Tag Archives: Aging-in-Place

Among Those Planning To Spend – Livability Is Tops!

Livability tops resale value across the board in a national survey conducted by Houzz.com

In a February 2012 survey, published recently on Houzz.com, homeowners that are looking to spend money on home improvement in the next two years are overwhelmingly focused on livability over resale value.  Great news for the remodeling market, as more homeowners choose to stay put and improve upon their existing homes.

Check out the full article at Houzz.com or see excerpts below:

Even as new and existing home sales and prices climb, homeowners are prioritizing aesthetics before profit, according to the February 2012 Houzz & Home Survey conducted among users of the Houzz app and website. Results are based on 29,127 respondents (87 percent homeowners, 13 percent renters).

Among homeowners planning to build, remodel or decorate in the next two years:

  • 86 percent cited improving the look and feel of the space as an important driver for remodeling projects
  • 47 percent cited increasing home value

The gap between these priorities was consistent across all income levels and demographic groups.

Of today’s homeowners, 70 percent do not plan to take out a loan to pay for that beautiful home. They’d rather cut back on vacations and other big-ticket items or do some of the work themselves than delay or decrease the budget for their home improvement plans.

Even upscale homeowners are taking a hands-on approach to building, remodeling and decorating projects. The survey found that while 45 percent of households at upper income levels ($150,000 per year or more) are choosing to hire an architect, an interior designer, a general contractor or another remodeling or decorating professional to complete a project in its entirety, an equal number of them are combining professional help and DIY efforts. That proportion is only slightly less than the 49 percent taking this combination approach in lower income brackets.

Read more at Houzz.com


National News: Universal Design, Green Remodeling Have Joint Appeal to Baby Boomers

From ReNews, NAHB Remodelers

A remodeling project that combines universal design and green remodeling can be a strong seller in today’s weakened market, particularly with baby boomers “coming of age,” according to Mike Vowels, of Stewardship Remodeling in Seattle.

Vowels sees a strong link between the two remodeling concepts because both involve consumers planning for their futures and incorporating sustainability in a home.

But Vowels also cautions that designing the remodeling solution offered to potential clients has to be “seamless and invisible,” or consumers won’t find it appealing.

“You need to be careful when presenting the subject of ‘aging-in-place’ to prospective clients because some people are uncomfortable with the language,” Vowel says. “People don’t want to envision themselves getting old or becoming less capable.”

Instead of using the term, “roll-in shower,” for example, Vowels talks to his prospects about curb-less European showers. Instead of ramps, he discusses step-less grade changes leading to the front entrance or back patio.

Vowels markets and sells universal design and green remodeling as a total home remodeling solution rather than as two compatible concepts.

“You wouldn’t recognize the differences if you didn’t point them out,” he says. “You have to be able to demonstrate that the remodeled home would have all these tasteful changes without anyone being aware that anything is different or out of the ordinary. None of the changes should look temporary, generic or institutional.”

The most effective way to accomplish such a seamless remodel, Vowels says, is to anticipate future needs, plan accordingly and integrate the universal design and green solutions.

“It’s about how smart your house can be,” says Vowels. For example, a design that plans for future changes can include stacked closets that are properly sized so that they can be converted into an elevator shaft later, if needed. Such pre-planning meets the home owner’s needs now and their changing needs in the future.

The approach makes the whole remodeling project much more marketable and easier to sell because there are more features and benefits to sell — and because they work together, he says.

“Unlike a carton of milk or a steak, the function, safety and comfort of your home should not have an expiration date on it,” Vowels says.

  • Economic Sustainability — An energy-efficient home will have lower operating costs (e.g., utilities) and coupled with universal design, the home will be more marketable to a broader population. Long term, a home with green features and universal design is a good investment.
  • Environmental Sustainability — A home incorporating universal design is remodeled to anticipate the transitions linked to aging. This lessens the need for ad hoc changes in the future that are age related and less seamless.
  • Social Sustainability — A home incorporating universal design provides visitability for people of varied abilities and enables home owners — and sometimes whole families — to stay in their same home (aging-in-place) and continue living in their same community.

The overall combination of benefits that result from combining universal design and green remodeling into one seamless remodeling solution is helping Vowels differentiate his company from his competition.

“We’re trying to distinguish ourselves on universal design by showing the attractive side of a very prudent choice for our customers to consider,” Vowels says.

The Stewardship Remodeling Web site, www.universalandgreen.com, and all the company’s marketing materials help focus its branding and reinforce the reason to integrate the two remodeling concepts.

Universal design and green remodeling, Vowels says, answer the current and future needs of prospective home owners by creating a finished product that is timeless in its use, contributes positively to the environment and is sustainable.

Planning for Aging-in-Place Up 10%, Remodelers Say

Planning for aging-in-place renovation work among remodeling clients increased 10% during the past three years, according to a recent survey by the NAHB Remodelers.

In the survey, 70% of remodelers reported making universal design home modifications, up from 60% in 2006.

“Home owners are asking for remodeling improvements to make their homes more comfortable as they age because they don’t want to move or lose independence,” said Greg Miedema, CGR, CGB, CAPS, CGP, president of Dakota Builders in Tucson, Ariz. and NAHB Remodelers chairman. “These modifications can make a home more stylish and convenient for the aging population.”

While the survey indicated that most of the clients requesting the aging-in-place modifications were 55 and older, remodelers also reported a growing number of younger consumers who wanted these modifications in their homes to make it easier for visiting relatives with age-related disabilities, to make it easier for grown children to share living space with their parents or to plan ahead for future needs.

The aging-in-place modifications most frequently purchased by home owners, according to the remodelers survey, include:

Adding grab bars — 78%
Installing higher toilets — 71%
Upgrading to a curb-less shower — 60%
Widening doorways — 57%
Building ramps or lower thresholds — 45%
Enhancing lighting and task lighting — 45%

NAHB’s survey also indicated that consumers are becoming increasingly aware of aging-in-place and universal design options. Eighty-four percent of the remodelers said that home owners have at least some knowledge of universal design solutions.

For more information about aging-in-place remodeling, visit www.nahb.org/aginginplace.

National News: Aging-in-Place Market a Bright Spot for Housing

Aging-in-place renovation work is expected to provide one of the bright spots for residential construction as the recession-battered industry eventually begins gaining ground, according to panelists at last month’s Remodeling Show in Baltimore. They also pointed out that communication with elderly home owners will be key to success in this segment of the marketplace, and that is why builders should consider teaming up with occupational therapists.

Members of the post-World War II baby boom are fast approaching traditional retirement years with the advantages of a longer life, more wealth and better education than previous generations, said Michael O’Neal, an urban sociologist with AARP, and surveys by his organization suggest that the great majority of this population will be looking for remodeling jobs that enable them to continue living in their existing homes.

By 2030, there will be more than 70 million Americans who are 65 and older, more than twice as many as today, O’Neal said. The first boomer turned 60 in 2006 and the last will turn 65 in 2039.

AARP polling has found that 84% of people who are 50 and older would prefer to reside in their existing home and within their existing community, said O’Neal. However, “only 16% have made modifications to be safe and comfortable in their home.”

Studies on mobility show that 90% of those who are 50+ stay put in their existing home, he said, and the 10% who do move tend not to go far from the area in which they have established roots.

‘A Tough Sell’

While the outlook for aging-in-place remains strong, Bill Owens, president of Owens Construction in Columbus, Ohio, noted that it “can be a phantom market.”

“It’s true,” Owens said of remodeling projects to gear existing homes to the needs of the elderly. “We know we need it, but it’s elusive because nobody wants to do it,” and boomers tend to have a feeling of “invincibility” when it comes to denying that they will eventually be affected by some of the physical and mental challenges that come with aging.

Aging-in-place can be “a tough sell,” he said, and builders need to emphasize great design opportunities. “You cannot sell cod liver oil,” he said. “Have your universal design glasses on all the time,” and if done right, universal design principles can be brought into the home unobtrusively.

The aging of the nation’s housing stock, with the average home now 33 years old, is conducive to “a mélange of home modification opportunities,” Owens said. Older home owners tend to live in two-story houses, with small bathrooms, narrow doors and small boxes “that are completely different from today’s open floor plans,” he said, none of which is particularly well-suited to accommodating the needs of aging residents.

Seniors in the 60-to-70 age bracket tend to be most receptive to the idea of remodeling so that they can continue to comfortably reside in their existing homes, he said, but that willingness begins to fade by age 70 to 75. Boomers, who will represent the majority opportunity for these jobs as they increasingly get older, are already key influencers, he said, in making decisions for their parents.

Persons of all ages and abilities can benefit from universal design, Owens said. “A home that has no barriers is the goal,” he added.

Working With Occupational Therapists

AARP’s O’Neal said that remodelers should understand that elderly home owners might not understand what a contractor is telling them when going through the house. This occurred when his father, who is hard of hearing, was in the process of getting a new roof.

“A remodeler won’t close the sale with someone who doesn’t really understand what the contractor is presenting,” said Carla Chase, assistant professor of Western Michigan University’s occupational therapy program and a representative of the American Occupational Therapy Association. But there can be much more that remodelers need to know about prospective clients who are elderly, and occupational therapists (OTs) can play an essential role in this process, she said.

OTs can help contractors determine what needs to be modified in the home by evaluating the client’s physical and emotional strengths and limitations as well as medical conditions that have an impact on how they function — often after an illness or injury — and what can be expected as they continue to age, said Chase.

“A person may claim not to need help in walking, but hand marks on the wall indicate otherwise,” she said. The OT asks, “What are they able and not able to do in their home?” Expanding the overview of the project, the OT also assesses anyone who is taking care of the resident of the home.

Chase said that OTs can weigh the course of medical conditions as they pertain to the livability of the client’s home. Some of these conditions can be short-term, some can happen suddenly and some progressively become worse.

Clients with multiple sclerosis, for example, will need increasingly more support five and 10 years down the road, she said, and when considering modifications to the home should be planning for the future. “They need to decide to go the extra step now,” she said.

OTs can help with such psychosocial aspects of the aging process as loss of control, which can be a difficult issue for a person who has defined their adult life as being the primary breadwinner and now sees that role changing. OTs can also help resolve other powerful issues that can cause multiple problems for the parties involved in the home modification process — such as privacy and fear of falling.

Aging clients often need support when it comes to overcoming reluctance to face the need for modifications to their home. It is helpful, Chase said, to begin by pointing out to the client steps they have already taken to make their home more livable — such as using nightlights or installing a non-skid surface in the shower. It is also good to have them recognize that modifications in the home will improve the comfort of visitors, such as grandchildren or an elderly sibling.

“You need to talk about the bad days with the client,” Chase added. “They may be feeling good the day the contractor comes in.”

Panelists recommended CAPS (Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist) training from NAHB for builders who are considering diversifying into the aging-in-place market.

The organizations represented on the panel have been working together to create consumer demand for remodelers who understand aging-in-place concepts; promote the benefits of partnering with occupational therapists to better meet the needs of home owners who want to age in place; learn how best to market aging in place remodeling to seniors; and emphasize the importance of customization in this market.