September is National Preparedness month with the hashtag, #BeReady. It is about being ready for emergencies (fire, long term power outage, loss of water supply) or disasters (earthquake…): having an emergency kit assembled (food, water, flashlight, blankets, tools, matches, toiletries etc.), and a family plan of action and means of communication.
That wisdom of being prepared for the future is relevant to home remodeling too. Previously the consideration included: what if you or a loved one were in an accident or had a stroke and were not as mobile or were wheelchair bound in recovery, how easily could they live in your home as it is? If this is your forever home, how well will your house meet your needs as you age? Now that we have experienced a pandemic, we can add these questions: what if a family member was sick and needed to isolate? What if you needed to bring your parents to stay in your home? Do you have a quiet place for a home office? For children or grandchildren to do online learning? It is more cost effective to do the space planning and design elements as a part of your upcoming home remodeling project, rather than trying to retrofit later. Here are some aspects to consider.
Have at least one zero threshold covered entry into the home. A keyless entry or a smart lock might be helpful, or one with audio and video so you can be alerted to someone approaching and talk to them from wherever you are. Someone in a wheelchair will need doorways in the home to be at least 32” wide and hallways to be at least 36” wide.
Have a stretch of counterspace at a height of 30”, and a section of upper cabinetry that comes down to the countertop for easy access if one is in a wheelchair. Consider a wall oven with side opening door, and a raised dishwasher. Have lower cabinets with roll out shelves or drawers. Round the corners of countertops. Have an adequately sized pantry for storage of bulk items and to easily see what you have on hand.
Master Bathroom Remodeling
Have a no-threshold walk-in shower, with grab bars and shower seat/bench and adjustable height shower head. Specify a comfort height toilet with a nearby outlet for a bidet seat. Have the vanity be up at least 10” off the floor for greater wheelchair accessibility. Mats are a trip hazard, so consider if you would like to have in-floor heated tile on your non-slip floor.
Second Master Suite or In-Law Suite
Have one master bedroom and accessible bathroom on the first floor if possible. Making it an in-law suite includes a seating and eating area and a wet bar/kitchenette for some separation and independence if you have parents who may stay with you. It could also be used for income as an air bnb or for a roommate with an exterior entrance. Dual Masters are becoming more popular, and if someone needs to quarantine, they would have their own bathroom.
Home Office or Exercise Room
If you’re working or schooling from home, an office can separate you from the noise from the rest of the house. You can plan how you you’re your background to be for zoom calls. Perhaps you want to exercise more from home. Some have made their guest room the exercise room by getting a murphy bed to free up space to move. You may want to do a casita for this purpose or for an in-law suite.
General Home Tips
Select quality non-slip vinyl flooring for the home, it is durable, waterproof, easier on the joints, and has more give in case of a fall. Contrast colors for any steps or stairs, or for countertops to provide visual cues in pathways. Lighting is important, with lots of natural light, perhaps some motion sensor lighting for hallways, stairs. Ask for outlets to be higher (easier to reach), for rocker switches (illuminate important ones), and lever door handles. Make sure you have a good fresh air exchange since indoor air is polluted. (It can be turned off if outdoor air becomes heavily polluted).
You will find comfort by making your home ready to serve changing needs. It is peace of mind making your home safer and facilitating an independent lifestyle when doing home remodeling.
Happy home remodeling!