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15 February . 2019

6 features to make your new home ready for aging in place

An overwhelming majority of people want to stay in their homes as long as possible, according to research by the AARP Public Policy Institute.

One of the best things about buying a new home during life’s second act is the ability to customize it to include all those dream features you’ve always wanted, from that sunny kitchen with oodles of counter and cabinet space, to that cozy outdoor living area.

Along with all the fun designer features, it also pays to add a few common-sense features to your new home while it’s being built. You might not need them anytime soon, but adding them during construction can be much more cost-effective than having to renovate later.

Renovations can be much more expensive than new construction, and they can also be more disruptive, since you’re already living there.

Here are 6 features to think about to design your new home for aging in place, or simply to make it more user-friendly for older family members and visitors.

Walk-in shower. Most of today’s new homes already include a walk-in shower in the primary bathroom, often in addition to a freestanding bathtub. But some new homes at more affordable price points might not include a walk-in shower as a standard feature, so it is a very good idea to add it as an option in the primary suite. You might also consider adding a walk-in shower to a secondary bathroom if an older family member might visit. For adults with mobility issues, climbing over the edge of a bathtub can be difficult. A walk-in shower can solve this problem while making the bathroom look more modern.  Experts estimate that adding a custom walk-in shower during a renovation can cost between $6,500 and $15,000, but it’s much cheaper to add it as a new-home option. 

Grab bars. Placing grab bars in strategic places can benefit homeowners of any age, because slips and falls can happen to anyone. The main shower is the most common location for a grab bar, and the front door is an often overlooked but very beneficial place. When grab bars are added during new construction, the builder can include reinforcing studs where necessary.

Door lever handles. Door lever handles are an attractive design feature, and compared to doorknobs, they can be very beneficial for anyone with arthritis. Although lever handles can easily be added later, including them during the construction process will help make sure they match the rest of your hardware.

Pullout drawers. Providing easy access to pots, dishes and tools, pullout drawers are loved by everyone. Because they eliminate the need to bend down and reach into the inner recesses of lower cabinets, these convenient drawers can be especially useful for older homeowners.

Countertops. Countertops are another kitchen feature to consider. Designing your kitchen with multilevel countertops can make it more comfortable and provide enhanced maneuverability for different situations. The standard countertop height is 36 inches, and creating another level at 30 inches will offer more choice and function. Rounded corners and edges are another great idea for safety and visual appeal.

Downstairs primary suite. Communities like Sweetwater offer many choices for one-story homes, but if you are choosing a two-story plan, consider one with the primary suite and primary bathroom on the main floor. That way, almost everything you need will be on the ground level. Adding a downstairs primary suite later can cost up to $200 per square foot, if it’s even possible due to the size of the homesite and community restrictions.

Explore all of the exciting new home choices in Sweetwater with our Homefinder.

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