Universal Design Homes Just Might Help You Keep Your Independence So You Don't Have to Move to Florida

By
Real Estate Agent with Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office

No offense to Florida, really. It's a great State! But Clevelanders are 'sticky.' It's one of those high tech terms for those who own a website; we want our websites to  be sticky meaning people visit our sites and then browse for more than a few seconds. Well, that's how I view the Midwest, at least here in Cleveland. Families are here so as people reach retirement age, moving to Florida or anywhere else away from our families is not always a pleasant thought. Moving to a retirement community isn't always a happy thought either.  There are things you can do to your home to make it comfortable for your 'later' years.

You have a couple choices. If you are young and designing your home somewhat (new construction), have the cabinets hung lower than normal. As a short person, this idea would have even appealed to me in my twenties, being able to reach the top shelf (heck, MIDDLE shelf!) of kitchen cabinets. Even tall people can work with cabinets that are lower! Resale value? Terrific.

Found a really helpful article on the Professional Remodeler'swebsite. This is one of their tips that would have never occurred to me: If you are working with a builder on a new construction home and it is multi-story? Have them put two closets, one on each floor, over each other. This way, someone else or even you a few decades down the road, can take out the closets and add an elevator! I would add this: even if you do not have a first floor bedroom (in your new construction home), you could have a linen closet or coat closet on the first floor and a bedroom closet above it. I loved this idea!

The article talks about adaptable or universal designed homes and the above suggestions fall into that category. You can go to the AARP site here for a list of people called Certified Aging In Place Specialists.

Those elegant glam baths that are so popular now. I'm thinking they can be designed without a 'lip' that requires you lift your feet to enter. I've seen some of these, lined in gorgeous marble, etc, and they use an incline with a drain nearby, or alternatively, you walk in and turn a bit (granted, you need more room for this design), and you are in the shower area with a huge drain. This would make it easy to access in a wheelchair, in addition to being safer for someone who needs to not 'step up' to enter a shower area. Grab bars etc can always be added later if you think they are just not sexy enough for your family now. But the Professional Home Re-modelers pointed out that, like anything else, if it's built in when you originally build it, the additional costs are less than if you add it on later. Just a thought.

When Nordstrom installed the motion detector style water faucets in their ladies rooms, I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. Now of course, this technology is available for use in our homes. Not having to turn a faucet on and off is much easier for an elderly person. It can be a glam addition to your bathroom so you can begin enjoying it in your 30s and then still enjoy it in your 80s. This is all part of universal design, and as one of these designers, Falcon Homes, Inc. puts it, 'you can have a home that 'grows gracefully with you.'  For more ideas, check out the above websites. 

 I forgot to add this: apparently Home Depot holds classes on Adaptable/Universal Design ideas, so  you might want to contact them for more information as well.  Peace Out - 3C

 

 

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Rainer
111,655
Carole Cohen
Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office - Cleveland, OH
Realtor, ePRO
TY Michael - seems like we are finally getting on the bandwagon doing what you already know we needed to do.
Jul 19, 2007 09:35 AM #21
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"The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW.
President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc. - Kissimmee, FL

Carole...

Does this mean you will not be moving to Florida and buying my 2,500 sq ft two story home when you retire? LOL.

Geesh...I thought for sure I could sell this sucker to you when it gets to be too much for me :) 

Great post by the way. It's really nice to see a different topic once in awhile :)

TLW...ROAR!

Jul 19, 2007 10:01 AM #22
Rainmaker
597,316
Mitchell J Hall
Compass - Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

 Carole,

Great post, I'm glad you got featured. Universal design sounds very interesting. I've worked with seniors, and more recently I've been working with a buyer that needs wheel chair accessibility and it is a real problem with many apartments.

As far as Florida I want New Yorkers to move there so I can list their apartments and get them a referral in Florida. lol 

Jul 19, 2007 01:04 PM #23
Rainer
111,655
Carole Cohen
Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office - Cleveland, OH
Realtor, ePRO

Hiya TLW: well, a 2500 square foot home that may actually be universal! For me though that would not be downsizing lol.  Thanks for the compliment!

Mitchell we have a few Floridians you can refer to commenting right here lol. Btw, there are probably Ohioans and NYkers still moving South. Are there buildings that tout accessibility? What about new construction apartments, do they have to be accessible? We have a ton of older apartment buildings here that are definitely not accessible.

Jul 19, 2007 01:12 PM #24
Rainer
71,971
Elaine Reese, REALTORĀ® in central Ohio
Real Living HER, Powell Ohio - Powell, OH
Great post - as always. I've had some clients who returned here to be closer to grandkiddies once they arrive. We've got lots of nice condos and patio homes that cater to them. Condos work best for those that like to travel or winter over where it's warm, because they don't have to worry about the lawn or snow removal.
Jul 19, 2007 02:16 PM #25
Rainmaker
513,338
John Elwell
CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc. - Zephyrhills, FL
You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results
I will say one thing for Florida and our Frisky Seniors. When the northern real estate market is in the doldrums the seniors keep on buying and buying. It pays the rent :)
Jul 19, 2007 02:26 PM #26
Rainer
111,655
Carole Cohen
Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office - Cleveland, OH
Realtor, ePRO

Elaine: I like that term, 'patio home.'  and we do not use it here! Isn't that interesting? And condos are starting to sound really good to me again....

Frisky Seniors!  John, I am glad they are keeping the market strong for your community!

Jul 19, 2007 02:58 PM #27
Anonymous
Michelle Burgos

3C - Great Post!  Adaptable/Universal Design could definitely be helpful for resale values.  I especially like the idea of the lower hung cabinets, it is so frustrating not being able to reach the top shelf (ok, I confess...the middle shelf) ~ "it's not easy being shorty!  Gosh, and they say we shrink with age, poor little me, better get my kitchen redone or I will need a 3 ft ladder instead of a stepping stool. JK, lol

As for Florida, I have to agree with Leanne, when she says "the population in Broward County is younger than that of Florida in general."  BTW, quite lively and fun too, come by and visit us some time - sure you will love a little Florida Sunshine :0) 

Jul 19, 2007 03:01 PM #28
Rainer
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Carole Cohen
Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office - Cleveland, OH
Realtor, ePRO
Michelle lol.  Now you have me worried in a few decades we both may be 2 feet tall!  I would love to come and visit Broward at some point! 
Jul 19, 2007 03:07 PM #29
Ambassador
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. 4Terra Land Brokers .. 828-776-0779 Asheville NC
REAL ESTATE RESOURCES & NETWORK - Asheville, NC
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wonderful post and thank you Carole`..I really appreciate the link to the article on the Professional Remodeler'swebsite. I am going to hop on over there to see what energy efficient recommendations they have...if I am going to "age in place" HOHO..I want to do so in style...
Jul 19, 2007 03:07 PM #30
Rainmaker
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Mitchell J Hall
Compass - Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn
The new construction buildings are better because ADA but they are more expensive. Many older buildings many have steps in the lobby.
Jul 19, 2007 03:29 PM #31
Rainer
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Carole Cohen
Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office - Cleveland, OH
Realtor, ePRO

Jane Anne: I love this stuff and you will have to do a post when you find 'aging in place' energy efficient ideas as well. I know the article (or maybe it was the AARP site) talked about making it easier to turn toggles on and plug things into outlets more easily. That doesn't apply to energy efficiency though!

Mitchell hi: even some of the rehabbed buildings - warehouses etc - have elevators, but if they are two story, the stairs inside woud be prohibitive.

Jul 19, 2007 03:34 PM #32
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188,704
Laurie Manny
Long Beach CA Real Estate - Long Beach, CA
Carole, I love this post, so logical to advance plan. Also thanks for the Professional Remodeler's site, didn't know about that one, it is a great resource.  
Jul 20, 2007 06:57 AM #33
Rainer
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Carole Cohen
Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office - Cleveland, OH
Realtor, ePRO

Laurie, hi. It's amazing once you get tuned into something how you notice it. I got on line to set up apptmts for condo showings next Tues and the bldrs website touts one of the complexes as 'universal design;

now I am wondering if there are more than I think! lol.  Thanks Laurie I like that Remodeler's site a lot too!

Jul 20, 2007 03:44 PM #34
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Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

Carole,

 What great information.  I am so tuned into this topic....taking the 2nd half of SRES today, 8:30-5pm and will be using these ideas in class.  ...giving YOU credit, of course! Maybe I can get everyone in the group to sign up for AR!!  Just need 3 more new AR members to meet my goal of 55 invites>

Jul 20, 2007 11:08 PM #35
Rainer
30,396
Geno Petro
GenoPetro.House - Chicago, IL
Carole...thanks for commenting on my recent post. I do appreciate it. also, I liked this piece.

Geno
Jul 21, 2007 01:41 AM #36
Rainer
111,655
Carole Cohen
Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office - Cleveland, OH
Realtor, ePRO

Margaret: What a coincidence and I should have known you would be on the ball...very cool designation to get my friend! 55 invitees....wow!

TY Geno, you are a terrific write, I so enjoy reading your posts

Jul 21, 2007 02:47 AM #37
Rainer
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Sharon Leigh
Sharon's Graphic Reality - Port Saint John, FL
(Graphic Reality) Got PhotoLogo? CandelLife@Gmail.
OK, as a Floridian.... LOL... had to start there! (not offended... he he he) I think this is great advice no mater where a person lives. But send them alldown anyway, always room for more! ;)
Jul 23, 2007 04:44 AM #38
Rainer
111,655
Carole Cohen
Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office - Cleveland, OH
Realtor, ePRO

Hi Sharon! I have yet to have anyone tell me they want to move to FLorida but I'm sure it will happen lol. I'm trying to get into see a Universal design condo complex here in Cleveland tomorrow; of course the bldr must not be hot to trot to sell because it's been about four days and no response yet to any of my calls or emails lol.  That is a topic for a different post :-)

Jul 23, 2007 10:33 AM #39
Rainmaker
147,071
Kaye Thomas
Real Estate West - Manhattan Beach, CA
e-PRO, Manhattan Beach CA
Carol- I think we are going to see a lot more of this in homes as the population ages.. Up until a few years ago there was almost no 55+ housing in the South Bay but more of it is popping up.. I expect to see more of the luxury 55+ housing as opposed to the apt type in the next few years along with home updating for people who want to stay in their homes..
Jul 23, 2007 06:04 PM #40
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