Living in Place Institute Invites Builder Collaborations
May 13, 2023
The Living In Place Institute, now at work on an Idea Home in Colorado, is reaching out to builders nationally, inviting them to offer Certified Model Show Homes that are ready for the millions of homebuyers who will want or need better safety and accessibility features in years to come.
“Homebuilders have always been engines of change in American society,” said internationally known new-home marketing consultant S. Robert August, who is directing the marketing effort for the Idea Home.
“Builders drove the revolution in home technology that preceded the widespread adoption of energy efficiency during the 1980s and 1990s, and of smart home technologies, residential solar systems, and health and wellness taking place today,” said August. “This conversion to Living In Place technology is the next big step for new home construction and is likely to be even more successful, owing to the pent-up demand among consumers for these features and for their overwhelming preference to live in place as they get older.”
“The add-on costs of doing these homes that can be marketed as Living In Place Certified Homes can be minor and incremental,” said Louie Delaware, founder and president of the Living In Place Institute.
“The biggest and most important change to accommodate the vast numbers of customers needing Living In Place features is to build the outside entryways with zero steps,” Delaware added. “Hundreds of thousands of new homes are being marketed to the 50+ market without any real accommodation for people that have even modest challenges in walking and climbing. And younger families dealing with cognitive disabilities and other challenges face the same needs.”
Often these obstacles are in the garage, where even new ranch-style single level homes confront their owners with a half dozen steps while carrying groceries in from the car to the kitchen, Delaware noted.
When visitors tour the nation’s first Living In Place Institute Idea Home next winter, they’ll see a plan with no steps either from the front or rear entry doors, nor from the garage to the main area. They’ll also see a space set aside that can be retrofitted for an elevator to the bedroom level if the owner needs that.
The halls and bathrooms of the Idea Home are more than wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and will have a host of items designed to provide better ergonomics and comfort for residents in the kitchen, baths and other areas.
“The Idea Home will show many options, but a builder need not feature each and every one of those to be certified for Living In Place,” said August. “With zero-steps and a few other requirements, builders can choose from a variety of other features – some of them very low cost – which will allow certification and comfort.”
“From the buyer’s perspective, the added costs can be modest in comparison to those for moving a family member into institutional settings designed to accommodate these everyday needs,” said Delaware.
“Ideally, we’d love to see every builder in the world offering all of these features for all homes. However, if a builder can at least show minimum requirements in a model home and offer those to customers up front as an option, we’ll have accomplished a great deal in improving the future for everyone,” Delaware added.
Among those additional features are kitchens better designed accessible from wheelchairs or walkers; new kitchen and bath cabinet designs that have pullout shelving; lighting products that provide better visibility for sight-impaired owners; baths and showers designed for easier access and better safety; and a host of safety options that make life easier for family members with cognitive challenges.
“Our experience in marketing innovations from promotional homes is that some homebuyers will opt for features and upgrades, but all buyers will be attracted to see and experience them,” said August. “And the builder that shows those ideas gains a significant advantage over competitors that don’t offer them.”
The Living In Place Institute Idea Home is under construction in Louisville, Colo., where Louie Delaware and his family were among more than a thousand families left homeless after a wildfire roared through the community in late 2021. After the home is used for workshops and tours, the Delawares will reoccupy it.
The Living in Place Institute promotes accessible, healthy, safe homes designed to meet people’s needs as they age or confront other challenges in life. In addition to endorsing the idea of Living In Place, the Institute trains housing and building professionals to create the capability of Living In Place as they design and build the next generation of homes of all construction.
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