How homes can be adapted for aging relatives

  • By Lori Johnston The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • Tuesday, November 6, 2012 4:35pm
  • Life

Multigenerational living is bringing families closer together, especially as parents move in with their adult children.

Sometimes the decision is focused on finances, reducing the number of mortgages and sharing the cost of living in a home. Other times, grandparents are taking of grandchildren, or adult children are caring for aging parents.

Many builders are adapting and updating homes to add space, privacy and aging-in-place features.

Here are a few of the options, when baby boomers or elderly parents move in with their kids:

Guest house transformation

A guest house, carriage house or pool house can take on a new role. Dave Radlmann, owner of Heirloom Design Build in Atlanta is building houses with carriage houses up to 700 square feet.

“On all the houses, we’re definitely thinking about accommodations for people’s in-laws or parents,” Radlmann said.

“They can fit very well in the landscape and actually be quite an accent for your yard,” he said.

Some options include prefabricated units, which some call “granny pods.” Virginia-based MedCare Systems’ senior living cottages are designed for aging or disabled individuals.

The MEDCottage, averaging 300 square feet, has a bedroom, bathroom and kitchenette. Extra features include special flooring that prevents falls, and cameras and remote monitoring systems that alert someone in the case of a medical problem.

MEDCottages cost up to $85,000 and units can run up to 700 square feet, said Chris M. Cummins, executive vice president for MedCare Systems.

For these and other structures, homeowners need to check with your county, city and neighborhood to make sure they are allowed on your property.

Home expansion

Some families desire to expand the size of the home, adding a second master bedroom or other spaces. The national average cost for a midrange master suite addition is $106,196, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2011-2012 remodeling cost vs. value report. The report also showed that a master suite addition could recoup about 60 percent of the cost. A two-story addition costs an average of $165,796 nationally, according to the Remodeling magazine report, with the possibility to recoup 62 percent of the costs.

The National Association of Home Builders says “shadow units,” which are built alongside the home or separate units that access the main floor, are a trend in multigenerational living.

Building out the basement

The national average cost for a basement remodel is $63,378, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2011-2012 remodeling cost vs. value report.

Aging in place remodels often include 3-foot-wide doorways, large enough for a hospital bed to be rolled in or our, lower sinks and recessed space underneath to accommodate a wheelchair, and curbless showers with a built-in benches, grab bars and slip-resistant tile.

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