Broader Functionality Through Universal Design
For the second goal, we achieved functionality by incorporating universal design throughout the one-story home, making it possible for the owners to comfortably “age in place.”
Among the features we included were:
- Easily operated rocker switches
- Higher electrical outlets
- Half-step front stoop and back porch access
- Raised washer and dryer in the laundry area
- Intercom system
- Increased natural light from oversized windows
- Increased artificial light from ceiling fixtures, recessed lights, halogen lights and switch receptacles for lamps
- Baths with reinforced walls for later installation of mobility aids (i.e., grab bars)
Other aging-in-place details included:
- Extra-wide entry with inclined walk
- Additional exterior lighting
- Interior pocket doors
- Easily operated climate controls
- Non-slip floors
- Ample floor space for function and clear passage
- Ceiling fan/lights in every room
- Anti-scald, easy-to-operate plumbing fittings
- Roll-in showers
- Hand-held spray-in showers and tub
- Comfort-height toilets
Achieving Optimal Energy Efficiency
The windows, doors, radiant barrier paint in the attic, radiant hydronic in-floor heat, air handlers and recuperators and insulation we installed provide the latest in energy-efficient technology. We included two fireplaces — operated remotely and gas-burning for convenience — to add warmth. We also installed video surveillance and security systems — important safety and security features requested by the owners.
A Well-Serving and Functional Kitchen
The kitchen is ideally situated to serve the home’s indoor and outdoor living areas. A rich space, inviting space for gathering, it includes many practical universal design details such as pull-out drawers and spice racks, drawer dishwashers, a hot water dispenser and carefully designed multi-level work areas to accommodate sitting or standing adults.
Other highlights include task lighting in appropriate work areas and a double sink equipped with a single-lever handle faucet and spray for ease-of-use. To make the heatproof solid granite countertops safer for the grandkids, we eliminated the sharp corners and edges with bull nose edging.
For convenience and safety, we installed a side-by-side refrigeration/freezer for easy access to both fresh and frozen foods. We also arranged the kitchen appliances for convenience and safety. As part of the aging-in-place design, we provided adequate space for wheelchair maneuverability — 42 inches between the island and the cooktop and 48 inches between the island and wall cabinets. We also raised the built-in ovens and microwave so that residents don't have to bend to use them. The stove, naturally, features controls that are easy to operate and clearly marked. And in order to limit potential confusion as the home owners age, we decorated the cabinets and walls in contrasting colors.
We located the cleaning supply storage area — with full extension storage drawers — away from the food pantry. The pantry is open and features well-lighted shelves to make it easy to see and find products.
Exterior Features Designed for Safety, Ease of Use
Outside the house, we built a smooth, stable driveway and a sloping entry walk with a textured finish for stability and safety and a covered entryway at the front and rear doors. We installed a glass vision panel and two sidelights at the front door to provide visibility while maintaining privacy.
We also designed the exterior to be low-maintenance. It features a brick and stone facade, aluminum gutters and fascia and vinyl soffits. We used lever handles on the exterior doors for those who are visually impaired or have arthritic hands.
Luxury, Convenience in the Bathroom
The master suite is distinctive with separate “his” and “hers” luxury baths. The “his” master bath features a Roman-type shower made of Italian tumbled marble. “Her” bath has an oversize water therapy tub, coffee maker, hot water dispenser and fridge. Both baths are enhanced with custom stone light fixtures and chandeliers as well as telephones that can be reached from the floor.
The master bedroom is just steps away from the front door, allowing easy access to the outside in case of an emergency. The intercom, fan, access lighting and reading lights are reachable from the bed. Spacious, well-lighted closets feature pull-out drawers, clothes rods at multiple heights and custom wood shelves.
By incorporating flexibility and support for anticipated changes in the owners’ lifestyle, we designed a home that will serve the owners now and in the future. We also built a home that was recognized in the housing industry. JMJ Homes won a Gold Award in the Aging in Place — New Custom Home category in the 2004 Best of Seniors Housing Awards competition sponsored by the NAHB Seniors Housing Council.
Satisfied buyers and an award-winning project — it doesn’t get any better than that.
James P. Bacot, CAPS, is the president of Brooks Run Builders, Inc., a Leonardtown, MD-based home builder and remodeler. Bacot primarily builds custom homes, often incorporating aging-in-place features. He also renovates existing homes with aging-in-place/universal design features for special-needs occupants. For more information, e-mail Bacot, or call him at 301-373-8424.
Attend the 2005 Seniors Housing Symposium in Metro Washington, D.C. Area
Learn more about the fastest-growing segment of the housing market. Plan to attend Building for Boomers & Beyond: Seniors Housing Symposium 2005, the premier educational and networking event for industry professionals serving the burgeoning 50+ market. For more information, click here.
The NAHB University of Housing Offers Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) Designation
The Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) designation program teaches the technical, business management and customer service skills essential to competing in the fastest growing segment of the residential remodeling industry: home modifications for the aging in place. For more information on this designation program, click here.
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