BETH W. ORENSTEIN, The Morning Call
More than half of the designers surveyed by the National Association of Home Builders earlier this year said they expect the demand for two master bedroom suites in high-end homes to increase significantly by 2015.
According to the NAHB, the demand for two master suites is being fueled by baby boomers caring for their aging parents and by immigrant families where two and three generations want to live in the same household.
A few buyers apparently are requesting second master suites for spouses who snore.
Area luxury home builders said they have heard of the trend toward two master suites but aren't seeing much of a demand for that in the Lehigh Valley.
"You're hearing about more couples sleeping separately, but I've not had anyone ask me to build them a home with dual master bedrooms for that reason," says John Blair of Blair Custom Homes in Lower Saucon.
Tony Caciolo of Monogram Custom Homes in Upper Saucon says he has had requests for homes with the master bedroom suite on the second floor and a first-floor bedroom and bath that could become the master if the owners decide they want to live on one floor.
In that case, he says, "we do a really, really nice sized study with a good bathroom off the study that could be used as the master bath someday."
Caciolo says many buyers don't opt for the first-floor master suite because it's more expensive to build.
"Your footprint gets that much bigger," Caciolo explains. It's more economical to build two stories of 2,000 square feet than a home with 3,000 square feet on the first floor.
He often tells people if they are worried about their ability to climb stairs as they age they could always add an elevator.
"It's less expensive to put in a full hydraulic elevator and keep the master bedroom upstairs," he says.
Blair says he also has had requests to build separate in-law apartments and carriage houses on the same property as the main house.
In most cases, he says, people want the apartments or suites with kitchens and baths for an aging parent.
However, Caciolo says some municipalities are making it hard for homeowners to accommodate two or more generations. They don't want homeowners having a separate apartment even though it's for a parent because at some point it could be used as a multi-family dwelling, which is against the zoning.
Frank Alexander of Anthony Construction in Freemansburg says that if a family requests two master suites, one for the couple and one for their parents, the parents usually pay for the second.
That's good for the children, Alexander says. "If it's going to cost $20,000 more, the parents will say, "Here's the 20 grand.' The kid is certainly not going to say no because it will make his home that more appealing to the next person who buys it."
Copyright The Morning Call. Reproduced with permission.