Helping baby boomers achieve flexible homes
Over the years, many of Hawaii’s baby boomers have viewed the world and lived their lives differently than previous generations. So it’s not surprising that as they reach middle age, their dream retirement home also differs from that of their predecessors.
Many local baby boomers are not planning to downscale after they retire, or at least not to the extent that their parents did. Today, the middle-aged population in Hawaii has grown accustomed to larger homes — and it’s not just in Hawaii. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average size of new American homes has doubled in the last half century — from 983 square feet in 1950 to 2,225 square feet in 1999.
That’s not to say local baby boomers aren’t planning for the future in practical ways. As they approach middle age, more and more of them are choosing flexible homes that will allow them to age in place. Here are some of the amenities they are looking for:
1. In general, this group wants open floor plans — wider hallways and 30-inch (minimum) doorways to make their homes appealing without giving them an “old folks” look. This can be accomplished in smaller homes by creating fewer, larger rooms.
2. Oversized windows make a home bright and airy, while providing the extra light that may be necessary as visual acuity decreases. Task lighting should also be added in work areas in the kitchen and garage.
3. Adequate dining space is especially important as they have more time for extended family gatherings and entertaining. Given the choice between a formal living or dining room, most will choose the dining room.
4. The master bedroom should be large enough to accommodate a wheelchair after furniture is in place. The master bath should also have ample clearance, plus a walk-in shower, preferably with a built-in seat.
5. Kitchens should have room for a wheelchair to move around freely. Side-by-side refrigerator/freezers and side-swing or wall ovens are easier for someone in a wheelchair to use.
Microwaves should be at counter height or in a wall. Cabinet heights and provisions such as pull-down shelving can be adjusted and added as the need arises.
6. In July of this year, Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed Bill 27 into law in order to waive the building permit fees and wastewater connection fees for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) for a period of two years. Local homeowner’s should take advantage of this benefit if thinking about building an ADU.
If Hawaii’s boomers do some extra planning when they build a home or an ADU, they can eliminate the need to move or renovate their home in 10-15 years. Drafting Solutions LLC has more than 10 years of residential design experience in Hawaii. Call for a free consultation.
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