Custom Homes With Aging-in-Place in Mind

We often advise prospective home builders, and specifically those over a certain age, that they need to think through what they want with their older selves in mind and potentially aging in place. Often, people are ready for this conversation, though not always. In either camp, they are always surprised by what we mean. This post is mainly for self-serving purposes, providing us with a resource to send to clients so that we don’t have repeat the same things over and over.

1. Living Fully on the Ground Floor

No matter how big the house is, you’ll want to really consider creating the space such that as you age you can live on the main floor and not mess with stairs. This may seem obvious, but we are surprised by how few people understand this. As you age, you become less mobile, and stairs can prove difficult.

Stairlifts are not that expensive to install or retrofit, and they have come a long way in the last 30 years, but they sure can make a house look terrible.

Elevators are a popular option. They are expensive, and you really what to install these going in. Retrofits are doable, but can be extremely difficult in many situations.

As a final note here, this can be just a moot point if you have a view that can only be realized on the top level. Not much you can do there, except to build in an elevator.

2. Wire for Everything – And this Includes Medical Alerts

For the last 20 years or so the industry has been installing conduits in an effort to wire for everything. 15 years ago, we were worried about surround sound and alarm systems. Today, it is wifi and tons of plug-ins for mobile devices. We knew a couple decades ago that we could not predict the electrical demands of the future, so we have been wiring bigger boxes and making it easy to install the next greatest thing without tearing apart the house.

However, something that homeowners have been neglecting since always is wiring for medical alert devices. It can be a touchy subject, but these alert systems are just a little different from the standard wiring in that they need a central location for the system to attach to the electrical panel that is also central in the home. Then there are typically satellites units that just plug into the wall and communicate with the main system–that in turn alerts the company that something has happened. Long story there, but always wire for this because it will likely be needed and it can be fairly difficult to retrofit.

3. Discretionary Concerns with Tubs

This goes both for standard hot tub/jacuzzis as well as jacuzzi tubs and general bath tubs. A lot of falls happen here, as the standard construction has people stepping over the sides of the tub or up into the hot tub and then back down. While wet.

If possible, try to get the hot tub to be installed in a manner where you can step down into it. This might require a deck around it (with stairs up to it) or some other configuration, but it has been proven to be the safest design.

There are tons and tons of walk in tubs these days. That link shows a few from Home Depot. But really consider this. These are easy to wait for, as the removal and installs are pretty straightforward. However, these have reduced fall rates by quite a bit.

4. Do a Wheelchair Tour

People really hate this suggestion, and we sometimes don’t offer it because it is such an awkward conversation. We often send people this piece about creating a wheel chair accessible home. It is difficult to get people to take a wheelchair tour of a home they are designing, but when we can, we ask them to get a wheelchair and go into every room of their current home. It is a really good hueristic that you can’t truly understand until you feel how narrow doorways are, halls, and the room between furniture.

If you can think through this possibility while in the design phase, and then design the whole house with this in mind, it is easy for us to make a home just seem grand that meets ADA requirements, as opposed to just a home with wide doors and hallways.

What’s Different about Custom Mediterranean Home Plans?

Custom Mediterranean House Plan Designs – what to look for

Mediterranean houses resemble the Mediterranean villas designs and are found in places with warm weather. They are easily recognized with their red, low-pitched cotta-tiled roof, arched doorways, and rough plaster exteriors. Other distinct features they have to survive warm climates are, balconies, verandas, stucco siding, swimming pools, courtyards, curved windows and open gardening to keep it breezy.

The average cost of building a Mediterranean house can vary from approximately $350,000 to a million dollars, depending on the size and house plan one has. Mediterranean style houses are simple yet elegant spaces, they are timeless and never really go out of style. When living in hot areas Mediterranean houses are the best choice. The half-tube shape of roof tiles allows air into the house and keep it cool. The flooring is made of tile and that helps keep the feet cool all day. The houses exterior offer a unique design with the stucco or brick painted brighter to distinguish it from the roof.

The downside to Mediterranean style houses is the staining of wood doors and windows doesn’t wear very well when painted white because of the heat. The houses have an issue with inadequate lighting and storage due to small intimate designs. They require yearly lime coating on the walls to allow them to breathe. Financially they are known to be quite expensive too.

What’s Different about Custom Ranch Home Plans?

Pros and Cons of Ranch Houses – what to look for

Ranch style homes are gaining in popularity again. Not only are they popular with retirees but also young families and everything in between. With a shift in the market, building a ranch style home may be a great idea for you.

Pros of ranch houses

  • Open living space – Ranch homes are known for their open living spaces, making entertaining and family gatherings a regular occurrence.
  • Safer – Older people will be relieved that they don’t have to climb stairs, and parents will be happy to know they don’t have to worry about their small children navigating steps.
  • Easy cleaning – With no second floor it’s easier to clean windows, climb the roof, or even paint. The height of some second-story homes could be dangerous.

Cons of ranch houses

  • Cost – Building a ranch home is more expensive. It requires more materials for foundation, roof, siding, etc.
  • Larger lot – Since a ranch home will take up more space it requires a larger lot. You may have to give up some of the land you initially wanted as a yard in order to build a one-story.
  • Privacy – While this may not be at the forefront of your mind, it’s something to think about. Normally, master bedrooms are on the 2nd floor and feel isolated from the rest of the house. A first-floor bedroom may not feel as private and can take some getting used to.

What’s Different about Custom Log Home Plans?

Custom Log House Designs – what to look for

Custom log home plans can capture that cozy cabin in the woods feel while still offering innovative designs and a homey yet upscale feel. You can even have your modern kitchens, high ceilings, and beautiful stone fireplaces with these designs. There are some things that you’ll want to know before jumping into your log cabin design.

One of the main issues that come up with log home designs is the level of maintenance that is required. What a lot of people don’t know about log homes is that over time the wood will shift with changes in the environment, which can cause more general maintenance costs on your home. Termites and carpenter bees/ants can also be an issue with log homes, so make you discuss this with your insurance agent.

Energy efficiency in design

One of the great things about a log cabin home is that they are very energy efficient. The massive logs that get used in building your home are excellent at conserving energy and can absorb heat throughout the day that continues to warm your home throughout the night. These homes can be up to 15% more energy efficient than standard homes.

Log home “kits” are a standard purchase when building your home, but keep in mind with these kits that the convenience comes at a price. The pieces of these kits are designed in a precise way, which may limit your ability to make changes during the building process.

If you are looking to build a home that is the right environmental choice, you can’t go wrong with a log home. Materials will usually be sourced from sustainable forests, and the whole tree gets used in the process, ensuring that there is minimal waste.

What’s Different about Custom Multi-Story Home Plans?

Multi-Story Home Custom Plans – what to look for

Multi-story homes have a lot of advantages and disadvantages and deciding on building one vs. a one-story home can be difficult. For now, let’s focus on multi-story custom home builds and what benefits they have as well as the issues that can come up.

One of the more apparent benefits of a multi-story custom home design is the range of design options that are available to you. Since you have more space to work with as well as this being a new build, you have many more choices when it comes to designing your new home. Even when you are ready for a remodel or redesign, you’ll have more to work with since there is more space.

The unfortunate downside of having more space in your home is when you are looking to cleaning and maintaining your home. Since you have more space to work with, that means there is more square footage that needs to be cleaned, more moving parts that can break, and more general maintenance that needs to be done.

Unparalleled privacy

Another advantage of a multi-story home is more privacy. Since you’ll have multiple floors available, you’ll have more space to get that much needed “you time.” This is also a plus for families if you want to have a separate area from your children as they get older, having your own space is a must.

Bigger home spaces, however, mean it’ll take more power, and more time to heat and cool, so your utility bills will generally be higher in a multi-story room than a one story. One thing to keep in mind during the design process is heat rises and cold air falls, so this may help you plan when thinking about your utilities.