Baby boomers lead new housing trends

By Karen Nakamura Posted in: BIARemodel

The largest American generation is either retired or quickly nearing retirement age. Baby boomers, the generation born between 1946 and 1964 and who count more than 76 million, may be getting older, but they are definitely not ready to head to the retirement home!

The boomer generation is active, has a more sophisticated style and wants options and choices in their homes. Some features that remodelers are seeing as they begin to cater to the boomers include:

Home offices

Some boomers are choosing to work past the age of 65. As they transition from a traditional 9-to-5 job, however, they want home offices for flexibility. A second career or part-time employment often eliminates the hassle of commuting while keeping them active and bringing in supplementary income.

Tech/media centers

The tech-savvy boomer generation wants top-of-the-line amenities for their homes such as a media room with surround sound and central control systems, which manage all media sources in one location. The house may include a wireless home network (Wi-Fi), remote control lighting and security features.

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Wider doors and hallways

Designing a home that is livable now but can transition and be functional as the occupant ages is important in ensuring that the home will be a good long-term investment. Wider doors and hallways are useful for moving larger furniture today, and will also be wheelchair accessible tomorrow.

Better lighting/bigger windows

The need for more lighting usually increases as we grow older. To accommodate this, builders are adding more windows and making them larger to let in more natural light. They are also adding more light fixtures in areas including under cabinets and in stairwells.

First-floor bedrooms and bathrooms

More than 40 percent of new homes have master suites downstairs, a 15 percent increase from a decade ago. Boomers not wishing to go up and down stairs with bad knees and aching backs have helped fuel this trend. The bedrooms are also bigger, with larger walk-in closets and bathrooms that have a separate tub and shower and dual sinks.

To find a designated Certified Active Adult Specialist in Housing (CAASH) or Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) builder or remodeler in your area, contact Building Industry Association of Hawaii at www.biahawaii.org.

Karen Nakamura is CEO of the Building Industry Association of Hawaii.