Despite all the news articles about millennials and their home buying habits (or lack thereof), Baby Boomers are still driving the home building and remodeling market — they’re just doing it in different ways. Every Boomer is now over the age of 50, and the oldest members of this group are in their 70’s. That means that Baby Boomers are planning for retirement and figuring out where to spend the final act of their lives.
For many, aging in place is a major goal for the golden years. This generation has always been independent, and they’ve benefited from medical advances that have increased life spans and made it possible to stay alert, active and on the go for decades longer than their grandparents ever expected to. Why plan or pay for a nursing home when you can just make your house work for you? As the number of retired Baby Boomers continues to rise in the coming months and years, the demand for homes and remodeling that makes aging in place easy and convenient will skyrocket as well.
It actually doesn’t take much to turn a house into an appropriate home for older people. The principles of Universal Design outline a series of modifications that are fast becoming the new standard for construction. These ideas are designed to make buildings more accessible for all users, but the same things that help a disabled person navigate a bathroom will also help an elderly user take a safe shower on a daily basis.
Demand for aging in place projects is big, and you might be surprised that some of the most popular projects are also the simplest. According to a survey by NAHB Remodelers, the projects with the biggest bumps in requests since 2013 are the following:
- Better task lighting
- Curb-less showers
- Grab bars and railings
- Non-slip safety flooring
- Widening doorways to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs
These projects aren’t necessarily difficult, and savvy contractors should consider educating clients about Universal Design and providing an aging in place checklist for Boomers to use to plan their living space for the future. Creating packages of services to include the most common remodeling required for aging in place can also make projects more attractive for clients — think of it as a one-stop shop for retiring in the home you already love.
No one has figured out how to turn back the clock, so Baby Boomers — and the Gen X-ers behind them — will only get older. That means that an ever-increasing number of people will be looking for smart construction that supports their needs for many decades. It just makes sense to be ready to provide the right know-how to get the job done in this growing field of construction.