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Retirement/Dream Home Suggestions
Old 04-12-2018, 06:07 AM   #1
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Retirement/Dream Home Suggestions

We are about to start the process of designing and building what we consider our retirement home. We have a deposit on a lot in Western Colorado, high on a mesa overlooking mountainous BLM land and the city, a town of about 75,000 souls. Spectacular views.

The house is going to be smaller than our current home, all one level, energy efficient and all that, but what would you add into the design knowing it was going to be a house you planned to age in? We are doing a custom build so we can design it for the most part anyway we like, within the developments design guidelines which are mostly for outside appearance.

Thoughts?
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Old 04-12-2018, 06:27 AM   #2
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We are probably going to do the same thing (like tomorrow?). One thing we are going to ask for are wider doorways. My wife's knees and back are bad enough that she will probably end up n a wheelchair eventually.
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Old 04-12-2018, 06:42 AM   #3
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Amazing views and a great outdoor space
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Old 04-12-2018, 06:48 AM   #4
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This looks like it has some good things to consider:

Everything You Should Know About Designing a Home for Aging in Place
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Old 04-12-2018, 06:52 AM   #5
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We are probably going to do the same thing (like tomorrow?). One thing we are going to ask for are wider doorways. My wife's knees and back are bad enough that she will probably end up n a wheelchair eventually.
When building for retirement living it is always good to think about accommodations for reduced mobility... some other things to think about would be counter-top height islands, single level, wider hallways, door lever instead of knobs, carpet instead of slippery hardwood, grab bars in bathroom, no step entry, adjustable closet shelves, and lots of light (especially outside).
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Old 04-12-2018, 06:58 AM   #6
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Sounds like you are in GJT. Since water is scarce there do plenty of xeriscaping, less water and easier to maintain. Get all the water saving devices you can. Great place for solar. Are you considering?
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Old 04-12-2018, 07:03 AM   #7
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I know I've seen a thread like this before. Search finds Creative design ideas in your dream house - or for your future dream house .
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You cannot over plan
Old 04-12-2018, 07:28 AM   #8
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You cannot over plan

Hire an architect. Find one who understands UD.
Subscribe to magazines. Fine Homebuilding is one.
Start a scrap book.
Spend at least 12+ months planning. Paper is cheap, change orders are not.
Spec everything. Down to drywall screws. Have a friend who is anal retentive go over the plans.

We did all this for a major renovation where reno costs equaled purchase price.
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Old 04-12-2018, 07:35 AM   #9
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A hot tub with views
An outdoor fire pit with views
Large windows with views

Have fun!
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Old 04-12-2018, 07:46 AM   #10
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Is there a place where you can tour similar retirement homes?
You can pick up some ideas there, as well as Pinterest and Houzz.

My next house is going to be smaller, one level, maintenance free, no trees, minimal plantings - anything that makes for a more comfortable, less work lifestyle.
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Old 04-12-2018, 08:38 AM   #11
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The yard will be all xeriscaped since the environment is really considered high desert. So there will be little to no yard work.
We already have an architect, but they will follow our guidance on most things.
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Old 04-12-2018, 09:32 AM   #12
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Just closed on 1.5 acre in a gated community last week. Nice view of hill country, but not the same class as Rocky Mountains.

My timeline to build is still far away, will start designing in summer 2021 and building early 2022. My kid will graduate 2023 from the top rated high school around the time we move. And my future home may not be in the same school district. I own a couple of possible sites, and I am still looking in the next 3 years.

Our next home will be downsizing but upgrading; it will go from 5000 to 3500 sqft, from 2 levels to 1 level.

We love our current floor plan. We may very well choose to stay for another 20 years. It is a bit waste to have a pool table and air hockey, but nobody is using them. I thought our home theater was also a waste, but my kids are starting to like them.

I measured our current home room size and use that as the base line.

Master will stay the same 14 by 17. Master bath and closet will increase a bit from 10 by 32, to accommodate the sauna room.

Great room will increase from 18 by 23.5 to 20 by 25.

Kitchen will increase from 11 by 15 to 13 by 18. DW complaining about lack of storage for her tools. She wants window for the kitchen, too.

Breakfast stay the same at 11 by 13 and dinning at 12 by 16.

Laundry and mud 10 by 10.

Two bedrooms + baths for the kids will increase a bit to (12 +6) by 13.

Study will increase from 11 by 12 to around 13 by 14. We plan to use it as gym instead, so need to research whether 180 sqst is enough. We have gym/library now, but bit too small.

Junior master bedroom will be 13 by 15. It will be used as home theater. A bit smaller than our current which is 14 X 17.
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Old 04-12-2018, 09:34 AM   #13
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One more important thing, our current home is 11 feet for the first floor.

I am debating whether to make it 12 feet.
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Old 04-12-2018, 09:55 AM   #14
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What a great project. We're about to do the same thing, but not full custom and our budget is likely smaller. We have a spreadsheet with everything we can think of, must haves, acceptables, and no-go features. Of course reno can come into play for some things (paint, counters) and not others (flood risk, location). Like others have said, the only common denominator many of us may have for a forever home is planning on UD. Neither of us have any disabilities, but we'll plan on a wheelchair friendly home anyway, among many other UD features. Not that expensive when included in the plans, vs modifying after the fact. Good luck, have fun!
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Old 04-12-2018, 10:00 AM   #15
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1. An elevated toilet bowl.

2. E-Z Breeze your porch. This will allow you to enjoy the outdoors in all types of weather. If the sun is out, your porch will be warm no matter how cold it is outside. Our porch has become my favorite room in the house.
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Old 04-12-2018, 10:05 AM   #16
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Some random thoughts, not specific to aging:

Besides views, consider the optimum solar orientation of each space. Do you light morning light in the master bedroom, or kitchen? Will your deck/patio be in the sun or shade at the times you're most likely to use them? Will brutal afternoon sun force you to close the shades, blocking the view?

We remodeled and added LED lighting throughout, controllable by an app. (Lutron Caseta system) I absolutely love this. We have created "scenes" for morning, evening, arriving home, etc. and the ability to control multiple lights at once remotely and automatically is great. Also, it can be set to randomize while traveling.

For general ideas about building, check out the books by Sarah Susanka. Her original book is The Not So Big House, but she has followed up with several others so it's now a series. Her thing is about building a right-sized house with spaces you'll actually use fully. Smaller, not small, and not necessary cheaper.

Make your kitchen base cabinets all drawers. So much easier to access than squatting and reaching into base cabinets with doors.
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Old 04-12-2018, 10:51 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by COcheesehead View Post
The house is going to be smaller than our current home, all one level, energy efficient and all that, but what would you add into the design knowing it was going to be a house you planned to age in?
There are so many little changes to be done, that can make a huge difference. The prior owner of my house was elderly and disabled, so many of the changes had already been done when I moved in. At 69, I already appreciate many of these accommodations even though I probably don't totally need all of them already. The following is a list of things she had already done to my house, for the most part, and I probably forgot some but here you go.

GENERAL: Some important things to think of before your house is built, would be sufficiently wide doorways (and hallways, if you have them) so that you can get from the living area, to your bed, to the bathroom, toilet, and roll-in shower, easily even if using a wheelchair or walker. My house has the lever handles on all doors. Even though I have zero arthritis in my hands and don't need them, they are fine and I don't even notice them so I think that's a good idea too. If you choose carpet, you might want to pick something with a very low pile so that wheelchairs, walkers, or carts can glide over it smoothly.

BATHROOM: Put solidly anchored grab bars not only in several locations in the shower, but also on the wall in other parts of the bathroom, near the toilet, and so on. These can help to steady you and help to prevent falls. I joke that the grab bars in my bathroom are anchored to the center of the earth and sturdy enough for a sumo wrestler to do handstands on them, but really, they should be awfully sturdy like mine and this would be easiest to arrange when building the home I would think.

SHOWER STUFF: A built in shower bench at least 20"-22" high would be nice for the elderly with sore knees, with grab bars placed to help them stand up from it. Something I like about my shower is that it not only has the shower massager (on an extra-long hose), but also it has several different thingies on the shower wall where the massager end can be hung, either for usage as a shower head for different height people or to be easily reached if one is sitting on a shower bench or seat in there. Think hard about grab bar placement, size, and orientation so that an older person could hold two of them, not just one, when standing or getting into or out of the shower.

EXTERIOR DOORWAYS AND GARAGE: Think about getting into the house and out of it. You probably can't make the entry perfectly flat, but there is no need for any extra steps to navigate. My house has a waist high metal table just outside the door with a sturdy wooden rail on it. I can put items down on the table so that my hands are free; thus I can hang on to the rail while opening the door, stepping up the two very low (2"?) steps, and stepping through the doorway. This has already been very helpful to me for fall prevention. Also, the concrete from my back door to the door of my garage is perfectly smooth and not steep; it would be easy to navigate in a wheelchair, or when pushing a cart with items being taken to or from the car, or whatever.

KITCHEN: In the kitchen, remember that some with severe arthritis or other conditions find it difficult to deal with cabinets that are very high or low. Include some pantry cabinets that have shelves that are conveniently waist high, that could be used instead. Include an island or kitchen bar area where you could sit while preparing food, in case it becomes more difficult to stand for a long time as you age. And definitely do install deep drawers instead of lower cabinets.

BEDROOMS: I can't think of much here, except that wide closet doors might make it easier to access clothes if wheelchair bound. I have double doors on my bedroom closets.

LIGHT FIXTURES: When your ladder climbing (or stepstool climbing) days are behind you, you will really appreciate being able to change lightbulbs in your light fixtures while standing flatfooted on the floor. My overhead lights are ceiling fans with light kits and so I can do that.

YARD: And yes, do insist that your yard is xeriscaped or whatever requires the least work in your climate. In the New Orleans climate we have a huge annual rainfall, along with an overabundance of sunshine and heat. Grass grows like crazy here, with no need for watering or fertilizing. So, I have nothing but grass growing in my yard, and a lawn guy to mow and edge it. All I do about the yard is to pay him. I have done absolutely zero yard work myself, in the past three years.

Something that isn't done already to this house, that I will be thinking of in the next few years, is some way to open or close the blinds remotely instead of having to get up and do that when I am a billion years old. I'm sure there must be some way.

Hope this helps.
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Old 04-12-2018, 11:00 AM   #18
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1. An elevated toilet bowl.

2. E-Z Breeze your porch. This will allow you to enjoy the outdoors in all types of weather. If the sun is out, your porch will be warm no matter how cold it is outside. Our porch has become my favorite room in the house.
Years ago, we bought a house for DMIL so she would move closer to us. She bugged me to put in an elevated toilet bowl; so I consented, started researching. Three days later, she had the toilet replaced on her dime (she insisted) before I had a chance to get one and install. She paid $880 for commode and installation. I was livid.

I went beserk after I found out the commode was only 1 1/8" higher.
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Old 04-12-2018, 11:09 AM   #19
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Only suggestion I have is in our kitchen we put the separate oven so that the oven rack is the same height as the countertop. Makes it easier and safer to transfer hot dishes.
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Old 04-12-2018, 11:27 AM   #20
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Only suggestion I have is in our kitchen we put the separate oven so that the oven rack is the same height as the countertop. Makes it easier and safer to transfer hot dishes.
Terrific idea!
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