Whether you’re moving into your first home, or the place you intend to retire, considering Aging in Place and Universal Design elements when moving helps ensure you’ll get the most out of your investment for years to come. So what exactly does aging in place or universal design entail? Aging in Place design principles strive to allow mature homeowners to remain in their houses despite physical limitations associated with advanced age. The goal of Universal Design tactics is to create a space that maximizes functionality for every group, regardless of age or ability. There are similar elements for both theories, however, that can help you select a new home to meet your long term needs. Read on as our partners at Beazer Homes share what to look for in a new home that will age well.
- How to spot a home plan that will age well:
- 1. Location
No matter what your age the location of your new home will likely be the largest factor in determining long-term happiness. Make sure that your new place is convenient to the things you most frequently do. School and work should be a manageable distance away and your new neighborhood should offer a sense of community.
Neighborhoods close to good medical care are important for those with young children as well as older homeowners who may need to visit the doctor more frequently. Learning about the area attractions around your new home like parks, walking trails and community centers better allow you to stay involved and active.
- 2. Look at floor plans for accessibility to most frequently used rooms.
Search for new home floor plans that offer a master bedroom on the main floor to avoid traveling up and down stairs and easy-to-navigate traffic patterns to other spaces within your home. You’ll want to ensure the hallways from your new home’s entry into main living areas like the den, kitchen and main bathroom(s) are wide enough for the amount of foot traffic you anticipate and wheelchair accessible, if needed.
- 3. Ample lighting for safety and functionality
When considering the lighting planned for your new home, ask yourself, “Will it provide enough ambient light for traffic as well as task lighting for work related spaces like the kitchen and home office?” If you’re not sure what type or amount of lighting is sufficient, check out this post on selecting the right light fixture for your new home.
- 4. Kitchen and bath layouts should help, not hinder.
To maximize long-term livability kitchens and bathrooms should be designed with safety and usability in mind. Look for bathrooms with large shower stalls to allow wheelchairs or built-in benches for those that can’t stand for extended periods of time.
Think about selecting flooring that will reduce slips and lever-style cabinet and door pulls for easier control than knobs. Also consider using comfort height toilets and drawer style appliances to reduce the need for excessive bending and reaching. These features are not only useful for seniors, but also small children and those living in the house with limited mobility.
The best way to ensure your new home is suited for your current and future needs is to look for a thoughtful space. Follow the guidelines above and work with your builder or real estate agent to refine your list of needs. There is a flexible floor plan design out there for everyone; the trick is to know what hallmarks to look for initially so that you’re not faced with a costly remodel or the inconvenience of moving to a new space that more adequately fits your current life stage.