilia. Ana and Mark bought the last available one of seven on offer. Construction began in March, and the family hopes to move in by the end of the year.

Here are some renderings:

The main space living room
The main space dining area
The main space kitchen
The backyard
The smaller suite


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Seven Ways to Hack the Market


Part 1: The Skinny Dippers
Three buyers who scored narrow plots of prime real estate and found a way to make it work


Part 2: The Co-owners
These couples couldn’t afford much individually, so they pooled their resources and nabbed a gem in the Annex


Part 3: The First-Timers
Two young professionals needed a bit of help to buy a condo. Then they found Options for Homes, a non-profit that provides no-interest loans


Part 4: Microsize Me
A condo building that offers tiny living without the claustrophobia


Part 5: Young at Heart
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Part 6: The Year of Living Nomadically
My relationship had gone to ashes, my apartment to my ex, and I was broke. My salvation? Serial house-sitting


Part 7: All in the Family
This Toronto builder is designing homes for multiples generations, each in their own space, all under one roof