Remodel for aging in place with style
Your kids are successfully launched and, suddenly, you seem to have more disposable income. This could be a good time to tackle the remodeling projects you’ve been putting off.
And while you’re updating your house for style, consider adapting it so you can age in place comfortably.
Studies show that most homeowners age 50 and older say they want to remain in their house as they age, but most U.S. homes weren’t built to accommodate older people’s special needs.
For example, only one-third have basic accessibility features, such as a no-step entry and a bedroom and full bath on the entry level, according to a report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.
If you want to remodel your house to fit your future needs, begin with an inventory. Walk around your home and note the things that are already difficult for you to navigate.
If you’re in good health and it’s hard to imagine the loss of mobility, think of returning home after surgery on crutches or with a walker or in a wheelchair. Can you get into your house? Can you access your bathroom? In many cases, the answer will be no.
One of the most popular projects is to install a curbless shower, even if it means removing the home’s only bathtub. That has long been a no-no because it could reduce the house’s resale value. But that’s becoming less of a concern for homeowners today, said Dan Bawden, owner of Legal Eagle Contractors and a certified aging-in-place specialist in Houston.
Installing maintenance-free materials is also important, Bawden said. For example, quartz countertops in the kitchen and bathroom are super-hard, scratch and stain resistant, and never need sealing, unlike natural stone. Quartz is also less expensive than it used to be.
What will it cost?
For estimated project costs, the annual Cost vs. Value Report from Remodeling magazine is a good resource.
In 2019, the national average cost for a minor kitchen remodel is $22,507, $66,196 for a major remodel, and $131,510 for an upscale project. The average cost for a bathroom remodel is $33,374 for a midrange project that includes design features to fit any age; it’s $64,743 for an upscale remodel.
If you want to add a first-floor master bedroom, the national average cost is $130,986 for a midrange job and $271,470 for an upscale one.
However, if you want to widen a bathroom door, put in grab bars and add a curbless shower, that would typically cost about $11,800 to $14,000 (prices vary by region).
If you’re adding on to your home or building a multistory house, you could prepare for an elevator by stacking 6-foot-square closets. That way, when you’re ready, the contractor can just remove the floor between the closets.
For help designing and constructing larger projects, look for a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist who has completed a program developed by the National Association of Home Builders with AARP. Go to www.nahb.org and search for “CAPS Directory.”
© 2019 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.