Design Considerations on Building ‘Last Home’

By: Cyndy Gardner, Co-Owner of Homestead Timber Frames


If you are one of the more than 40% of Americans ages 50 to 64 planning to move within the next five years (Nielsen’s Demand Institute) and you’re thinking of building a new home, then here are some design considerations before you hire your designer/builder.

This generation is becoming more aware that by being more active in their ‘retirement years’ and planning for one level living, being near good services for social integration and health care all adds up to being happy overall.  Here is a list of our favorites when we begin the design phase for a couple building their ‘final home – their dream home’.

  1. Main floor will be your living area for everything – have all doors at grade level from entering the garage to the bathroom.
  2. Remember four-foot-wide hallways, three-foot-wide interior doors, levered handles on doors, walk-in showers that are large enough for the possibility of a wheelchair down the road, higher toilets, grab bars in the shower and beside the toilets, and attention to kitchen layout for accessibility.
  3. Plan on having two areas in the home for each of you.  These might be work/craft rooms, private office for writing, working from home, etc. but you need a place of your own to create in.
  4. You might consider two master suites – a spacious one for you and the other for adult children/guests.  The second one could be located on another level or even above the garage as an apartment.
  5. Position rooms for the best use of natural light and access to the outdoors.  Remember to plan on outdoor spaces such as covered porches, sunny terraces and gardening areas, and incorporate your interior rooms for easy access.
  6. Ease of maintenance is of prime concern so care is taken with selecting window types, siding, flooring and such.
  7. Remember this is your home, where you plan on living out your life.  Change your attitude and build this home without regard to resale value. That’s what your children will need to deal with – not you.

A new custom home is more economical to build than remodeling and adding adaptive features to an existing home.  It’s much harder to fix later than it is to build for accessibility from the outset.  You can’t make hallways wider.  You have to take space from one area to adapt another.  So choosing a great designer and having thoughtful discussions about your life interests, goals and needs can go a long way.

If you would like to design your project with us, click here to get started.