Tag Archives: Universal Design

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.