Archive for the 'Retirement' Category

March 21st, 2013
By Deb Villeneuve

Plan 3507-V2 offers a more comfortable first level by increasing its depth by two feet. The progressive design offers a floor plan that can grow as your needs change because the living space upstairs can accommodate bedrooms or be left unfinished according to the owner’s needs.
Following the example of plan 3507, this plan offers the open living area complete with generous fenestration in front and a comfortable bedroom with a 10′ x 2′ closet. Private access to the bathroom, with its laundry area, and a 5′ x 2′ closet at the service entrance along with a second access to the bathroom permit the owners to enjoy all of the conveniences on the same floor.
The progressive approach of this home permits initial construction on a budget as the staircase accesses the second floor through an insulated door. The second floor can accommodate the addition of extra bedrooms bathroom if required at a later date


March 1st, 2011
By Vivian Martin

People who inhabit and visit the houses we live in come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from infants to seniors, with various ever-changing abilities and skills. As we grow up, grow old and welcome new people to our homes, our housing needs change. A house or dwelling that is designed and constructed to reflect the principles of universal design will be safer and more accommodating to the diverse range of ages and abilities of people who live in and visit these homes.

When Should You Consider Using a Ramp?

A ramp can be used to overcome changes in level, either on the inside or outside of a home, as an alternative to using stairs.

A ramp is ideal for people who are having difficulty negotiating stairs for various reasons, be it the need to carry heavy objects between levels, move a child in a stroller, or because of a disabling condition. Providing both stairs and a ramp at changes in level will allow people to choose the option that best suits their needs, resulting in a flexible and more universally accessible design.

Ramps are particularly useful for overcoming changes in level up to about 760 mm (30 in.), from the ground level to the level of an entrance for example. Using ramps for greater changes in level requires a great deal of space — which may or may not be practical. If you are faced with a big change in level, installing a lift or residential elevator may be a better strategy than constructing a ramp (see Accessible Housing by Design — Lifts and Residential Elevators). The physical and monetary costs associated with both options should be fully explored when deciding which option will accommodate the greatest number of users.

Ramp Design Strategies

There are typically two strategies used for ramp design: a landscape approach and a structural approach.

Landscape Approach

This approach incorporates landscaping, gently sloping walkways and grading to overcome changes in level (see Figure 2). A safe path with a gentle slope can be built without railings (unless there are abrupt drop-offs on either side, or users need them), resulting in an integrated, low-key design that does not look like a traditional ramp.

The landscape approach is generally limited to smaller changes in level.

Structural Approach

The structural approach involves building a ramp structure — usually using wood-framing construction (see Figures 3 and 4). This results in a more noticeable structure, although its visual impact can be minimized through creative design, landscaping and finishes.

The most common ramp configurations are:

  • Straight
  • Switch-back 
  • U-shaped 
  • L-shaped 

Angled ramps may also be used, but remember that the start and finish of the ramp must incorporate a straight approach. Curved ramps are not recommended as they make steering a wheelchair, walker or scooter very difficult. In some cases, depending on the length of the ramp, landings may be required as resting points.

Read the full CMHC fact sheet on ramps for design considerations and construction options for adding a ramp to your existing property or new home. 

(Source: CMHC – About Your House – General Series)

October 26th, 2010
By Vivian Martin

By Tessa Holloway, North Shore News October 24, 2010

Peter Simpson had never thought too much about where the plugs in his house were located until he had a hernia operation.

“Just a simple thing like bending over to plug in my battery charger in my cell phone, I had to take my time doing it,” said Simpson. “If that power receptacle had only been about six inches or so higher, it wouldn’t have been nearly as challenging.”

For Simpson, president and CEO of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association, it was a perfect example of why his organization is pushing to educate homebuilders on how to build houses where seniors can age in place.

For Simpson the problem was temporary, but for many others, the location of electrical outlets can mean the difference between independence and relying on others.

“The only reason they’re at the height they are today is it’s the height of a hammer. It was easy for them just to get their hammer there and draw a line,” said Simpson. “Old habits die hard, I guess.”

Seniors’ accessibility is also a concern being raised more and more by customers, said John Friswell, owner of the North Vancouver-based CCI Renovations.

“A lot of (homeowners) have had homes for a long time and they’re now looking at their house and saying ‘Wow, I’ve got a two-storey house that’s 5,000 square feet, how am I going to stay here?’”

Friswell took a four-day Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) course provided by the home builders’ association a few years ago so he could advise clients, and said he incorporates many of the ideas into every house he renovates.

That includes making sure wood backing is installed behind shower walls so grab-bars can be screwed in later, as well as lowering the height of light switches. He also can install contrasting materials so visually impaired have an easier time navigating or wider doors and larger bathrooms for easier wheelchair access, among other changes.

He also said they try to install houses with deep closets directly above one another in case homeowners decide to install a residential elevator when they’re unable to use the stairs.

Simpson said some seniors are also finding they want to live closer to family, which has prompted several North Shore municipalities to investigate the idea of laneway homes in back yards, so seniors could live with family while maintaining their independence.

“I think more municipalities should jump on board with that, but of course we’ve got some resistance to that,” said Simpson. “I know my parents, if I could have had a coach house in my back yard where my parents could live, they might have considered living there, but they sure as heck weren’t going to give up their house for a nursing home.”

Michael Geller, who is the principal developer on a project in West Vancouver that involves laneway houses – what he also calls “granny flats” – said they also allow for much smaller homes that are just one-storey, and thus have no stairs.

“To my mind the ideal solution is usually a single level unit, which can be at grade with a private outdoor space, which is separate from the main space of the principal dwelling,” said Geller, who is also president of a company that builds laneway homes and has advocated for them since 1974.

Still, he said they’re often too expensive for many seniors, which is a major stumbling block for some.

© Copyright (c) North Shore News

Read more:

October 2nd, 2010
By Vivian Martin - Plan # 2187-V2 - Plan # 2187-V2

Four graceful columns elegantly frame the front windows and door of this engaging bungalow. Neighbors will be asking for a tour as soon as you move in!

Of course, visitors are in for a treat. An open concept keeps everyone involved whether they are lounging in the living room or whipping up tasty treats in the open kitchen, or enjoying the brightly windowed dining area. Don’t let the small size fool you, this little bungalow lives large!

For more details on this plan, click here…

Looking for other one-storey home options? Check our Bungalow and One-Level House Plan Collection or Create  a “New House Plans – Latest Trends” Alert to receive all of the latest designs direct to you by email.

August 2nd, 2010
By Vivian Martin

Our demographics are changing. According to Health Canada, at the start of this new century, Canada faces significant aging of its population as the proportion of seniors increases more rapidly than all other age groups. In 2001, one Canadian in eight was 65 years or over. By 2026, one Canadian in five will have reached age 65.

With this aging demographic we can foresee some challenges in housing. While we as Canadians can boast an active lifestyle and excellent healthcare, the reality is that some homes become less and less user-friendly with advancing age or disability.

We attended a CHBA meeting where the guest speaker presented on behalf of Access Nanaimo. The speaker was a young lady attending a local University. Although young and vivacious, she was also confined to a wheelchair due to muscular dystrophy.  She spoke of some of her trials and tribulations in visiting friends in their homes. She also addressed the aging population and how some simple design and construction considerations could make homes more “visitable”.

This week, we will post a series of blog entries on topics of Universal Access in the residential setting. This may also be referred to as residential design that allows for “aging in place“.

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has a wealth of information on this topic which is available online or as downloads.

According to the CMHC, Universal design is defined as:

“The design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.”

The concept is an evolving design philosophy.

Principle 1: Equitable Use

This principle focuses on providing equitable access for everyone in an integrated and dignified manner. It implies that the design is appealing to everyone and provides an equal level of safety for all users.

Principle 2: Flexibility in Use

This principle implies that the design of the house or product has been developed considering a wide range of individual preferences and abilities throughout the life cycle of the occupants.

Principle 3: Simple and Intuitive

The layout and design of the home and devices should be easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience or cognitive ability. This principle requires that design elements be simple and work intuitively.

Principle 4: Perceptible Information

The provision of information using a combination of different modes, whether using visual, audible or tactile methods, will ensure that everyone is able to use the elements of the home safely and effectively. Principle 4 encourages the provision of information through all of our senses — sight, hearing and touch — when interacting with our home environment.

Principle 5: Tolerance for Error

This principle incorporates a tolerance for error, minimizing the potential for unintended results. This implies design considerations that include fail‑safe features and gives thought to how all users may use the space or product safely.

Principle 6: Low Physical Effort

This principle deals with limiting the strength, stamina and dexterity required to access spaces or use controls and products.

Principle 7: Size and Space for Approach and Use

This principle focuses on the amount of room needed to access space, equipment and controls. This includes designing for the appropriate size and space so that all family members and visitors can safely reach, see and operate all elements of the home.

Stay tuned all this week for further blog posts on this topic.

July 31st, 2010
By Vivian Martin
Drawers are more accessible than overhead cabinets for storing dinnerware.

The new catch phrase among homeowners is “aging in place.”

Instead of selling their homes and moving into retirement villages or assisted-living quarters, a growing number of older Americans are modifying their homes to make them more user-friendly as they age.

The concept has caught on so successfully, it even has its own National Aging in Place Week, which falls on Oct. 11-16 this year.

“Aging in place is a near and dear subject,” said Karen Kassik, president of Home Accessibilities, a residential design firm that focuses on building barrier-free homes…

…The baby boomers now reaching retirement age tend to be healthier and more independent than previous generations, and are not ready to give up home ownership when they retire. The weak economy means fewer Americans can afford the move into retirement facilities — even if they manage to sell their homes in this depressed market. And among some fast-growing ethnic groups, including Hispanic and Asian, it is traditional for older family members to share living quarters with the younger generations.

Read the full article here…

July 7th, 2010
By Vivian Martin

A growing number of healthy, active couples nearing retirement are making smart plans for their future—and they have the blueprints to prove it.

Savvy seniors and aging baby boomers are remodeling the baths in their current homes with the goal of “aging in place” well into their advanced years.

“Active older adults are beginning to decide to stay in their homes for the long term,” says Susan Duncan, RN, principal of ADAptations, Inc., in Seattle. “They’re looking ahead, and planting the seeds, to figure out how to stay at home.”

The last thing health-conscious baby boomers want, however, are bathrooms that suggest old age or anything remotely institutional. Fortunately for them, it’s possible to add features that can help them stay comfortable in the future but that don’t detract from—and in many cases enhance—their bathroom’s beauty and elegance.

According to a recent survey by the American Association of Retired Persons, 74 percent of adults over the age of 50 want to remain in their homes for the rest of their lives. Here are some ideas that can help ensure they do so in style.

For more, read the full article…

Source: Kohler Kitchen and Bath Fixtures and Faucets


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