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FINDING YOUR FOREVER HOME
How to buy the last house you’ll ever buy
The vast majority of homebuyers and remodelers don't consider what it might be like to grow old in their homes, says Richard Duncan, executive director of the Ronald L. Mace Universal Design Institute, a nonprofit in Asheville, North Carolina, that promotes accessible design for housing, public buildings and parks.
"We think aging is what happens to other people," Duncan says. "Nobody puts away money to save for that good-looking ramp they've always wanted."
Concerns for everyone
Consider these figures:
And it's not just the elderly who are affected. Ask anyone who worries about aging parents tumbling down steps or becoming increasingly isolated in family homes that are hard to navigate.
"If you can't get in and out easily, it's a huge barrier to staying connected in the community," Harrell notes.
These concerns are more than just professional for Duncan, since he and his wife are currently renovating a home to make it more accessible after moving from Chapel Hill to Asheville, North Carolina, to be closer to their daughter. The Duncans had renovated their previous home to allow his disabled father to visit, but finding a new home that had even some of the features they wanted proved a challenge, Duncan says.
Here in Florida one of the things we are availed in our typical home style is a single story open floor plan. This "Ranch" style home is often a great choice when people are considering the forever home. There are other things to consider in the overall design and flow of your home, but this often a great place to start. home style is a single story open floor plan. This "Ranch" style home is often a great choice when people are considering the forever home. While there are other options and styles to consider in the overall design and flow of your home, but this often a great place to start.
What to seek in your last home
Since truly accessible dwellings are rare, people can focus instead on finding one that can be easily adapted to their needs as they age, Duncan says, such as a home with at least one bedroom on the same level as the kitchen, a full bathroom and the laundry room.
Projects can include making the front entrance and back porch "step-free" (they now have 2-inch and 3-inch rises, respectively) and creating a "curbless" or step-free shower. Wiring the home for security and remote access are also great things to consider.
No-step entries are good for people in wheelchairs, of course, but they also make life easier for people with walkers, teenagers in casts or anyone wheeling a big-screen TV through the door, Harrell notes.
Other important features to look for include:
Baths and kitchens that have the potential to be made more accessible.
People can look to their future selves by choosing a home with a bathroom that's spacious enough to maneuver a walker (or a person plus a caregiver) and a shower that's large enough to include a chair or seat. If homeowners aren't ready to add more supports – and you should know that "stylish grab bars" are no longer an oxymoron – they can at least reinforce walls during a remodel so that adding bars later is an option.
"You don't need to create an institutional-looking home," Harrell says. "You just need to think about your future needs."
Of course the one thing you can't change about a home is it's location but giving some consideration to your future path is a wonderful thing to think about. There are plenty of single story homes waiting for you to give them a look. For a full list of available ranch style homes CLICK HERE
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