Boomers Seeking to Age in Place are Fueling a Remodeling Boom
If you’re a home remodeler, the future for your business appears to looks bright – thanks to a growing number of baby boomers who are remodeling their homes so they can age in place.
That’s according to an article that appeared very recently on the website of the Associated Press, called “If You Build it, They’ll Stay.” You’ll find the article by clicking here. According to the AP, baby boomers are causing (pardon the expression) a boom in remodeling as they upgrade their homes for the long haul. There are an estimated 76.4 million post-war boomers today, with the oldest cohort just turning 71. As these aging boomers start making housing decisions for their retirement years, quite a few of them have decided the home they’re in now will suit them just fine – with some modification.
Remodeling contractors in many parts of the country are seeing a resulting spike in their businesses. “The small businesses that dominate the home remodeling industry are expecting robust growth in the next few years,” the AP reports, “thanks partly to baby boomers who want to remain in their homes.” The article suggests that many remodelers have seen “a pickup in projects from boomers who are retired or approaching retirement and are seeking to modify their houses.” Instead of moving to a smaller home, an apartment, or a condominium, “aging in place” allows seniors to live much of their retirement in the homes they love, surrounded by familiar neighbors and the community attributes they appreciate.
The Associated Press article quotes one contractor who “estimates that 30 to 40 percent of his revenue is now coming from boomer renovations.” Just five years ago the total was about half that. According to this remodeler, located in Louisiana, “Most of the projects come from homeowners who are healthy and mobile now, but want to be prepared if illness or injury hits.” A study released just a few months ago by Harvard University predicts that, by 2025, “home improvement spending by homeowners 65 and older will account for nearly a third of the total amount of remodeling dollars.” That’s double the spending by that same age group a decade or two ago. If you broaden that age range to 55 and older, which includes most of the youngest baby boomers, they represent a bit more than half of all home improvement spending. No wonder remodelers are taking notice.
What kinds of projects are encompassed under the heading of “aging in place”? Often the remodeling list is all about safety: widening hallways, replacing high step-over bathtubs with walk-in models, making hallways wider and bathrooms more spacious to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs, and replacing door knobs with easier-to-use door handles. All these design improvements not only appeal to retirees – they also make the home more livable for just about anyone. That’s why many remodelers use the term “universal design” to describe this range of upgrades and improvements: they can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of age or infirmity. On a website called Aging in Place (www.aginginplace.com) we discovered this list of 5 essential features found in a home that offers “universal design.” These include:
- At least one “no-step” entry into the home for safe, easy access
- Single-floor living, with bedroom, kitchen, a full bathroom and entertainment space on one floor
- Wide doorways and hallways – at least 36 inches and ideally 42 inches to get around easily and safely
- Controls and switches that anyone can reach, even from a wheelchair
- Door handles, faucets and light switches that are easy to use, regardless of age.
But many remodels go far beyond pure function: they also include amenities designed chiefly to make the house more enjoyable, such as remodeled and upgraded kitchens. “Boomers are redoing their kitchens and sprucing up other areas — since they’re staying put, they want to enjoy their surroundings,” the AP says.
If you’re curious about aging in place, we encourage you to call us here at AgingOptions. We can refer you to qualified contractors who understand the particular needs of aging homeowners. But we also urge you to remember that deciding where you want to live, as important as that is, constitutes only part of a good retirement plan. Your housing choices are inextricably linked to your financial health, for example, so you’ll need both a “housing plan” and a “financial plan” as you prepare for your retirement. Still, if you think of retirement planning as a pie, these two “slices” only represent a portion. A good retirement plan also needs to help you map out your legal affairs to ensure that you and your loved ones are protected. Your plan also must encompass your medical needs and guide you into selecting the right type and amount of insurance coverage for short term and long term care. And finally your retirement plan is not complete if your family is overlooked: how will you communicate your wishes to your loved ones so that they understand and will abide by your desires as you age?
Fortunately an AgingOptions LifePlan includes all five of these vital facets of retirement planning: financial, legal, medical, family and housing plans. With your LifePlan in place, your future security and peace of mind are assured. Isn’t it time to find out more about how to “lock in” your retirement future, especially in these turbulent times? If you’re ready to invest just a few hours, we invite you to attend a free LifePlanning Seminar in a location that’s convenient for you. Bring yourself, your spouse, your family and your questions! But these seminars do fill up rapidly, so please click here to select and register for the seminar of your choice. Or if you prefer, call us during the week – we’ll be happy to assist you.
(originally reported at https://apnews.com)