Aging-in-Place Renovation Strategies

Mark Philben, project development manager at Charlie Allen Renovations in Cambridge, MA ( ) is certified in Aging in Place remodeling by the National Association of Home Builders. He shares some tips and strategies below:

When is the best time to start thinking about aging-in-place improvements?

Any time you are planning a remodel, regardless of your age, it's smart to consider the future. For example, while you don't need to immediately install grab bars in your bathroom, you can have your contractor install blocking for future installation. A little extra planning today can save you significant money in the future. For some people, when the time comes that they need aging in place solutions, it's because of a traumatic injury or illness, meaning that there is little time to plan and implement the work. Considering options early with a qualified contractor and having a plan in place will make the transition easier.

What are some common aging-in-place renovation solutions?

Curbless showers, grab bars, lowered height counters and vanities, extra lighting for aging eyes, motion sensor switching for lights, installing levers for faucets and door knobs, installing raised dishwashers, lowering cooking surfaces. Door openings should be a minimum of 36" wide and interior doors should be removed wherever practical. On the exterior, installing ramps and rails for access to egress doors, motion sensor exterior lights, a bench next to the door to put things on when entering are all possible options.

How do these renovations impact the value of my home?

There is little firm data to date on how these changes will impact home values. Fortunately, many aging in place improvements are subtle enough to blend seamlessly into any buyer's lifestyle. Wider doorways, better lighting and switching, curbless showers, etc., should actually enhance your home value if done properly. Others such as wheelchair ramps and lowered cabinets and appliances could be detrimental for certain buyers.

What is the price range for some standard aging-in-place improvements?

Many of the items we've discussed are not cost-prohibitive and can be done at any time, like swapping out hardware, lighted switching or some motion sensor lighting. If you are thinking about a remodel, incorporating some of the more significant changes into the design of a new kitchen, bath, or main house should not raise the price of your project significantly.

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