Make Your Home Elder-Friendly and Increase Resale Value
Aging in place may be the last thing on your mind when you’re renovating a home, especially if you’re under 50. But not considering design upgrades now could be a costly mistake in years to come.
We’re not talking about wheelchair ramps or shower grab bars, but “universal design” elements—eye-pleasing choices that make your house more livable for anyone at any age.
By using universal design, homeowners are better able to remain in their homes as they age. These design elements can also make a big difference if you lose mobility as you age. Remodeling projects that use universal design often result in a higher sale price for the house. “People are used to seeing these livable features in upscale resort bathrooms, spas, and other public spaces, so they read as desirable, and valuable,” says Kerrie Kelly, design expert for the real estate website Zillow.
Design Elements to Strongly Consider when Remodeling:
A bathroom floor that continues straight into a walk-in shower without anything to step over is current standard at upscale hotels.
If you are remodeling the master bedroom and bath strongly consider including an upstairs laundry. As much as you probably hate climbing the stairs with laundry now, imagine the process in 10 or 20 years.
Most shared living-space renovations include removing walls between rooms to open up the floor plan. But even when the walls can’t come down, widening doorways to at least 32 inches—preferably 36—can increase flow and livability.
If you’re remodeling your kitchen, expand the pathways around the island to at least 48 inches wide instead of the standard 36, which is enough to accommodate party guests, as well as someone using a walker or wheelchair. Include varied-height work surfaces in addition to the standard 36-inch counter height, so work can be done while standing or sitting.
Doors and Lighting
Lever-style doorknobs are easier to use in old age. And by setting new electrical outlets 24 inches off the floor instead of the usual 12 to 18, you eliminate the stooping usually required to plug in a vacuum. Brighten up your home by adding recessed ceiling fixtures. Put them on rocker-style switches, which are easier to use; with a dimmer capacity, you can adjust lighting for different tasks.