Rural living has unique circumstances when it comes to home ownership. Many farms and ranches are part of a succession plan and often can have more than one generation living off of the land. Things can get complicated when a change is desired or renovations are needed.
Here are a few different scenarios:
- The land or home may be owned by someone else. In that case you may be the renter or family member living in a home that is not owned by you legally. In that case, most renovations or changes would need to be approved by the homeowner.
- You live in a home that is to be given to you at some point when succession is complete but that can be complicated because although there may be a succession plan in place, you may not feel the home is yours yet.
- The home may be yours legally but you still feel that it is the “home place” to the entire family and they have a lot of input on what happens there.
This gets even trickier when the in-laws or parents are living nearby and they may not understand if you want to redesign or renovate when they feel they had things just the way it needed to be prior to leaving. It may be true that you don’t like the way grandma originally designed the kitchen and would like to gut it and start over. Or perhaps your mother in-law wallpapered the dining room a year before she moved into town and now you are afraid that if you remove it and she comes over for dinner there may be hard feelings. Or your great-uncle may have built that old barn which was fabulous in its glory days but now is just a safety concern and needs to be torn down despite his objections.
Family relations with home ownership/succession issues can get tough! Patience and open communication is the key.
Here are some tips on how to proceed:
- First, discuss it directly with the person who originally owned or designed the home and ask them how they would feel about the changes you would like to make. This gives them an opportunity to give input and you can make sure that their feelings are heard.
- Next, gently but firmly tell them the changes you would like to make and why. If they object, give them time to think on it and say that you will revisit the topic later. Give them some space to have their time to process this new information. Remember, at one point this was their home and dream too. You must be gentle and understand that this may be an emotional topic for them.
- Finally, set a time to discuss it again and firmly state what your plans are and why you would like to make these changes. State how this can benefit your family and the operation. If there are still communication difficulties, have a family meeting with both sets of spouses and calmly discuss. Even in a worse case scenario, there may be a compromise that could be made which would satisfy both parties so try to keep an open mind.
Can you relate to home ownership within a multi-generational Ag operation?
What are your best tips?
This post was written by a rural sister who wishes to remain anonymous at this time. Thank you sister, for sharing your thoughts and advice on such a sensitive subject!