Retirement Planning: Design With an Eye to the Future

Myers Constructs Inc. can help you with your retirement renovation planning

Here in our office, we are seeing an uptick in calls from prospective clients who are preparing for retirement. Some are planning ahead for “aging in place,” if they plan to live in their homes long term, while others are making modifications for their aging parents or special-needs children who live with them. Our challenge in these projects is determining how to successfully update these older homes to make them more accessible and accommodating while factoring in the changing needs of the families who live there. Here’s a look at our process.

The first step is conducting a survey of the house to learn how it currently works. We then interview the homeowners and any in-home care providers about the pros and cons of the existing space. This allows us to learn how the house fits the needs of the people living in it and what changes need to be made. These problems find solutions in the planning phase, where the renovations are “built” on paper first. Those solutions often include the following:

Additions — A multi-story home might require a first-floor addition to accommodate the needs of someone in a wheelchair or who is no longer comfortable with stairs. We can even incorporate an elevator into a long-term plan, and the designated space can be used for closet storage until the elevator is needed.

Doorways and Hallways — These elements can be widened or removed altogether.

Accessible Bathrooms — They are fairly simple to design, and can be very stylish, as well. They don’t need to look like hospital bathrooms.

Accessible Kitchens — These can be very chic spaces everyone enjoys using together. Anyone should be able to operate a great kitchen, even if they are in a chair or scooter, have arthritis, or are simply aging. There are many great products we can specify to help with accessing cabinets, doors, appliances, faucets, and the like.

Lighting — This is a feature we notice more as we age and our eyes become weaker. Where a few high hats in the kitchen would have been fine for someone in their 30s, a middle-aged or older person will need much more light. Sight-impaired individuals obviously have other special lighting needs. Knowing what a person needs now and in the future helps us to design needed features into a project.

The key to accessible homes is making them logical, attractive, and easy to use for everyone, no matter their abilities. They are not hard to do well, but they do require some thoughtfulness and good planning.

Image: garryknight

The Price of Home Renovation: What People Are Spending

More and more, we see homeowners who are investing in their homes because they plan to stay there for the long haul. They want to enjoy living in their homes while they are there, and they see that the investments they make now will lead to an easier sale in the future when they decide it’s time to leave. If you fall into this category, knowing what other people are investing in their homes will help you make good decisions about what to spend on your own.

Make no mistake: cheaper is always going to look cheaper — both to you and to the future buyers of your home. And do not default to “builder beige” just because you think that will improve your home’s future value. It doesn’t. And this isn’t about resale value. It’s about investing in your property so you can enjoy it. When the time does come to sell, the people looking at your home will see a beautiful home, not just another house.

Our company works primarily in older homes in the greater metropolitan Philadelphia area, including sections of Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware County and parts of neighboring New Jersey. We see, time and time again, that homes built prior to 1950 were typically very well made, and they lasted a long time. But, by the time we are called in, we have to rebuild the rooms that kitchens and bathrooms are going into. We are not just popping in new cabinets and paint. You can see examples of full gut kitchen and bathroom remodels we typically do by tapping the “projects images tab” on our web site menu.

Renovations for most project homes we work on fall into five main categories:

1. Smaller, modest kitchens

These rooms (12′ x 12′ or less) are gutted out to the studs, rewired and re-plumbed, followed by the installation of all new floors, ceilings and walls. No walls are moved.
Typically, we will do these projects for landlords or clients with modest budgets.
We select good, hardwearing products like maple cabinets and laminate counters. No big bells and whistles on these projects, but we do try to do something special for each. Typical flooring is tile, cork or hardwood.
These projects average $45,000.

2. Mid-size kitchens

Average 16′ x 18′ or larger
Again, we strip out these old rooms to the studs and original sub-flooring, then we rewire and re-plumb the rooms because the rooms usually need many lights, a circuit breaker for each appliance, and new plumbing locations for the various appliances and sinks.
Typically, we do these rooms for homeowners who plan to stay in their house or sell in a few years.
There are many more upgrades in these kitchens, and typical finishes include stained or painted cabinets, stone or granite counters, stainless appliances, nice tile backsplashes, and high-quality cork, tile or site-finished flooring.
Average project costs $82,000

3. Large kitchens

Average 18′ x 20′ or larger
Again, a total strip out to the studs (see above)
Often, we remove load-bearing walls and create new door or window openings
High-quality cabinetry is installed (custom factory made or bespoke locally made by craftsmen). Typical finishes are stained hardwood or painted wood.
These rooms have more bells and whistles, including high-end appliances from Thermador, Wolf, Viking or Sub Zero.
Average project costs $132,000

4. New powder room additions

No plumbing, wiring or walls exist
We install tile or hardwood floors, low-flow, high-style toilets, attractive lighting and high-quality fixtures
Average $18,000

5. Main bathrooms

These are the main household bathrooms in people’s homes, the ones that get the majority of the use.
These are total tear outs, to the studs and joists, which we typically have to repair for structural damage.
These older bathrooms have a few inches of concrete on the floors and walls, under the tile.
We completely rewire and re-plumb these rooms, often replacing the large radiators with radiant floor heat
High-quality, low-flow toilets, and ceramic tubs and sinks are installed
High-quality wall and floor tiles are installed
High-quality accessories like heavy chrome towel rods and towel warmers are installed
Average $56,000

6. Master Bathrooms

These are often very small when we first see them (approx. 8′ x 6′)
To meet modern standards for a master bath, we need to increase their footprint to 8′ x 12′ or more, so we are moving walls and plumbing after we remove the concrete, plaster walls and ceilings.
These rooms get all of the bells and whistles. High-end tile, stone counters, his and hers sinks, shower, tubs, steam rooms, jetted tubs, separate toilet rooms, lots of glass.
Average $84,000 and up