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Let's build a retirement house
Old 10-24-2013, 10:23 AM   #1
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Let's build a retirement house

Whether your dream house is 5000sf or 800sf, and even if you are already living in your "permanent" retirement home, you must have ideas of what would make for ease of living, not only now, but in the later years.

To kick this off, I've put together some of the "features" that were incorporated in our 'made for retirement" home, the design of which was state of the art in the year 2000. We are very happy with the design but know that it's not perfect, and think that you may have additions or subtractions, based on your own preferences.

Here, in no particular order are some of the major parts of our "retirement house".

1500sf, 2 car garage, cathedral ceilings, open lving room, dining room, kitchen combination, 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, very large walkin closet in master bedroom, a smaller den/computer/extra bedroom.

-all painted comfortable white interior
-all levered door handles
-thermopaned windows
-all (same) lowpile high quality, light neutral color, wall-to-wall carpeting in all rooms and closets throughout house, except bath and kitchen
-gas fireplace in living room (a must)
-all room electrical plugs 2 feet above floor level (no stooping)
-multiple outlets on all walls total 30 in the open area combination
-kitchen outlets on walls and front of some counters. for small appliances
-kitchen pantry/closet
-SS sink, disposal, dishwasher s/s refrigerator, glasstop electric range, overhead microwave/vent
-master bath raised commode, large walkin shower, double vanity/sink two bath closets. safety tiled floors
-2nd fullsize bath tub/shower, closet
-walkin closet wall shelves, 10 ft. closet rod
-all counters throughout the house... kitchen, baths have roll out drawers
-ceiling fans in all rooms
-all lighting in main rooms have dimmer switches
-built in vacuum system
-all doorways througout are wheelchair accessible, and all rooms and outside doors have shotgun access (no turns)
-all rooms have built in TV/computer cable access
-gas furnace, gas HWH, air conditioning,
-no cellar
-no doorsills throughout house except small ones at front and back door
-no steps anywhere, from the street to anywhere in the house
-large landry room with slider doors to easy access utility room
-garage is oversize with three level wall shelves for storage
-a built-in emergency call system... wall string pulls in all rooms and integrated with fire alarm and security system. (We have disconnected because of the cost, but can reconnect if necessary)
-exterior is brick and vinyl siding and alminum door and garage door frames
-30 year architectural shingle roof

Some things we would add or subtract or would affect price
Kitchen- closeable counter appliance shelters and multiple plug in strip
Living room floor plugs
Gas line for outside grille
Built in vacuum system... unwieldy, unecessary
Mid grade on most items... ie, Milamine rather than granite counters, basic appliances rather than top of line, (exept for wahsher dryer)

Our general thinking is that although this will be our final home, we don't need to provide "forever" improvements, such as solar panels, sound or intercom systems or any other long term energy saving addition.

No comments on house grounds as we live in a CCRC and all exterior and grounds maintainance part of our association fee.

Not everybody likes vanilla, so you'll have different ideas about quality, design, and your lifestyle... More space for entertaining, larger kitchens, more bedrooms, hardwood floors etc...

If you haven't select a homestead yet, what needs do you have? What size? If you already are living in your retirement home, what additions or improvements do you plan for the long term? Suggestions for retirement accomodations?
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Old 10-24-2013, 11:05 AM   #2
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Have you considered solar heat panels or geothermal? Both are gaining popularity in our area. The cost of installing solar panels has been going down every year. Energy costs are increasing. I guess it depends on where the lines intersect and what the payback is. Having said that, natural gas prices are at an all time low where we live.
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Old 10-24-2013, 11:22 AM   #3
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Lots of good ideas there. Minor comments:
-- Wall-to-wall carpet: Hard to keep it clean and looking good. And, with a wheelchair or walker it makes mobility a >little< more work. My wife has dust allergies, so it was a no-go for us.
-- I'd consider energy efficiency a big plus--it reduces long term costs (and monthly "feeding" of the house). Nothing cosmic, but in most parts of the country it makes sense to have something more than 2x4 construction in walls, and plenty of insulation in the attic.
-- Sturdy casement for doorframes and floor molding. Wheelchairs, walkers, and old folks leaning on the doorframes can tear up standard drywall corners very quickly. Plus, they look good and are less trouble to install before the house is occupied. Consider maintenance-free and waterproof floor moldings (e.g. solid PVC rather than hardwood).
-- Grab bars in the showers/tubs/bathrooms. As a minimum, put in the blocking for them when the room is built and take lots of pictures with measurements so you can find the blocking later to install the hardware.
-- Consider radiant floor heat in at least the most used spaces (bathrooms, maybe the dining area). Old bones appreciate the warmth--as does everyone else. No need to go crazy with expensive boilers and hydronics, simple resistance heating works okay and doesn't cost much to run for a few hours per day. This isn't intended as a major source of the home's heating, just a small "goody".
-- A craft/hobby room that is out of the way and doesn't need to be cleaned up when having company.
-- If in hurricane/tornado country, build a safe room. It can just we a reinforced closet or bathroom, it doesn't need to cost very much to build.
-- Consider an emergency standby generator.
-- "As we get older" climate control becomes more of a necessity. Building in some redundancy can turn an emergency into a minor inconvenience. So, having two furnaces (each serving 1/2 of the house), a gas log fireplace with insert that actually produces heat, and/or a room air conditioner in one room to back-up the central AC can be a smart design choice.
-- Roof: Raised seam metal roofing is gaining popularity in many areas. It's more trouble-free than an asphalt shingle roof.
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Old 10-24-2013, 11:32 AM   #4
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We are building the plan in Home Designer 2014 now.

some of ours:

Ranch design
Metal Roof
Hardwood/Tile throughout (we have dogs so no choice)
Split with master on one side and 2nd bedroom/study on the other
One large open room for kitchen/dining/family
Granite counter tops island/full back splash
Large window over sink
Extra large pantry
Enclosed screened porch
Garage floor level with entry floor
Vermont insert into fireplace to create heat
Full basement with room for food storage
Generator
Built in Gun Safe
Any splurging will be in the Kitchen
There is one other item still under negotiation which most will think a splurge........

There is more but that's a start. I keep a running spreadsheet of stuff to incorporate so interested in ideas.

I say "full granite back splash" But that's because we re struggling matching any other color/texture to the granite we like.

I can do renderings of the plan and post later.
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Old 10-24-2013, 11:37 AM   #5
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Wow except for our basement, which is 50% finished with the rest dedicated to exercise and computer equipment and two steps up to enter our home, ours matches yours pretty close. In our case however after 8+ years we (2 of us) find we have way too much space and could do with a lot less square footage maybe half as much. Here the basement SF is not counted just the other 1,510 SF is counted. The main level MBR was a must for us also. Recently have reduced carpeting and installed stranded bamboo flooring in the LR/DR also. It is a Ranch condo too (not always so easy to find).
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Old 10-24-2013, 11:47 AM   #6
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The built-in vacuum system will catch fire. Before that, the hoses will disintegrate. Uberalles, maybe you have been at the pharmaceuticals too much again? Maybe you need to ditch the subscription to Sunset magazine.
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Old 10-24-2013, 12:00 PM   #7
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Our old house is lacking a lot of those amenities but can be retrofitted with some. The biggest problem could be stairs, but companies will come in on short notice and install electric stair chairs if that will suffice. I haven't investigated whether they have stair lifts that can grab and lift a wheelchair. That would be ideal.

For us, as important as the house is the broader environment. We plan to stay put in a walkable area where being able to drive is not essential. We are also already active in a "Village" non-profit aging in place support group, curently as member volunteers and later as member service recipients. Long term care insurance is the last piece that will, hopefully, get us through to the final crash.


But, let's face it, the best laid plans o mice and men...
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Old 10-24-2013, 12:14 PM   #8
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I always though I would want an old cabin in the woods.



Well maybe not that small. Now I'm a little more interested in finding something closer to the gulf coast. Still looking. As far as a detail list of must haves, no need. I'm open from patio homes to condos. Probably won't go the condo route as my lab has as a tendency to bark when he hears doors slam. So need a little space.
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Old 10-24-2013, 01:13 PM   #9
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Around 300sq ft.
Most likely would buy used instead of new.
Probably something like the picture below.
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File Type: jpg gemini_beached.jpg (89.5 KB, 14 views)
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Old 10-24-2013, 01:25 PM   #10
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I thought this looked a little like a "lab," itself! The kind where the Chef is cooking way out in the woods. Catches fire now and then

Actually your dream home is quite picturesque

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I always though I would want an old cabin in the woods.



. Probably won't go the condo route as my lab has as a tendency to bark when he hears doors slam. So need a little space.
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Old 10-24-2013, 01:28 PM   #11
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Around 300sq ft.
Most likely would buy used instead of new.
Probably something like the picture below.
Gemini 105Mc .... perfect, except no raised toilet in the head.
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Old 10-24-2013, 01:45 PM   #12
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I always though I would want an old cabin in the woods.



.
I already have one of those
Xcept DW will have none of it. Her idea of camping is a hilton on the beach with waiter service. Never mind actually living in a cool shanty.
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Old 10-24-2013, 02:15 PM   #13
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Imoldernu's retirement house sounds good to me but I want a few more items:Large garden tub - I'm one of those odd people who prefer baths and my current full size tub is a little too small. Want to soak those arthritic spots.Agree with those who prefer no or less carpet as I also have pets and plan to have pets in future.MBR on 1st level. Originally I did not want a two story house at all. But after having physical therapy for my bursitis, I have started going up and down steps as part of my exercise routine and found it to be good for my knees and hips if done correctly.A small deck or patio with a view e.g., mountains, city view, golf course. Also a small enclosed yard for that little yippy lapdog that I plan to obtain when I retire (after I have done some travel).A higher end kitchen just because it is pretty (and space is open to living area) but also with more cabinets, counterspace, and a pantry. Need to store all those kitchen appliances and gadgets that I plan to purchase. Want to spend more time cooking (actually learning to cook) in retirement. Current 1962 kitchen is cramped.About 1800 SF - 1500 SF sounds too small especially if there is a 3rd bedroom/office area.
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Old 10-24-2013, 03:04 PM   #14
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My ideal retirement home would be fitted with Rosy the Robot.
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Old 10-24-2013, 03:30 PM   #15
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I thought this looked a little like a "lab," itself! The kind where the Chef is cooking way out in the woods. Catches fire now and then
I have no idea what you are talking about.

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Old 10-24-2013, 03:42 PM   #16
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The built-in vacuum system will catch fire. Before that, the hoses will disintegrate. Uberalles, maybe you have been at the pharmaceuticals too much again? Maybe you need to ditch the subscription to Sunset magazine.
The wife of one of my previous bosses used their central vac to clean out the ashes in the fireplace. Deep in the ashes were hot coals that the air flow brought back to life in the walls of their nice new home. Fire dept had to rip out three walls and destroyed the vac unit in the garage. They were lucky she quickly realized what had happened and called for help. Left alone for just a little longer and they may have lost much of the house.
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Old 10-24-2013, 07:14 PM   #17
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Oh dear. This reminds me of the warning on paper grocery bags (back when those were still in use): "Do not put fireplace ashes in this bag."

Amethyst

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The wife of one of my previous bosses used their central vac to clean out the ashes in the fireplace. Deep in the ashes were hot coals that the air flow brought back to life in the walls of their nice new home. Fire dept had to rip out three walls and destroyed the vac unit in the garage. They were lucky she quickly realized what had happened and called for help. Left alone for just a little longer and they may have lost much of the house.
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Old 10-24-2013, 08:03 PM   #18
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I am too far from being age impaired to have given much thought to housing, but I will say two good things about central vacs - they are much quieter with the horsepower in the garage and as an allergy sufferer I like the idea of the dust exhausting outside.
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Old 10-24-2013, 09:42 PM   #19
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Ranch style (metal shingles) with ramps, no steps. Wide doors with door handles, for impaired hands, no knobs. Wide halls for wheelchair access. Shower with hospital type faucets and grab bars. Washer and dryer by the bedroom and bathrooms. Emergency generator, fireplace, air exchanger and much insulation. The goal is to age in place. Also, a safe room for mother nature's fury.

Amenities are a four season room, garden and tool shop.

We take possession of our house on Nov 15th. Door handles, faucets need to be changed, lights to be LEDs. and shingle to metal shingle sometime when I retire. I wanted to get a 15 yr adjustable rate loan (3%), but ended paying cash.
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Old 10-25-2013, 05:49 AM   #20
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Our retirement house has a lot of what you and others have posted. We don't care for carpeting so have hardwood floors throughout. We have a central vacuum with a Hide-A-Hose where the hose is stored inside the tubing that runs to the central unit. Have to be a bit extra careful with the installation but we really like not having to lug the hose to the inlet- when you're done, you cover the hose with your hand and the hose is sucked back in to the tube.

As we've gotten older, we find we want more lighting so in this house, we went overboard on the lighting, especially in the kitchen. My son says we heat with our kitchen lighting but someday he'll appreciate them even more.

We have a screen porch as well that gets a lot of use. Good luck to all with their planning and builds!
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