“The U.S. Census bureau estimates that by 2030, one in five Americans will be 65 or older. What needs to be done within the housing sector to ensure that the nation is ready?”
First, new home buyers and remodeling customers need to start asking for and thinking about sustainability features now more than ever. We know that the industry will respond to sustained market preferences.
Next, remodelers, builders, architects and interior designers need to get educated about Better Living Design, get certified in it and start to market their BLD homes or BLD remodeling capacity to the public. Marketing Better Living Design means promoting a home’s ease of use and its convenience features that look good and work well as opposed to selling stigmatizing features and wondering why people won’t buy. The industry has to get savvy about explaining BLD.
Bathrooms are great places to add a BLD touch. For example, BLD homes include blocking behind the walls near the toilet, tub and shower. That way if a person someday needs the help of grab bars, the bars can be located anywhere they are needed. A builder or remodeler needs to be able to explain this to customers in a way that points out this hidden element and emphasizes the value-added aspect of it.
Something else a professional can do is suggest the many models of nice-looking hand holds that don’t look a bit like a grab bar but still offer the subtle support that many of us need.
Staying in the bathroom, a toilet can be oriented and placed so there is extra space next to it, leaving room enough for someone who requires a wheelchair or needs a caregiver nearby. The professional needs to be able to explain that if a household doesn’t have a current need for this, the space can be occupied by a nice piece of furniture that can be used for storing toilet paper, towels or other items.
Home builders (and let’s not forget realtors) need to explain to home buyers, “This isn’t wasted space. You can put furniture there, but if grandma comes to visit over the holidays and needs help in the bathroom you can easily move that furniture out of the way.”
People have negative associations with designs that look accessible. That’s why it’s easy to sell no-step, curb-less showers that are becoming really fashionable now. A BLD house that looks good and works for someone today will be able to work for them 10, 20 or 30 years down the line.