Buying a House For Family of all ages

by Gabrielle Di Bianco 08/11/2019

Older and younger family members living in one home is the norm today. If you’re looking for a house to share with your aging parents, remember that while they are still mobile now, there may be a time when they will need help walking, maintaining their balance, negotiating stairs, utilizing a walker or wheelchair, or assistance entering or exiting a bath. 

Inform your real estate agent of your needs and pay attention to essential requirements when multi-generational house-hunting to save yourself costly remodeling in the future:

Doors and hallways

All entry doors, bedroom doors, bathroom doors and those to all family rooms need to be a width of at least 32 inches adequately to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs. If a chair needs to turn to enter or exit the chamber, a door 36 inches wide is required. When the doorway's maximum opening is at 90 degrees (that is it opens against a wall), use the larger door size.

Hallways need to be at least 42 inches wide so that both wheelchairs and walkers have room to maneuver. Add handrails along both sides of the hall, when possible.

Ramps

One external entry door, minimum, must include a threshold ramp. It should be accessible without exterior stairs. Even entryways that have shallow steps should be able to accommodate a wheelchair ramp if necessary.

Bedrooms and baths

Search for a house with at least one ground floor bedroom. While adding elevators or stairlifts are possible, they add considerable expense to your home’s alterations.

Bathroom modifications are expensive, too, so initially, look for a walk-in shower to simplify the process. Consider remodeling one bathroom to include a walk-in bath if no accessible shower exists.

Your bathroom should have a comfort height or ADA compliant toilet, with grab bars (not towel bars), to ensure your older family-member can sit or stand easily. Even a small bathroom can be remodeled to be handicap accessible.

Consider your additional electrical needs. You’ll want easy access to power outlets for both personal and medical devices. Easily operated light switches are essential too. Since extension cords and trailing electrical cables can be trip and fall hazards, you’ll need plenty of outlets installed at reachable heights. Hire an electrician to add outlets above nightstands or consider lamps with built-in outlets.

Replace door, faucet, and cabinet knobs with levers. In lavatories, baths and shower stalls replaced knobs with single-handle or touchless options. Change out friction pull cabinet door and drawer closers for soft-close ones.

Homeowners may need financial assistance to remodel or update a home to accommodate their special needs or elderly family member. Some grants, funded by several government agencies, might cover construction or renovation costs, labor, and other expenses. 

Most of all, inform your real estate agent about all your home needs from the outset. Your agent then can focus on homes that meet your requirements, including providing for the needs of each generation that will live there.

About the Author
Author

Gabrielle Di Bianco

 

Certified International Property Specialist

Gabrielle began her career in Real Estate in 2002. Prior to becoming a real estate agent, Gabrielle worked in the marketing/communications and manufacturing business in NYC for 18 years, having worked with both US and International clients. She is fluent in both Italian and French and is a Certified International Property Specialist. A graduate of Princeton with a degree in Sociology,   

Her experience in various business’ and education gives her a different perspective and approach to marketing a home. Each home & each client becomes their own brand so each plan is specific to the individual home or client. She is equally strong at both listing a home and working with buyers.  

Gabrielle was born and raised in New Jersey. She has traveled extensively throughout the United States and Europe. Gabrielle is married, has lived in Connecticut since 1991 and has three children, three dogs, and a ferret.