Have you ever sprained an ankle or broken a limb and discovered how challenging it can be to make your way around your home? Just as young families buying their first home think about how many rooms they will need for a growing family, baby boomers are now thinking about how they will ‘age in place’ in their next home purchase.
We were curious to hear what older people in our community thought about ‘ageing in place’ so a couple of months ago we invited a number of older couples to a focus group. They toured our new Woodland Creek homes and we had a discussion over lunch about what older people value in a community, a neighbourhood, and in home design. It was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon and it was very insightful. I’ll list a few of the outcomes.
- Older people value quality and comfort, they care about the environment and long- term value. ‘A penny saved is a penny earned’.
- Older people typically make healthy lifestyle choices and wish to remain attached to and involved in a vibrant community – not isolated in a gated community of seniors.
- They are often homeowners looking at relocating and downsizing. They often have the flexibility to stay in their current home while a new one is built and customized for them.
- They like Sooke because it is close to major shopping destinations and close to a range of health care options. It provides plenty of opportunities for leisure and active pastimes in a place with a small town feel and strong sense of community.
- They liked Woodland Creek because it is a vibrant community with a mix of households from young families to seniors that is close to trails, parks, schools and shopping.
- They like Woodland Creek homes because they are well built with many eco and mobility friendly features and low maintenance yards. They could see there was an attention to detail in the finishing that showed the builder cared. “Old time craftsmanship”
We knew from customer feedback that there were a couple key design features that are attractive for older buyers in Woodland Creek. Firstly, we have 3 home plans that feature a main floor master bedroom and bathroom. One rancher plan (the Elm) and two plans that have main floor living with 2 or 3 bedrooms upstairs (the Hemlock and Arbutus respectively). Secondly we have a geothermal heat pump system that uses forced air heating and cooling for better air quality and energy efficiency and the homes are Power Smart.
As we further explored with the focus group what makes a home more accessible and adaptable for ageing in place it was pointed out to us that our homes came with a number of standard features that were helpful for instance:
- Door handles & bathroom faucets are lever style which make them easy to grip;
- Rocker type light switches for ease of operation, 3 way switch for convenience in activating lighting as you move through the home;
- Task lighting in kitchen and drawers in lower cabinets for ease of access;
- Easy to operate window hardware;
- Programmable thermostats and built in vacuum rough in;
- Rough in for security alarm which can accommodate panic alerts in case of emergency;
- Backing in bathroom walls to accommodate future grab bars;
Of course this was good news to us, because many of these features fit the classification of ‘universal design’, which means they can be used by all people regardless of ability. The focus group was a productive exercise for us and helped to identify some of the wants and needs of our ageing population. It also gave us direction for continual improvement in accessible and adaptable design and customer service.
What features do you think should be incorporated into homes to make them more accessible and pleasing for ageing homeowners? We’d be interested to hear your thoughts.
About Totangi Properties Ltd. and Woodland Creek
Totangi Properties is a locally-owned and operated award winning property development and land management company established in 1968. Brothers Warren and Blair Robertson and their team work closely with the 2012 Built Green Builder of the Year, SC Smith Building Company, and are committed to creating affordable, high-quality residential properties and developments with lasting homeowner value. Together they earned the 2014 Avid Diamond Award for the highest customer satisfaction rating for new homes in Canada.
2012 Gold CARE Award winner for Best New Subdivision, Woodland Creek is a residential neighbourhood of new homes in the heart of Sooke, British Columbia – a waterfront community near Victoria BC. A planned residential community, Woodland Creek was designed with the objective of providing a wide range of new housing opportunities for the community; close to schools, parks and the Sooke shopping and service core with the fundamental commitments of quality construction, lasting value and the long term commitment of an established local developer.
For more information, visit www.totangi.ca .