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Building a Custom Home that Ages With You
As baby boomer aging has become more real, Kaufman Homes has become more aware of what should be done to make a custom home a place to age comfortably. Whether your goal is to build a custom home or remodel an existing home, we can enable you to live out the rest of your years without having to seek suitable accommodations. We also know that even if you are young now you will get older, you develop physical problems which may limit mobility or friends and family may come to your home and have mobility issues.
Single story homes have always been easier to age in place, but at least if you have a two story make sure there is a master bedroom on the main floor. Consider a home without steps, no sunken living areas; tri-levels are an issue, keep driveways to a minimum of grade for ease of driving up and ease of walking not to mention ice.
Don’t be moved by age. According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), older homeowners overwhelmingly prefer to age-in-place, meaning to live at home safely, independently and comfortably.
With Universal Design principals, this has become increasingly easy. You can make you custom home your home-for-life. The changes needed, often simple and small, are cheaper than moving into assisted living facilities.
I often hear people say: “Ain’t moving’ ‘til they take me out in a pine box”. As a custom home builder with over 30 years of experience, bad knees, and getting older, here are some things you can do to allow you to stay in your home and age in place.
- Installing grab bars in bathroom showers can ensure safety and prevent falls
- Front door, no steps into home
- Patio door-no steps out to deck
- Garage to house door- no step- garage floor is concrete, ground honed and sealed.
- Lighting, more of it and higher quality; color corrected bulbs help
- Contrast in surface textures and colors to enable you to distinguish between them.
- Compact fluorescent bulbs or LED lights, are cooler to the touch and energy efficient
- Scald prevention plumbing fixtures.
- Non-slip surface treatments in baths and bath rooms
- Electronic ignition to replace pilot lights, so you are not kneeling with a match and your reading glasses!
- Heights: cabinets can be designed now to be removed later to create an under the counter knee space to accommodate wheel chairs. Raise some appliances, such as dishwashers, to load and unload without stooping.
- If building a 2 story put a master bed and bath on the first floor.
- Design and install a low maintenance yard especially if you leave in the winter and go to sunnier pastures.
- Widen doorways and traffic areas to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs.
- Lever handle door knobs, put less demand on your grip, than a knob.
- Design space for anticipated live-in help.
- Build a network of support: gather around you now (through trusted referrals) the help you need for gardening, heavy house cleaning, shoveling snow, cleaning out gutters, find a good handy man service.
- Keyless entries mitigate forgetfulness and afford the ability to change locks easily. They also allow someone to drop in easily and check on you.
Upgrading and Modernizing:
- While you are at it…Green Up! Many of these changes also provide an opportunity to increase insulation, improve window quality, and use higher efficiency appliances. Sensitivity to cold increases as we age. (We are all familiar with Grandma’s house being very warm.) Furthermore, utility prices will only continue to rise. Commonly, adding insulation and other energy saving ideas costs only an additional 5%. However, the ROI (return on investment) is usually better than 8% immediately, and in the current energy market, even above that. These are also better selling features.
- Simple lawn landscaping is a major boon in at least three ways: your aching back, high water bills, simple or little maintenance and especially nice and cost effective if snow birding in the winter.
Remember, with a little planning, you can live at home and live well…for many years to come. Kaufman Homes has incorporated a lot of these features in many of our past custom homes and has learned a lot of valuable lessons. Plan for now if you are older and if younger incorporate these things because sooner or later you will need them. Consider that friends, relatives and colleagues may be handicapped and will really appreciate the accommodations.