These amenities will make the home more comfortable for all family members
Anyone planning a new home might want to consider age demographics. For instance, recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau projects the over-65 population growing from 47 million in 2015 to 71 million by 2030, and most older people who answered a 2016 survey by Home Advisor said they intended to stay in their homes as long as possible. These trends mean that a growing number of households will include multiple generations.
While most older homes weren’t designed for an aging population, it's not difficult to make a new home accessible.
The word "accessibility" makes some people imagine wheelchair ramps and institutional grab bars, but the truth is that a well-designed multi-generational space feels like a home, not a hospital. There are many creative ways to make a home feel welcoming to everyone, and as a bonus, accessible features provide an edge in the market when it's time to sell.
With this in mind, here are some features to consider for any new home.
A ground floor master suite: This belongs at the top of the priority list. Locating the most used rooms on the main level allows for functionality and easy access. The master suite's bath needs a shower with a tile floor that's nearly flush with the bathroom floor so that users don't have to step over a curb to get in and out. As for grab bars, the big plumbing manufacturers now offer models with looks that match specific fixture lines, so they blend in seamlessly.
An easy entry: Your builder can create a “zero step” entry by gently sloping a landscaped walkway from the driveway to an exterior door. It's an attractive alternative to a wheelchair ramp, and--if well designed--will look like a convenience, not an accessibility requirement.
36-inch doorways: In many homes, the only wide doorway is the main entry, but a true multi-generational home will have wide doors throughout so that a walker or wheelchair user can reach every room. As an added advantage, wide doors make it possible to move large pieces of furniture that might not fit in a room with a 30-inch opening.
Elevator: Residential elevators are a means of circumventing disabilities that arise late in life, plus they don’t have to look like typical commercial elevators found in office buildings. Current residential elevator design has effectively eliminated the need for an independent equipment room, thus removing one of the largest elevator related issues facing design professionals and homeowners - costly consumption of home square footage. The elevator shaft location can be easily incorporated into a new home or steps can be taken for a future elevator retrofit.
Lever door handles: Levers benefit older people with arthritic fingers, but they will also be appreciated by anyone who needs to get into the house while carrying an armful of groceries.
Visual contrast: Besides making life easier for someone with poor vision, good lighting and strong color contrast between wall and floor surfaces make for a more interesting space. The interior designer can arrange these contrasting elements to evoke nearly any mood, from joyful and energetic to subdued and serene.
Smooth, non-slip flooring: Eliminating carpet makes it easier for someone with a wheelchair or walker to get around, but it also helps keep dust and other indoor pollutants out of the air. Non-slip tile reduces anyone’s chance of slipping in the shower.
Amenities like these will enhance any home, but what if a family member has a permanent injury or a progressive illness? In that case, the design team working with a professional builder can collaborate with an occupational therapist or disability design expert.
The bottom line? Nowadays, there’s no reason not to have a house that feels like home and be a functional environment for everyone.
Brink Custom Homes
P.O. Box 1902
Tahoe City, CA 96145
(530) 583-2005 – phone
(530) 583-4405 – fax