Saturday, March 3, 2018

"Does It Really Matter Whether AIP Design Considers Future Owners?"

Traditionally, when people have undertaken a remodeling project, they have involved their contractors, architects, and interior designers to come up with a project that appeals to them and their needs but also adds value to their home and will make their home more attractive to people who might want to purchase it in the future.

Sometimes, projects aren't even about specific needs but more for appearances - what will look nice or might be needed to complete a design that isn't quite where it needs to be, even if the owners aren't thrilled about doing it for themselves. They feel that this will help position their home for the real estate market when they decide to sell it in a few months to a few years.

This is a quite different approach than aging in place design. Here, we are interested in serving just the needs of the occupants of the home - plus frequent or intended guests and visitors. How well it appeals to the marketplace is secondary. It's not totally unimportant, but it may be set aside in favor of what the owners of the home need and want.

Take a three-bedroom, two-bath home that is challenging to navigate and use because of room sizes and layouts. Add to that any special needs that the clients have for using the bathroom, and they may decide that they want just one large bathroom by combining the two less-than-adequate baths they have now.

Conventional wisdom says that you don't destroy the value of home or jeopardize the character of the neighborhood by eliminating a bathroom. However, aging in place design says that whatever the clients need is what they should get. The market potential of the home at some future date is not a concern of the owners of the home. They are interested in getting more function from their home today and not just getting by so that their home might bring more money later. Frankly, that won't matter to them - their heirs possibly but not to them.

In a similar way of thinking, most people feel that a home should always have at least one bathroom - for resale value. Many master baths are being equipped to with just a shower. At least one secondary bathroom often has a bathtub, but what if it doesn't? What if the owners of the home decide that they just don't want a bathtub in their home? Have they destroyed the value of their home?

If their are no heirs or they aren't interested in the property, the owners are free to do whatever they like in terms of aging in place renovations because it only needs to serve them. The home can be torn down or drastically modified after they are finished with it because it really won't matter at that point. Whether it has one bathroom or more, or one tub or none, really is up to the owners. They don't need to consult their neighbors or anyone else to gain any type of insight on the possible market impact of their decision. They can just make it. If there are any repercussions or ramifications later, they really concerning themselves with those.

People won't being going out of their way to change their homes to something that is not practical just because they may the last owners of it. Quite the opposite is true. With our help and guidance, we can get them to identify areas of their home where they really need help and focus on that. While it's true that longer term applications really aren't the concern of the owners of the home, what is equally true is that they have needs that need to be met by any modifications that are completed. They are going to do what they - and we - feel are the best solutions for them and not be so concerned with what their modifications might do to the resale potential of the home.


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.