After Dave Mackowski earned his Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) designation, he and his wife, Peggy, co-owners of Quality Design & Construction, in Raleigh, N.C., created a checklist to alert homeowners to aging-in-place design options. “It helps clients think about how their lives might change,” Peggy says.
The form uses the term “aging-in-place,” but Peggy wishes she had a better name for this type of design. She says the checklist makes it easier to talk with baby boomers about aging in place without pointing out that they’re getting older. She says she often uses her personal experience with a ski injury, which made it difficult for her to function in her own home, as a way to raise the topic.
The Mackowskis originally created the three-page checklist (part of which is shown below) to distribute at home shows but later posted it on the company’s website so it was available to a wider audience and could reinforce the company’s CAPS expertise.
—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.
A. Lower Maintenance
Many new building materials allow homeowners to age in place without having to worry about maintenance. Quality Design & Construction recently completed a large addition on a home with traditional exterior materials. The homeowners chose fiber-cement siding and Azek PVC trim.
D. Balanced Approach
Dave Mackowski encourages clients to use shower and bath faucets that have pressure-balancing valves or anti-scald valves that maintain water temperature even if the water pressure suddenly drops.
E. What’s Cooking
Peggy says that some items in the checklist’s kitchen section are just common sense, such as having counter space near appliances. Other items, such as glass-front cabinets, which allow people to see cabinet contents, can also be used as a design or style element.
F. Go Zero-Threshold
The Mackowskis strongly suggest curbless showers for bathroom remodels. “We also make sure we put blocking behind the wall and let the client know that it’s there for future use,” Peggy says. “There are certain things you can do during a remodeling project that will make things easier if you have to later go back and change them.”
B. Admit All
Peggy says 36-inch–wide entry doors aren’t just good for aging clients, they’re also useful for parents juggling a stroller and groceries, and for access when bringing in large appliances or furniture. Some QDC clients are also using 42-inch–wide interior French doors for the opening from the master suite to the bath or to an entertainment area.
C. Harder Surfaces
Dave says that many homeowners are choosing to replace carpeting with hard surfaces such as hardwood, laminate, or tile. The expanded checklist includes a reminder for homeowners to think about barrier-free thresholds for outdoor living spaces.