Friday, December 19, 2014

Be a Hero When Designing a Modular Home for Boomers

Most members of the Baby Boom Generation that are looking to build a new home want special options in their new home and you are happy to grant their requests. What most of the Boomers don’t want to think about is what happens 5, 10 or more years after the house is completed.

I’m a Boomer and let me tell you from first hand experience that things don’t work as well today as they did just 5 years ago. Who knows what the future will bring but one for sure is that something unexpected will happen to change their lives.

As a modular home builder your customer may not want to hear your suggestions about options they should consider but you will be a Hero when the time comes when it is needed.

Here are six things that Boomers will appreciate as they age in place in their new home:

Open Floorplans
Take another look at the floor plan and have them consider removing walls between the living and dining rooms, kitchen, family room, and/or entry halls which will make their house feel bigger and more comfortable—and makes the space easier to negotiate in old age.

Curb-Free Showers
Visit any high-end resort or flip through a glossy design magazine and you’ll notice that every shower has glass doors that go all the way to the floor, with no lip to step over. Aside from being a sleek and sophisticated look, this eliminates a major tripping hazard.

Multiple Height Counters
When you help them plan their new kitchen, include some counters at standard height (36 inches), some at breakfast bar height (42 inches), and some at table height (30 inches) with knee space for sitting. Having a range of counters will give them more options for prepping or cooking while standing or seated, all without requiring that they bend over.

Wide Doorways
Here is another thing to check on their floor plan. Make sure the doorways are wide. A lot of Boomers are obese and some of the new wheelchairs will not easily fit through even a 36” opening. Also, don’t forget to look for doorways that are hard to get to and open, door swings and hinging and consider 8’ wide sliding Patio doors instead of 6’.  This makes also makes their home feel more spacious, and will allow for wheelchair access should you ever need it later.

Lever-Style Doorknobs
Just as lever-style faucets have become the norm for kitchens and showers because they’re attractive and easy to operate, lever doorknobs are more ergonomic than standard round versions. They’re easier to grab and manipulate if they’re carrying a load of groceries or laundry—or if they’re aging in place.

High Outlets
When modular factories are left to their own devices, most of their electricians will install new outlets at 12 to 18 inches off the floor. But that requires bending over every time the Boomer needs to plug in the vacuum. Ask for outlets 24 inches high instead, and you’ll make their house easier to use now and when they get older.


Anonymous said...

Wonder which factories or builders will take note, particularly in the 55 and older buyer market.

Jeff said...

If I re-call, Excel Homes had a whole series back in the mid-90's that was designed for all the items listed in the article. I belive they called it the Universal Series and it was geared towards housing for the the elderly and disabled. I just checked their webiste and they do not make mention of it. Maybe they should be it back and push it onto the baby boomer market?