Remodeling Your Aging Parent’s Home for Safety and Comfort

Elderly parents are staying in their homes longer than ever before, which is creating new challenges for adult children who want to keep their parents safe and comfortable. If your parents want to stay in their home, it may be time for renovations to make sure they live comfortably. Below are tips for remodeling your aging parent’s home for safety and comfort.

Aging in place is becoming more popular

Aging in place is when a person lives and ages in their residence of choice, for as long as they can. It means a person being able to live in the place of their choice without losing their quality of life when they reach senior age. But ideally what aging in place should be addressing is not just to maintain the quality of life that the person is used to, but also to make it better whenever possible.

Remodeling bathrooms for older parents

One of the most common areas in a home where elderly parents fall is in the bathroom. With slick surfaces and sometimes tight spaces, it can be hazardous unless upgrades are made for safety and comfort. Here are a few ways to remodel a bathroom to make it more age-appropriate for elderly folks:

Shower seats

If your parents prefer taking a shower over using a bathtub, shower seats are a great way to safely shower.

Shower grab bars

Grab bars a fantastic way to provide stability in a shower.

Low or no shower curb

Nowadays, there are many low and no-curb showers to choose from. Ask a remodeling professional for recommendations.

Non-slip bathtubs

Non-slip bathtubs come in a variety of styles and help elderly people safely get in and out of a bathtub without the risk of slipping

Bathtub grab bar

Many people don’t know that grab bars are available for bathtubs too, but they’re a smart addition for any home looking to increase safety for aging parents.

Walk-in tubs

These tubs have been around for years and are getting more and more stylish. As a bathroom renovation professional about options.

Creating a safer kitchen for the elderly

For self-sufficient parents, cooking doesn’t go away with age, but safety becomes an even bigger concern for elderly cooks. Care.com put together a great list of ways to remodeling a kitchen for elderly parents:

  • Install a pull-out pantry
  • Round the edges
  • Keep the sink close to the stove
  • Opt for a shallow sink
  • Place the microwave at or below counter height
  • Choose standard counter-depth appliances and cabinets without any frills
  • Make corners accessible
  • Pick drawers, not doors for easier access
  • Focus on clearance space
  • Ensure that floors are slip-resistant

Other useful ideas for remodeling homes for aging parents

While the kitchen and bathroom are the two more challenging rooms for elderly parents, here are a few ideas for other rooms in the house, depending on their level of mobility:

  • Widen doorways to accommodate wheelchairs or walkers
  • Install lever-style door knobs that are easier to grip for arthritic hands
  • Replace flooring with slip-resistant material
  • Add a wheelchair ramp
  • Adjust kitchen countertops heights
  • Install a chair lift or elevator

Most expenses for home renovations will need to be paid out of pocket. However, Medicare or private insurance may cover the cost of medical equipment that’s installed in a home, but they generally don’t pay for home remodel projects. Do your homework to see what renovation costs may be covered. The answer is always “no” if you don’t ask! Some seniors may qualify for a limited number of home improvement grants, based on their income and where they live. The Department of Health and Human Services’ ElderCare.gov website has more details.

Staying at home as long as possible is usually the desire of most aging parents. To make sure they’re both safe and comfortable, try these ideas for remodeling your aging parent’s home.

6 Ways to Protect Your Home During Renovation

Remodeling your home to suit your lifestyle can be exciting when it’s all said and done. Living through a remodel can be a bit more challenging, especially if you’re living in the house while the remodeling is being done. Depending on what you’re having done, there are a lot of moving pieces which can cause quite a mess during the project. Here are 6 ways to protect your home during renovation to ease the process for you on the way to the home of your dreams.

Protect corners and handrails

Even with the most careful renovation specialists, when you have workers in and out of your house, up and down the stairs, moving equipment from room to room, removing debris, and working with tool belts, your corners and handrails are going to take a beating. While it’s easy enough to fix this dings, dents and scratches, you can keep them to a minimum with a little prep work. Corners in high traffic areas can be protected with cardboard. Handrails on stairs can be bubble wrapped or protected with a material heavy enough to protect rails against scrapes and dents.

Cover your blinds, shutters and window treatments

If your renovation includes any kind of demolition, there is going to be dust. A LOT of dust. No matter how careful your workers are, that dust is going to go everywhere, and one of the hardest places to clean dust off is your window treatments. Here’s what you can do to protect your home during renovation:  Take a piece of plastic wrap that you can find at any home improvement store, and literally tape the plastic wrap over your window during demo. Be sure to use painter’s tape so you don’t take off the paint when you take off the tape! Most window openings that will be exposed to dust should be entirely covered with plastic, but for windows you need to open, cover the window treatments in plastic instead of removing them.

Cover your furniture and any countertops in plastic

You might be doing renovations in another room entirely, but dust travels. Unless you want to spend the next month after your project is complete dusting your tables and countertops, as well as vacuuming all your furniture, you should cover all of it in a loose plastic. It may not be very attractive during renovation, but you’ll save yourself a lot of clean up time afterwards by doing this before renovation starts.

Turn off the A/C or cover your vents

Dust travels fast through air vents to if you can cover them, it’s a great way to keep dust to a minimum. If possible, turn you’re A/C off altogether to keep dust from traveling from room to room.

Cover your traffic areas to avoid damage

If you have workers going up and down your stairs, regardless of whether your stairs are wood or carpeted, it’s a very good idea to cover the stairs to keep staining and damage at bay. Be sure to pick up a paper that is appropriate for walking on and doesn’t create a trip or slip hazard. For those high traffic areas in the house, put down a similar cover, as well as the main pathway in and out of the house.

Beyond the dust:  protecting from damage and theft

You may be forced to temporarily relocate during large-scale home renovation or construction projects. When the construction crew leaves each day, your home and belongings are left unsupervised and may be at risk of theft. In-home cameras can be a good way to keep an eye on things and of course, always ensure the home alarm system is set when workers leave. Construction projects often involve new electrical wiring and highly combustible materials throughout the house that can lead to a devastating fire. Keep working fire extinguishers on each level of the house and throughout the work site. Consider installing a sprinkler system and a UL-listed (Underwriters Laboratories) water flow alarm if you don’t already have one.

These are just a few ideas to protect your home during renovation to make sure your experience during the project is a good one!

Home Remodeling Ideas for Pet Owners

Remodeling your existing home can be an exciting opportunity to add those features you always wanted in your home. The usual checklist usually includes updated lighting, new appliances, better cabinetry, etc. but what about upgrades to accommodate your pets?  Believe it or not, features that cater to family pets is high on the list for many homeowners looking to improve the living condition for ALL family members. If you’re interested in making your house a home for your fur baby, check out these home remodeling ideas for pet owners and discuss how to incorporate these designs with your home remodeling professional.

Custom feeding areas

You can create a built-in area for pet bowls to keep your kitchen looking neat and tidy. This option prevents you from tripping over bowls and spilling food everywhere. You can also install a faucet near the ground in that area to make it easy to refill water bowls. Many homeowners feed their pets in their kitchen or laundry room, so this is a great way to add convenience and make the area neat and tidy!

Pet food storage areas

If you keep your bags of pet food in a closet or out in the garage, you’re going to love this idea! If you’re installing new kitchen cabinets, think about putting a deep drawer near the pet bowls to use for pet food storage. It’s easy to access the food when you need it without lugging bags of food back and forth. You also gain back that closet or shelf space that you were using to store those bags. Win win!

Bathing and grooming areas

If you bathe your own pet, you know what a big pain it can be!  If you bathe them outside with a garden hose, your back will remind you of your good deed the next day….and maybe the day after that! Bathe your fur baby inside but hate trying to get them in and out of the bathtub? Replace your old tub/shower combo with a walk-in shower to make it easier to get a larger dog in and out. You may also consider an open-concept shower without any door at all to give you plenty of room to wash your dog. You can even install a handheld showerhead closer to the ground which makes bathing your dog easier when you need to rinse muddy paws.

Pet gates

Lots of pet owners use baby gates to keep their dogs out of places they’re not supposed to be. Functional, but not the most appealing décor addition! Try installing a swinging gate or half door. These can keep pets out of the kitchen when you’re cooking without making you feel shut off from the rest of the house.

Cat features

Are cats more your thing?  Or perhaps you have both cats and dogs. Either way, cats provide a few extra challenges that remodeling upgrades can help. Again, a nearby storage bin for kitty litter is great, and keeps dust to a minimum. For many pet owners, the litter box is a challenge since you want it out of site. Whether you keep your litter box in the laundry room, mud room, or bathroom, here’s a great idea:  If you’re replacing your cabinets, you can leave a nook to slide the box in. The other challenge with cats?  They like to climb to high places so they can see things. Consider installing a series of cat perch floating wall mount shelves dedicated to your adventurous cat, or an accommodating window ledge where they can enjoy the sun without being bothered.

No matter what kind of pet you own, these home remodeling ideas for pet owners will make your four-legged family member happy!

Everything You Need to Consider Before Building a Mother-in-Law Suite

As our population continues to live longer and seniors are looking to be independent as long as possible, more and more families are looking to the idea of building a mother-in-law suite so that their aging parent or parents can live independently yet be close at hand to family should any issues arise. To add an addition like this, there’s actually a few things to think about first to plan for the renovation. Here is everything you need to consider before building a mother-in-law suite.

What is a mother-in-law suite?

A mother-in-law suite is another way to describe guest quarters in a home. It can be as simple as a bedroom and private bath that has a door giving the suite privacy from the rest of the home, or it could be more elaborate like a small guest house with a kitchenette on the property. Some are additions to an existing home while others are detached suites with a shared courtyard or breezeway. Of course, these “mother-in-law” suites can be used for parents, grandparents, in-laws or anyone who you’re looking to create a dedicated space for. Some people create them in anticipation of someone living with them full-time while others are created out of need when a house becomes too full and more space is needed.

Multi-generational living is on the rise

More and more Americans are keeping it all in the family these days, as multi-generational living—where three or more generations share the same household continues to rise, according to Realtor.com. The number of multi-generational households is growing in the U.S. The Census Bureau says they were up 30 percent between 2000 and 2010, making nearly one in six households a multi-generational household. In 2014, a record 60.6 million people, or 19% of the U.S. population, lived with multiple generations under one roof, according to a recent analysis of Census data by the Pew Research Center. That number continues to grow as we move into 2019.

There are several options to create more space

As you ponder your options to create an in-law suite, here are a few potential areas of your home you could consider renovating to meet your needs:

  1. Convert a garage
  2. Convert a basement
  3. Convert an attic
  4. Convert a sunroom or exterior patio area
  5. Convert a dining room or other unused/underused room

Depending on how large these existing spaces are (or if you even have any of these!) they may serve as an option for converting into a mother-in-law suite in lieu of a new build and may save some money versus creating a new structure altogether, attached or free-standing. If you’re building the space for someone in particular in mind, it might be a good idea to converse with them to see what they need and want, including:

  1. A dedicated kitchen or kitchenette
  2. A dedicated bathroom
  3. A separate entrance
  4. A separate alarm system

Not all existing spaces can accommodate these needs, so it might be a good idea to have that conversation first to avoid issues in the future.

Check with your city zoning laws to find out what is allowable

Many municipalities zone neighborhoods as single-family residential, thereby making additional units illegal unless they are occupied by a member of the family. City planners often discourage the entire concept, as they know that once the apartment is created, it will often evolve into a general rental unit after the original occupant/family member has moved on.

A newer zoning concept is the “accessible dwelling unit,” which encourages increasing the density of certain neighborhoods. This type of zoning allows the creation of a secondary residence even within an area zoned for single-family residences. Neighborhood eligibility is determined by several mitigating factors such as proximity to public transportation.

Consider the financial aspect of adding a mother-in-law suite

Mother-in-law suites present some financial challenges. Because many cities don’t have a lot for comparison (“comps”), it can be harder to get financing for their construction. Be prepared to jump through extra hoops potentially to get the cash for the project. Depending on the scope of the work you plan to do and where you live, in-law suite additions or renovations typically cost anywhere from $10,000 for a converted space to $300,000 or more.

Planning and building a suite are best left to the professionals

Between determining if you can renovate an existing space or have to create a new one, understanding what accommodations you can include in the design, understanding city ordinances and so much more, these renovations are definitely best left to professional renovation specialists who know how to size up an existing living situation, take into account the “must haves” versus the “nice to haves”, design the space from a structural standpoint, and then provide the finishing touches through professional design services. Find a reputable one near you who can work with you to make your vision a reality.

Mother-in-law suites can be a great addition if done correctly. Be sure that you take into consideration all the above before building a mother-in-law suite.

What You Need to Know About Home Remodeling and Permits

Nothing is more exciting than when you’re doing a major remodeling project on your home. Whether it’s a kitchen, bath, bedroom or all the above, it’s thrilling to anticipate how your home will have fresh, new, updated look when the remodeling is done. Except for a few very brave homeowners, most people who are having their home remodeled will likely work with a licensed contractor, who should know what is required regarding pulling permits and city approvals. However, it might be a good idea to brush up on the basics yourself, just to be safe. Here’s what you need to know about home remodeling and permits.

What is a building permit?

Building permits are written authorizations issued by a city or county to construct a project. They are required for most construction or remodeling projects, to ensure the safety of the work and its compliance with building, construction, and zoning codes.

When do you need a permit for a remodeling project?

Seems like a simple question, but there are no easy answers!  There are some projects that almost always need a permit, while others may, and still others do not. An article by The Spruce does a great job listing what may or may not need a permit, but here’s a partial list from that article:

You need a permit if you’re:

  • Building an addition
  • Moving or removing a load-bearing wall
  • Any kind of major demolition
  • Garage conversion

You may need a permit if you’re:

  • Moving a sink
  • Removing or moving a non-load bearing wall
  • Replacing doors or window

You probably don’t need a permit if you’re:

  • Putting in flooring
  • Replacing an existing sink
  • Doing minor electrical work

How can you find out if any portion of your remodeling project needs a permit?

Not all construction requires a building permit. Whether your remodeling project needs a permit depends on what is required by your local building code. Each municipality is governed by its own building code, which has its own permitting requirements. Your contractor should know which items require a permit and which don’t but to be safe, it’s best to contact your city building and permit office. Most have information online that you may review. It wouldn’t hurt to share that information with your contractor as well so you’re both on the same page about remodeling and permits.

Should contractors get building permits?

The short answer is that it’s up to you. If you hired a contractor for your project, they’re usually responsible to obtain or “pull” the permit. Keep in mind that the person who pulls the permit is responsible for construction following code, so the responsibility is on them. If you pull the permit, you are typically liable if there is a construction problem. Most opt to have their contractor deal with permits for a few reasons:

  • Contractors know what does or doesn’t require a permit
  • Contractors are familiar with the process and the city’s inspectors
  • The contractor’s preexisting relationship with the city may work to your benefit to not running into issues

How do I pull a permit myself?

If you feel it’d be in your best interest to get a building permit on your own, here are the basic steps though again, each city is different so do your due diligence to make sure you check all the boxes:

  • Complete a permit application
  • Create a site plan for what you’ll be doing during the remodeling
  • Obtain an appointment for the plan approval

Don’t forget that you can’t start any construction until you have received your approval!

How long does it take to get a building permit?

This varies by city and of course, it also depends on whether the application process was done correctly the first time. It’s not uncommon to have to revise the application or site plan before it’s approved. A plan review can take up to two weeks for residential construction. Review times vary, depending on the complexity of the project and the level of information you submit with your application. You want to plan and build that time into your overall remodeling timeline.

The process can be overwhelming, and many people are concerned that their contractor may not follow the process correctly. For kitchen or bath remodeling projects, finding a company that offers comprehensive design services can help manage the process. These companies can guide you through the complexities of kitchen and bath design, overseeing your project from concept to completion.

However, you choose to proceed, it’s a good idea to know about home remodeling and permits to help your project go smoothly.

Remodeling and Renovation Mistakes to Avoid When You Buy a House

It’s so exciting when you buy a new house!  Whether it’s your very first home or not, the anticipation of new, even it’s an older home that’s new to you, brings visions of remodeling nirvana. Knock out this wall…move that stove…. maybe a bay window perhaps?  As they say nowadays: “Slow your roll!”.  While you want to make your new house the home you want to live in, there are a few remodeling and renovation mistakes to avoid when you buy a house. Read on to learn more.

You didn’t create a budget

Remodeling is the adult version of a kid in a candy store. Sure, you may start by thinking you’ll just change up a few things in the kitchen, but it’s a slippery slope of “I want” that can only be controlled by having a budget. Creating a budget will help create a solid plan so you have a very good idea what is involved in the remodel, and what it will cost; a good way to avoid “scope creep” where services change and shift, and costs usually rise as a result. If you create a budget then run across a MUST have or a “oh no, I didn’t plan for that” moment, you have the opportunity to look at your budget and perhaps reallocate expenditures versus simply increasing costs.

You didn’t work with a design professional

Unless you’re a design professional yourself, it’s a very good idea to hire one to help with renovating a new house. Why work with a design professional? They can save you time and money. They can help project manage a large remodeling project. They can present you with style options you may not have considered. They can often get you materials, accessories and furniture at their industry cost. They will make your life easier by making sure all aspects of the renovation are done correctly the first time. It’s a no-brainer to hire a professional for any remodeling you do. Its budget line item must!

You never lived in the house before you started renovations

We get it. It’s so much easier to do major renovations before you move into a house. No muss, no fuss, no mess. But hear us out. If you’re doing major remodeling, let’s say a kitchen, how can you truly determine what’s going to work if you’ve never cooked in the kitchen? You want your kitchen to be beautiful and functional. First, what kind of kitchen do you want?  An eat-in kitchen?  One built for entertaining? The ability to accommodate your mad baking skills?  Consider how you currently use your kitchen and what would make your life easier and more functional. Maybe it’s adding or expanding an island. Perhaps it’s additional storage or the absolute must-have double oven. Where should these items be and what’s the overall flow of the kitchen area to best suit that? And what about storage?  Unless you’re completely tearing down the kitchen and recreating the form, function, flow and footprint from scratch, perhaps a short test drive around the kitchen will help you remodel more effectively.

Not sticking with the plan

A design professional is going to help you not only create a budget, but they’ll create a functional plan overall and avoid renovation mistakes. Sure, there will be surprises along the way, but overall, you need to stick to a plan. Not doing so is not only costly but can sometimes results in a mismatched design that doesn’t flow. A patchwork of add-ons can really undermine the style of a remodel overall. Make a plan, stick to the plan.

Other new home buyer mistakes

Here are a few more mistakes that new home buyers make when they remodel or renovate their new home:

  • Not creating a timeline
  • Not checking references of workers and designers doing the remodel
  • Not understanding measurements and scale (if you have a design professional, you’re covered here)
  • Splurging unnecessarily
  • Going cheap on foundational items like appliances

Buying a new home is thrilling! Make sure your bliss remains after all the dust settles by working with an interior designer to make the process easier and avoid renovation mistakes. Enjoy our new home!