Accommodating Progressive Change in Your NeedsBy Karen L. Braitmayer, FAIA
…consider changes to both your house and your lifestyle for remaining in your home as years go by. Planning for the most significant changes imaginable and then breaking those down into “phases”…
When a prospective client approaches an architect to get started on a house remodel, they often suggest that we start on just a part of the project “for now”. Doing a project in phases allows a client to commit a smaller amount of money to the project, to address the most urgent issue and to see how they feel about a remodel project in their home. A diligent architect will suggest that any work on the design, even if it is going to be done in phases, include an overall design concept for the whole house – a “master plan”, if you will. This way, changes made to accommodate the remodel to the downstairs bathroom that might be an urgent need now, doesn’t limit the future changes for the neighboring kitchen when it is time for that phase of the project.
The same approach should be used to consider changes made to both your house and your lifestyle when remaining in your home as years go by. Planning for the most significant changes imaginable and then breaking those down into “phases” is a simpler way to meet a budget and adjust to those changes over time.
First step is to sit down with paper and pencil and list the challenges that you might face in the future: perhaps you might have a loss of mobility and require assistance from a device such as a walker or a wheelchair. Perhaps you may have a partial loss of vision or hearing. Perhaps you may lose dexterity in your hands due to arthritis or weakness in your strength.
Each area of challenge should have possible changes to make. Include as well how to continue activities that are important to you. Do you entertain in your home? If so, making your social area easy for you to get to and participate in the activity is important. Plus perhaps making sure your kitchen allows you to continue to make your famous pies is a high priority? Do you like to get out of your home to shop or socialize? Then getting to and from your home should be top of your list.
For mobility loss, consider:
- How you might get in and out of your home.
- If you have a garage, will you be able to get in and out of a vehicle in the garage and then enter the home without steps?
- Is there a main floor bathroom and bedroom?
- Can you move about your home, through the doorways and halls?
- Is your bathroom usable when using a wheelchair or walker?
For vision loss, consider:
- Do you have good lighting in your work areas, such as the bathroom and kitchen?
- Do you have good lighting both inside and outside at the entrances to the home?
For dexterity loss, consider:
- Do you have easy to grip knobs or pulls on your doors or cabinets?
- Do you exert effort to open your doors or appliances?
- Do you reach high above your head to get everyday items, such as in the kitchen or bathroom?
- Do you bend down to use appliances or reach things frequently.
After listing your concerns, mark each with a ranking: important to less important. Then working with an architect, designer or Senior consultant, determine easy ways to solve the issues that are most important to you. Use that information to create a plan for how you might tackle each issue based on the importance and potential cost in phases, as you can afford.