Have you thought about remodeling for your retirement years?
Home is where the heart is for most residents of the Hawkeye State. It’s comforting, it’s safe and it’s where you make memories. But what about your home’s sustainability – or your ability to live there for a long time, into your retirement years? You likely expect your safe haven to last as far as you can see into the future, enjoying it with family and friends.
In January 2010, the first of 80 million baby boomers turned 65 years old, which means nearly 30 percent of the U.S. population now is entering their retirement years. According to a recent survey conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons, 84 percent of baby boomers would like to stay in their current homes during their retirement years, but only 16 percent have taken any steps to adapt their homes for retirement.
This home showcases solutions tailored to meet the needs of baby boomers
Remodeling magazine’s Home for Life project house, a collaborative effort of designers, universal design consultants, efficiency specialists and professional organizations, offers a variety of ideas that showcase the concepts of universal design and aging in place – an important topic for consumers and remodelers as baby boomers enter their retirement years in record numbers.
The Home for Life team began by constructing a 1970s-model suburban home and implementing updates based on aesthetics, functionality and efficiency. For example, hallways and doorways were widened and walls were removed to create a more open floor plan. Another facet of accessibility was the focus in the kitchen and bathrooms, with specially designed storage, drawer-style appliances and countertops and sinks installed at reduced heights.
Lowering the home’s heating and cooling costs for years through energy-saving home improvements was a priority too. The home’s performance got an update with the latest in energy-efficient practices and cutting-edge products that not only cut down on energy consumption but also can improve indoor air quality and the health and safety of occupants.
“It’s not just about energy-efficiency,” says Larry Zarker, CEO at the Building Performance Institute, which served as Home for Life’s high-performance guru. “It’s also about addressing health concerns, such as asthma triggers found in the home, and safety issues, including preventing gas and carbon monoxide leaks.”
Another concern was saving money and reducing hassles over time by choosing low-maintenance materials and products with long life cycles. Ingress and egress also were addressed, adding a side entrance with no steps and one-level access from the home to the back porch to the backyard.
What is universal design?
The most common misconception about universal design, says Herman Johnson, senior architectural specialist at Case and one of the project’s designers, is that people often think of it as something useful only to those with limited mobility. “The spaces are not just about grab bars and wide hallways. Many universal design features are very subtle,” he says, pointing to thoughtful details like raised front-loading washers and dryers that make loading and unloading laundry easier on everyone.
“We’re really after the mainstream audience by adding features that blend in,” says Richard Duncan, executive director at Better Living Design and another Home for Life participant. “Remodelers can bring clients features they’ll see in Home for Life that will work well and look great. They’ll be able to offer all these convenience and ease-of-use things everyone will like that also happen to work with them long-term.”
The resulting Home for Life is a design filled with ideas as beautiful and functional as they are adaptable. You can use the design as a template for your own project, or pick and choose the best ideas that fit your needs in creating your own home for life.
Take a quick room-by-room tour
This started as a typical suburban home from the ‘70s. Now it’s a Home for Life that offers a classic design packed with subtle features to enhance accessibility, durability and energy-efficiency – ensuring the home will be comfortable and convenient for its owners and their guests through every stage of their lives.
• While the front entrance features a typical two-step porch, a discreetly accessible side entrance includes a step-free walk and entrance for accessibility without the need for a ramp or lift.
• The kitchen offers enhanced convenience for every member of the family, through thoughtful details such as drawer appliances, varying counter heights and a wide range of storage options.
• An elevator provides convenient access to the entire home, but the master suite on the main level provides the owners with everything they need for single-level living.
• There are no tacky add-on grab handles here: A barrier-free shower, wide doorways, two-level vanity and discreet handholds provide complete accessibility in the master bath.
• By eliminating interior walls where possible, the home’s new design offers an open, contemporary layout that’s perfect for family gatherings and entertaining friends.
• A covered back porch offers an easy-to-access outdoor living area on the main level. It also enhances the home’s summer cooling performance by shading the house from the sun.
For More Information
Go to www.homeforlife2014 for a virtual tour of the Home for Life, as well as information on topics such as universal design, energy-efficient home improvements, sustainability and leading-edge products.