100 Year House Design

“Aging in place” refers to living where you have lived for years, typically not in a  health care environment, using products, services, and conveniences which allow you to remain home as circumstances change. In other words, you continue to live in the home of your choice safely and independently as you get older.

We talk to our clients about making decisions for renovations and new construction based on the idea of the 100 year house. Are there things that can be considered now that will allow the most flexibility as your circumstances change in life? For instance, you can frame for grab bars to be installed later, but if the framing is not there, installation of the grab bars means tearing out drywall in the future. You can also design multiple height counters in the kitchen so you can work while sitting or standing, this also gives the kids a place to “help” in the kitchen now. While there are just two simple things that you might not even notice, they will provide for dignity, security, and peace of mind as you get older. Some more advanced options that you could consider are web cams and voice command systems to allow for security and independence, pre-wire for medical support monitoring systems, installation of  hazardous waste disposal systems, and plan for oxygen and a lift for mobility. 

While you may not want to install all these options in your home, you should look at ways to stretch out our homes livability. Simple design modifications will allow for long-term security and comfort and save you money over the life of the project.

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  1. Corrie Davidson Reply

    Very interesting and thoughtful ideas… do people plan on aging in a single home anymore? Regardless, something for builders/architects to consider…

    • harrisonburg architect Reply

      I think many of our clients are looking for single family homes that they can build now and live in for the rest of their lives. The time of building a home that is intended to last 30 years before major renovations are required is gone. Our clients want value that minimizes their environmental impact and what better value than not having to build another home.

  2. Joaquin Erazo, Jr. Reply

    Planning a home to facilitate the future installation of grab bars is a great idea, and one we will start mentioning to our home remodel clients. Thanks for that tip!

    Another consideration, especially useful when working with an architect to design your 100-year house, is ensuring adequate room for mobility-assistance devices such as scooters. Some kitchens and baths don’t seem to plan beyond the immediate future, which can lead to expensive renovations down the road.

    Thanks again!

  3. harrisonburg architect Reply

    Indeed, the bathroom is probably the most critical space for a broader vision. We often hear that clients want to design for wheelchair access. However, scooters are wider than wheelchairs, so this should be considered. You can make some really nice entries with double doors that will allow for scooter access. The other consideration is that most people that have to use a wheelchair late in life don’t have the upper body strength needed to lift themselves out of the wheelchair. So the design should accommodate space for someone to help you in those spaces where you need to transition out of the wheelchair.

    It is actually more likely that you will not be in a wheelchair, but you will have vision problems, so lighting is another important consideration along with flooring materials and transitions.

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