You love your home — it’s full of joyous memories and happy moments shared with friends and family.

As you near retirement, you’re faced with a major decision. Are you going to relocate? Move to a different neighborhood? Or renovate your existing home so that it’s accessible and safe as you age? 

Before you can make a decision, you need to be informed. Read on to learn about the necessary features and design elements your home needs to be accessible and safe.

EXTERIOR SAFETY

Keeping the home well-lit outside is crucial, as well as fixing any hazards such as loose gravel or damaged concrete. It’s also important to consider the entry way to the house. If there are steps, consider talking to a contractor about renovating to a no-step entry. A no-step entry completely eliminates the hazards presented by steps and are much safer. If a no-step entry isn’t an option for your home, installing an accessibility ramp is a good alternative.

It’s also much safer to have your garage attached to your house. If yours is currently detached, this addition can often be made without major disruption to the rest of your home. In most cases, the entry from the garage to the home can be completed with a no-step or ramp entry, again, eliminating the hazards from stairs.

Elite Custom Builders have experience with garage additions, and have even built a heated attached garage addition. The heated garage means you can get straight into a warm car and aren’t shocked by the cold in winter time.

These exterior renovation projects, like a new driveway, no-step entry and attached garage drastically increase the accessibility of your home, making it a place you can live comfortably and safely for years to come.

renovations for a forever home

STRUCTURAL FEATURES

When considering the overall safety of your house, you first need to consider the structural features — stairs, door frames and hallways are prime examples. 

If your home is split over two levels, you’ll want to make sure you have a sturdy hand rail. We also advise having good lighting (perhaps even motion-activated) and non-slip flooring. If you have a slick wood, non-skid treads can be easily installed.

While it’s a tough conversation to have, you need to consider your current health. If you’re already experiencing health issues that may lead to limited mobility, a stair rail may not be enough in terms of support. You’ll want to make sure a stair lift can be installed in your home. If it cannot, moving into a custom new home while you’re younger may be a wise choice.

Perhaps a new master bedroom addition on the main floor is the best solution, meaning you can live comfortably on one level, eliminating the need to constantly go up and down the stairs. Master bedroom and bathroom additions allow you to keep your familiar and comfortable space.

Along with the stairs, it’s important to look at the door frames. Again, while difficult to discuss, limited mobility may mean you or your loved one may need a wheelchair or walker. Standard width door frames can sometimes be modified with new hinges to add additional width, but accessible width door frames are ideal. These wider door frames will allow for easy access from room to room without assistance. The width of your hallways is also an important consideration. If they’re too narrow, navigating your home comfortably will be challenging. 

Often, the door frames can be altered as part of a renovation by a professional contractor. However, there are limitations to modifying stairs and hallways. If your home is presenting multiple structural accessibility issues, it’s time to discuss building a new custom home.

With a new custom home, you can ensure the home is completely accessible while enjoying the comforts and luxuries of a brand new home.

KITCHEN

Kitchens are a major point of concern for aging adults — it’s important to retain independence, but kitchens are generally built for people who have no mobility problems. A larger kitchen with more space to move around is helpful.

At Elite Custom Builders, we recommend thinking about reach. Often, cabinets are too tall to reach the top shelves, rendering them useless. We like to install more storage in the lower cabinets and recommend considering an island in the kitchen. 

An island is ideal for food preparation and can be installed at a custom height. The island can also have an overhang to allow for barstools, meaning that some food prep can be done sitting down.

It’s important to consider the appliances, too. Side by side refrigerators are generally more accessible than those where the fridge and freezer are stacked. The doors are also less heavy, making them easier to open. And while microwaves installed over the oven save space, they can be hard to reach. It’s becoming increasingly popular to install them at countertop height.

If your kitchen is presenting challenges, a full renovation could be your best option. You need to hire a qualified contractor with ample kitchen experience to your home to assess your current and future needs.

BATHROOMS

The main hazard in a bathroom is the risk of slipping. To lower the risk of slipping, we recommend installing sturdy handrails. Make sure all rails are secured to the wall — suction cup rails simply aren’t sturdy enough. Then, look at the shower or bathtub. 

Walk-in showers are much safer than climbing over the side of a standard tub. Some walk-in showers even have a built-in seat, making bathing easier. You can even buy bathtubs that have a step, which are designed to be safer than a regular tub.

Toilets are often too low to be comfortable for those with mobility limitations. Higher toilets are a much safer, especially when paired with secured hand rails. We recommend changing out the toilet to one that is higher versus using a riser that can ultimately shift and cause injury.


Elite Custom Builders | Residential Contractor

If you’d like to stay in your home through retirement, Elite Custom Builders can help you assess your home for safety and advise you on whether an addition project or custom new home would be best for your personal situation.

We are the leading contractor for Bridgeport, Clarksburg and Morgantown, WV, bringing a combined 70+ years of experience to your project.

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