Friday, July 22, 2011

Planning your new house for your later years

When building a new home or renovating an older home, you should always think about the future. Most of my clients that I work for are from the baby boomer generation, so they are in retirement or getting close to it. The work that we are doing for them now is probably going to be the last big project that they want to do in their life time.
When designing your retirement home, the one that you anticipate living in for the rest of your life you need to think about all the things you might need when you get into your 80’s and 90’s. With modern medicine helping people live longer and longer you have to plan ahead. That means that things that ended the life of people 20 years ago are manageable today. It doesn’t mean that there are cures but it doesn’t mean it’s a death sentence either.
So here are some helpful hints that you should incorporate into a new home or major renovation for the future you:
The first thing that a lot of older people have problems with is there mobility. So one simple thing that you can do is have your master bedroom on the first floor of the house. This allows you not to have to alter the house later with stair lifts; it’s a simple thing to do and is a major growing trend in houses today. It also allows you not to have to climb the stairs to do cleaning because everything is contained on the first floor. It’s a lot easier if you only have to venture up stairs when there is company coming to stay overnight then cleaning both floors every time you think it needs to be done.
If putting the master bedroom on the first floor isn’t an option then, design a room such as a den or study that can be converted into a bedroom later in life. If you are building a new home a simple thing to do is have the builder design a space in the home where a future elevator can be installed. It’s an easy thing to have done when the house is being built. All it requires is a spot in the house where there is about a 5 foot square shaft that can be created from the first floor to the second floor without having to change anything structural in the building. The only cost then would be the elevator equipment itself.
If you plan to have a future master bedroom on the first floor, then install a full bathroom on the first floor not just a powder room.
Ensuite bathrooms should have doors that are 36” wide at the least; you should do this also with the shower door as well. If you believe that because of past illness in the family that someone will end up needing a wheelchair then large doors are really important.
Instead of putting in a curb in your shower, install a hump. This does the same thing as a curb, it keeps the water from spilling across the floor, but it allows a wheelchair to be rolled into the shower.
When talking about wheelchair access the whole master ensuite should be built with a wheelchair in mind. You can install a lower vanity and sink, you should also leave a space in the middle of the room so that the wheelchair can be turned a 180 degrees and in the shower it should be made large enough to except a wheelchair and a helper. Installing a bench seat in the shower with a hand shower comes in handy, it allows you to sit down, without the fear of not getting back up, plus it’s great for women to shave their legs on. Having the builder install solid blocking in the walls for grab bar installation is a smart way to prepare for the future as well.
Design your decks so that there is a future space to install a ramp when stairs become difficult to negotiate.
You should also have your landscaping designed without a lot of steps, making your landscaping more self sufficient will help in the future when you do not have the energy or time to make it outside to tend to it.
 Having an attached garage with an entrance that has very few steps is a smart way to allow yourself to stay in your dream home longer. Even if you have a big set of steps to the front door, you should be able to drive into your garage and walk into your house with little effort and with very few steps. This will give you added years in your home.
Have an alarm system installed in your house when it is being built. You don’t even have to have it activated until years down the road when you think you need it. It will help you and your family feel better when at the touch of button, or even a voice command you can have an ambulance on its way.
There are other small things you can do to help yourself, have an instant hot water tap installed in the kitchen. This allows you to have a hot cup of tea or hot chocolate without having to wait for the kettle to boil. No more standing in the kitchen.
If you install structural wiring throughout the house, you can operate the whole house on a remote. So you can turn on the music or TV. without having to leave the room. You can turn the lights on and off at the push of a button, run the security, you can actually almost run anything electronics in the house from one remote.
So when planning to build or renovate your dream home remember that in the future there will be certain things that you will require. Proper planning will go a long way.
Rob Abbott
Operations Manger
Village Builders Inc.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post! It’s something I have never thought about, really, but it makes a whole lot of sense. Thanks for sharing information related to bathing solutions