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Aging-In-Place Design Checklists

     

Are you a builder or remodeling contractor with older adult clients? Are you a consumer seeking to modify an existing home for aging in place or build a new home to meet your needs over the long term? If so, check out our Aging-In-Place Design Checklists. They contain features you may want to consider for your next new construction or renovation project.

Exterior

  • Low-maintenance exterior (vinyl, brick)
  • Low-maintenance shrubs and plants
  • Deck, patio or balcony surfaces are no more than ½ inch below interior floor level if made of wood

Overall Floor Plan

  • Main living on a single story, including full bath
  • No steps between rooms/areas on the same level
  • 5-foot by 5-foot clear/turn space in living area, kitchen, a bedroom and a bathroom

Hallways

  • Minimum of 36 inches wide, wider preferred
  • Well lit

Entry

  • Accessible path of travel to the home
  • At least one no-step entry with a cover
  • Sensor light at exterior no-step entry focusing on the front-door lock
  • There needs to be 32 inches of clear width, which requires a 36-inch door
  • Non-slip flooring in foyer
  • Entry door sidelight or high/low peep hole viewer; sidelight should provide both privacy and safety.
  • Doorbell in accessible location
  • Surface to place packages on when opening door

Thresholds

  • Flush preferable
  • Exterior maximum of ½ inch beveled
  • Interior maximum of ¼ inch

Interior Doors

  • There needs to be 32 inches of clear width, which requires a 36-inch door
  • Levered door hardware

Windows

  • Plenty of windows for natural light
  • Lowered windows or taller windows with lower sill height
  • Low maintenance exterior and interior finishes
  • Easy to operate hardware

Garage or Carport

  • Covered carports and boarding spaces
  • Wider than average carports to accommodate lifts on vans
  • Door heights may need to be 9 feet to accommodate some raised roof vans
  • 5-foot minimum access aisle between accessible van and car in garage
  • If code requires floor to be several inches below entrance to house for fume protection, can slope entire floor from front to back to eliminate need for ramp or step
  • Ramp to doorway if needed
  • Handrail if steps

Faucets

  • Lever handles or pedal-controlled
  • Thermostatic or anti-scald controls
  • Pressure balanced faucets

Kitchen and Laundry

Counters

  • Wall support and provision for adjustable and/or varied height counters and removable base cabinets
  • Upper wall cabinetry - 3 inches lower than conventional height
  • Accented stripes on edge of countertops to provide visual orientation to the workspace
  • Counter space for dish landing adjacent to or opposite all appliances
  • Base cabinet with roll out trays and lazy susans
  • Pull-down shelving
  • Glass-front cabinet doors
  • Open shelving for easy access to frequently used items

Appliances

  • Easy to read controls
  • Washing machine and dryer raised 12 to 15 inches above floor
  • Front loading laundry machines
  • Microwave oven at counter height or in wall
  • Side-by-side refrigerator/freezer
  • Side-swing or wall oven
  • Raised dishwasher with pushbutton controls
  • Electric cook top with level burners for safety in transferring between the burners, front controls and downdraft feature to pull heat away from user; light to indicate when surface is hot

Miscellaneous

  • 30-inch by 48-inch clear space at appliances or 60-inch diameter clear space for turns
  • Multi-level work areas to accommodate cooks of different heights
  • Open under-counter seated work areas
  • Placement of task lighting in appropriate work areas
  • Loop handles for easy grip and pull
  • Pull-out spray faucet; levered handles
  • In multi-story homes, laundry chute or laundry facilities in master bedroom

Bathroom

  • Wall support and provision for adjustable and/or varied height counters and removable base cabinets
  • Contrasting color edge border at countertops
  • At least one wheelchair maneuverable bath on main level with 60-inch turning radius or acceptable T-turn space and 36-inch by 36-inch or 30-inch by 48-inch clear space
  • Bracing in walls around tub, shower, shower seat and toilet for installation of grab bars to support 250 - 300 pounds
  • If stand-up shower is used in main bath, it is curbless and minimum of 36 inches wide
  • Bathtub - lower for easier access
  • Fold down seat in the shower
  • Adjustable/ handheld showerheads, 6-foot hose
  • Tub/Shower controls offset from center
  • Shower stall with built-in antibacterial protection
  • Light in shower stall
  • Toilet 2 ½ inches higher than standard toilet (17 to 19 inches) or height-adjustable
  • Design of the toilet paper holder allows rolls to be changed with one hand
  • Wall-hung sink with knee space and panel to protect user from pipes
  • Slip-resistant flooring in bathroom and shower

Stairways, Lifts and Elevators

  • Adequate hand rails on both sides of stairway, 1 ¼-inch diameter
  • Increased visibility of stairs through contrast strip on top and bottom stairs, color contrast between treads and risers on stairs and use of lighting
  • Multi-story homes may provide either pre-framed shaft (ie. stacked closets) for future elevator, or stairway width must be minimum of 4 feet to allow space for lift
  • Residential elevator or lift

Ramps

  • Slope no greater than 1 inch rise for each 12 inches in length, adequate handrails
  • 5-foot landing provided at entrance
  • 2-inch curbs for safety

Storage

  • Adjustable closet rods and shelves
  • Lighting in closets
  • Easy open doors that do not obstruct access

Electrical, Lighting, Safety and Security

  • Light switches by each entrance to halls and rooms
  • Light receptacles with at least 2 bulbs in vital places (exits, bathroom)
  • Light switches, thermostats and other environmental controls placed in accessible locations no higher than 48 inches from floor
  • Electrical outlets 15 inches on center from floor; may need to be closer than 12 feet apart
  • Clear access space of 30 inches by 48 inches in front of switches and controls
  • Rocker or touch light switches
  • Audible and visual strobe light system to indicate when the doorbell, telephone or smoke or CO2 detectors have been activated
  • High-tech security/intercom system that can be monitored, with the heating, air conditioning and lighting, from any TV in the house
  • Easy-to-see and read thermostats
  • Pre-programmed thermostats
  • Flashing porch light or 911 switch
  • Direct wired to police, fire, and EMS (as option)
  • Home wired for security
  • Home wired for computers

Flooring

  • Smooth, non-glare, slip-resistant surfaces, interior and exterior
  • If carpeted, use low (less than ½ inch high pile) density, with firm pad
  • Color/texture contrast to indicate change in surface levels

Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning

  • HVAC should be designed so filters are easily accessible
  • Energy efficient units
  • Windows that can be opened for cross ventilation, fresh air

Energy Efficient Features

  • In-line framing with 2 by 6 studs spaced 24-inch on center
  • Air-barrier installation and sealing of duct work with mastic
  • Reduced-size air conditioning units with gas furnaces
  • Mechanical fresh air ventilation, installation of air returns in all bedrooms and use of carbon monoxide detectors
  • Installation of energy efficient windows with Low-E glass

Reduced Maintenance/Convenience Features

  • Easy to clean surfaces
  • Central vacuum
  • Built-in pet feeding system
  • Built-in recycling system
  • Video phones
  • Intercom system

Other Ideas

  • Separate apartment for rental income or future caregiver
  • Flex room that can used as a nursery or playroom when the children are young and as a home office later; if combined with a full bath, room could also be used for an aging parent/aging in place