Tag Archives: Universal Design

2016 Home Improvement Trends

What is hot in home improvement in 2016?

Lifestyle and energy efficiency are behind many popular home improvement and remodeling trends. Smart homes are on the rise as new technology helps homeowners monitor and control everything from access and security, to lighting, heating and cooling, and the sprinkler system. According to Imagineer Remodeling master baths that resemble spas, kitchens with spacious, open floor plans, and even customized spaces to bathe and feed our 4-legged family members, are on the rise.

Following are a few trends we see gaining popularity locally and among our customers.

Drought Tolerant Landscaping

The idea of replacing water thirsty lawns with native, drought tolerant plants, is gaining a lot of momentum in the Pacific Northwest. The challenge is to find plants that tolerate minimal water during the summer and will survive long, cold, and wet winters. Doing your homework and consulting with a local landscape company that specializes in drought tolerant gardening will help to ensure a successful transition.

Incorporating features such as a stone pathway, concrete or block stairs to access terraced levels, or a comfortable place to sit and enjoy the fruits of your labor, add interest and contrast.

Drought Tolerant Landscaping

Accessory Dwelling Units

Many modern families are returning to more traditional, multi-generational households. The concept isn’t anything new. Aging parents in need of more care often move into their children’s homes. But aging parents are not the only folks to influence the evolution of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU’s).

Baby boomers are often caught in the squeeze of economic stresses, sometimes faced with three or four generations living in the same home. In addition to senior parents, many adult children have returned to their parent’s home, often bringing younger children with them too.

Immigrants also influence the demand on housing. Multi-generational living is often favored by different cultural groups.

Depending on specific circumstances, finishing a basement or attic, or converting a garage, may provide adequate living space. Other times, adding an in-law suite may be more suitable. Ideally, the additional living space will have a private entrance, bedroom, bathroom, living area, and some type of kitchen.

Incorporating Universal Design into the improvement will ensure the home is safe, functional, and meets the needs each generation requires. It can be as simple as improved lighting and grab bars. Wider halls and doorways, roll-in showers, and lower countertops address more specific needs.

ADU’s can also be an income generating asset. As the families needs change, what might be practical today for the in-laws may later turn into a source of rental income or an attractive resale feature.

Outdoor Living Spaces

As summers seem to grow longer and warmer, bridging the inside of the home to an outdoor living space is gaining popularity.

Patios or decks fully or partially covered with a roof extension provide protection from both sun and rain showers, and take advantage of naturally cooling breezes. More elaborate designs allow year round use by converting from an open air concept to a closed room during cooler months of the year.

Energy Efficiency

There are so many ways to improve a home’s efficiency. Some require a considerable financial investment and thus take longer to reap the savings. High efficiency heating and cooling systems are gaining interest. Solar power and water heating systems can save money in energy costs and increase property value.

But even a modest investment can have a real impact on reducing your homes carbon footprint. Since the federal energy bill was passed a number of better performing lighting options have become available. More options are popping up in the holiday lighting aisle as well.

Tube skylights, or sun tubes, are relatively inexpensive to purchase and have installed. Depending on the location of the tube, the average do-it-yourself type who is comfortable working on the roof can install them on their own. A 10-inch tube can light approximately 200 square feet of floor area, or the equivalent of roughly three 100-watt bulbs. Larger tubes provide even more light.

Whole house fans can be an efficient way to cool many different types of homes. Proper installation is key and best left to a professional.

Aging In Place, Safe Solutions for Senior Homeowners

For many senior homeowners, finding a home improvement contractor they can trust can be challenging.

America’s senior population is growing and many are living longer and more active lives. As a result, there is an increasing demand for reliable resources to help seniors connect with trustworthy home service professionals. Whether it is a small job such as installing stability bars in the bathroom or more extensive modifications, senior homeowners need a resource to locate contractors they can trust and who understand their specific needs.

To help meet the increasing needs of our senior population, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the American Association of Retired People (AARP) developed the Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS) program. The program provides training for contractors to address the needs of home safety and independence for seniors. It teaches contractors Universal Design skills to make functional modifications that blend seamlessly with your current home design and décor.

Universal Design evolved from Accessible Design, which was first introduced to make public buildings and facilities more accessible for people with disabilities. Universal Design has broadened the approach by helping make personal residences more functional and user-friendly for everyone. Certified Aging in Place Specialists will work with you to assess both your current and potential future needs and help you make these important and life-enhancing modifications.

Safety is the primary reason for making home modifications for seniors. Planning ahead and making the appropriate improvements now can help prevent accidents in the future and ensure a more secure and accessible home.

Stability bars in the bathroom; improved lighting in hallways, work areas, and outdoors; and continuous handrails on each side of stairways are simple and relatively inexpensive updates. Specific needs can be met through more extensive modifications to the kitchen, bathroom, or other living spaces. Thoughtful planning and consideration can result in attractive modifications and increase resale value by appealing to a broader market.

It is never too soon to make improvements to increase your home’s safety and functionality. If you are planning a home remodel or even minor improvements, consider incorporating some well thought out modifications to help make your home safer and more functional. Some relatively minor adjustments can make a big difference for a lot of people. This may include friends or family members with disabilities, children, or even senior relatives that visit and may eventually move into the household. Many simple features will make your home more ‘visitable’ and the transition of merging households an easier process.

An alternative to modifying your existing home is to sell and purchase a home that is already more suitable for your needs. However, it is often less expensive to modify your existing home and save on real estate commissions, closing costs, moving costs, and decorating. Depending on your particular situation, a home equity loan or reverse mortgage may be an option to finance a more extensive remodel. Some long-term care or private insurance policies cover special equipment such as ramps and stability bars.

Consulting with a Certified Aging in Place Specialist is the first step in helping you determine your specific needs and the many options and related benefits available to you. We are pleased to be able to recommend professional contractors that are not only CAPS certified, but also part of our network of dependable, pre-screened home improvement professionals.

If you or a loved one are interested in consulting with a Certified Aging in Place Specialist, we can help you make that connection. We will be available for you throughout the entire process from the initial consultation appointment throughout completion of your project and beyond. To get started, simply call Cari at 425-775-9085 or submit a work request.