Remodeling – What Seniors Need To Know
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Seniors that remodel do so for many reasons. However, taking on a remodeling project in your seventies or eighties is full of challenges. What are the issues? When should a senior remodel? If a senior does choose to remodel, what are the biggest challenges? Also, should a senior be retrofitting their home versus remodeling?
What Seniors Think About Remodeling
Carmen and I met a large number of seniors that were remodeling their homes. We knew how important a home is to a senior’s identity. We didn’t understand how a senior thought about remodeling. When we asked why they remodeled, we mostly heard a variation of, “We wanted to keep our home current so it wouldn’t lose value.” When we asked if they knew what types of remodeling would most increase the value of their home, they didn’t really know. Lots of the remodeling we heard about involved decks, awnings, bathrooms, and wall treatments. These things certainly made the seniors feel more comfortable in their home, but they didn’t always translate into a higher value for their homes.
Remodeling is great for keeping your home updated and at its full market price. But it’s not cheap, and if you’re a senior on a fixed income, it’s easy to spend lots more money than you should. Money that could have been used to keep you in your home.
Seniors Have An Emotional Attachment To Their Home
Staying in one’s own home is seniors’ number one concern. Seniors have deep and complicated psychological relationships with their homes. Common ideas or metaphors of home include:
With all the importance seniors place on their homes, overspending is easy. But unless the senior has lots of resources, the expenditures may diminish the senior’s ability to stay home. Too much money might be spent on the remodel relative to what can be recouped if the home is sold. If you end up wanting to stray in a remodeled home, you may discover that the remodels did not properly retrofit your home for aging.
See our Retrofitting Section here.
We Get Old, So Does Our Home
Let’s face it, as we age, we look old. We don’t look young, hip, modern or current. We’re not supposed to. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t try. Makeup, plastic surgery, Botox, new clothes, funky hairstyles are ways people try and keep our appearance fresh.
When Should A Seniors With Limited Resources Remodel?
Likewise, many people want their home fresh, modern, up to date. So they remodel. CarePlanIt doesn’t recommend remodeling for seniors with limited resources unless it is done to address one of the following:
Below are the areas non-seniors address most often when they remodel. If you’re looking to boost home value, these are the areas.
Remodeling Areas That Create Value
Creating open floor plans and adding additional square footage
Open floor plans are considered modern. Individual rooms with lots of interior walls are considered an older design. The older designs do not attract new buyers looking for something modern. They want open floor spaces. Removing interior walls makes a big difference in how space is used. Non-load bearing walls are the easiest to and cheapest to remove. Removing load bearing wall takes longer and is more costly. Another technique is creating pass-throughs and half walls.
> Knocking down interior walls (non-load bearing): $500 – $1,000
> Knocking down interior walls (load bearing): $750 – $2,000
Remodeling By Adding Additional Square Footage
Adding square footage can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000 and more. It depends on the scope of the addition and the finishing materials. The most common approaches to adding square feet are build-outs, second stories (completely new or expansions) and bump outs.
Bump outs or micro addition
A bump out or micro addition is an expansion to an existing room in your home. It usually adds a minimal amount of square footage. But done right, it has an impact of your living space. Bump outs must be build properly. They generally follow a rule of thumb: the two to one cantilever rule. A cantilever is a rigid structural element like a beam supported only on one side. Balconies and decks are often built cantilever style. The rule of thumb is two feet of support in for everyone foot out. Bump outs need to be constructed properly. Structural engineers can run the math. The builder needs to tie into the existing frame to a depth of at least two to one. If it is not built properly, the extension can sag and cause damage to the rest of the home. The cantilever construction allows the addition to hang from the side of the house.
Where Bump outs Work
Reading & Meditation Nooks
Many modern buyers value peacefulness. Adding a window seat to a sunny spot in your home with a bump out can create a great small space for reading or meditating.
Transforming A Bedroom
An unused bedroom properly located on your property can be turned into a family room with a bump-out. A bump out addition can expand a modest bedroom into a media room, family room, office or multipurpose room.
if you have buildable space outside of your kitchen or an L shaped kitchen you can usually expand the kitchen and create a more spacious and modern design. Cabinet space and islands are prized by new home buyers.
older master bathrooms often have a combined tub and shower. Modern homes have separate bath and shower spaces. Bump outs can be used to separate the bath form the shower.
nothing talk to some buyers like walk-in closets. Adding on just a few feet onto a master bedroom can create enough space for a walk-in closet.
Many older homes’ kitchens are cramped and don’t have functional eating areas. Many modern homebuyers say they spend most of their time in the home in the kitchen. Creating dining space in the kitchen is critical for buyers that recognize this reality. A bump out can create enough space for a table and chairs, or an island and chairs.
a new pet grooming station and much-needed storage.
The most common bump out is a sunroom. Sunrooms are glass and screen enclosures added to a home. They create a unique indoor space with an outdoor feel. Construction can be simple or complex. There are a multitude of frame, roof and glass options. Simple construction might involve covering an existing patio or deck, commonly called a screen room. More complex structures involve creating three and four-season rooms. Both are fully enclosed (engineered) and feature extensive glass windows. Four season rooms are designed for HVAV systems so they can be enjoyed year-round.
Building Out To Remodel
Most additions involve increasing the ground floor footprint of a home. This usually requires contractors, architects, or both. It’s likely dirt needs to be moved to clear space for the addition’s foundation or slab. The contractor usually brings in excavating equipment to clear the space needed. First, they lay a foundation (or slab). Then they construct the wall and roof of the new space. Finally, they open up and link the existing structure. Although this process involves a lot of construction and costs, it is often the leas disruptive to a homeowner’s life. A lot of the construction can occur outside the main home. Not until the contractors are ready to connect the new addition to the main structure do the house’s exterior walls come down. However, the building is often a complicated build process and requires an understanding of zoning laws (and often requires a variance).
Main Floor Additions That Work
modern buyers know most of a family’s time is spent in the kitchen and its certainly where much of the communal time is spent. Expanding a kitchen is great for home appeal and value.
Television and gaming are mainstays of modern families. Creating a room for these activities makes is a desirable addition.
Mudroom Or Larger Laundry Room
If you have kids, you know how easy it is for them to drag in the outdoors. Mudrooms help minimize what outside stuff gets in.
A dedicated area for laundry is often desirable.
no one has enough bathrooms, especially if you have a large family or entertain.
Large Master Suites
creating a large modern master suite with living space, a master bath and a bedroom is a great way to add square footage and home value.
Mother-in-Law Suite Or A Rentable Suite
If a small kitchen and separate entryway is added to the above, the suite becomes a unit that can be rented for extra income or used as a mother-in-law suite.
Having a dedicated workspace for office related work is desirable.
Adding a bedroom, even if small, is a way to make your home more desirable.
Second Home Office
A second home office add value. It can also be used as a guest room.
Health and fitness are a national obsession. Modern buyers often place value on a dedicated space for working out.
Building Up To Remodel
Building up involves adding another story onto a one-story home or expanding an existing top floor. But dealing with a second floor creates load (weight) that is likely to require that the contractor rip into and beef up walls, and the foundation under the new space. Some lots because of size or zoning laws do not allow for adding square footage to the main floor. If your lot size does not allow you to build out, then you must build up if you want to add onto your home. Because you have to remove the entire roof this type of addition is the most expensive, but you will end up with twice the home. For some people who love their neighborhood or their property and do not want to leave, this can be an attractive option to obtain the larger home they want.
Finishing A Basement
If you have a large basement space, finishing it off is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to create additional living space. Many basements are wired for plumbing and electricity. Even if they’re not, bringing electricity, plumbing, or both to the basement is less costly than most alternatives. Common basement designs include:
If you like having your teens and their friends under literally under your nose, building out tout basement into a teen bedroom is a great option. Teens make noise: often lots of noise. You can soundproof a basement. It can be a perfect space for beds, televisions, and musical instruments.
Man caves have become one of the most wished-for male toys. The options are endless. Man caves generally have one or more of the following elements: cushy couches and chairs, televisions, electronic games, table top games (e.g., pool, ping pong), and bars. Common themes include: sports, bar, cabin, hunting, movie theater, game room, office, studio, and arcade.
Kid caves can offer open spaces for kids for playtime. Toys, books, and games can be kept in the basement.
Another inexpensive conversion can be creating an office. Offices don’t need plumbing and you could skimp on the flooring. But lots of home workers want something much fancier than a cheap workspace.
The number one functional element of a wine cellar is temperature control. Stop here and a basement wine cellar conversion can be pretty inexpensive. If you want a full-blown wine bar you’ll be looking at something much different.
Placing the laundry appliances in the basement creates a basement laundry room. It’s a great way to create a separate space aways for the rest of the house. It’s not so convenient, but it does offer a way to free up main home space for other things.
Musicians are split on this one. Hiding music in the basement offends many professional musicians. However, if you have an aspiring tween drummer, this might be your best option.
Creating a basement gym is one of the easiest conversions. Basement gyms don’t necessarily need plumbing or expensive flooring. However, simple conversions don’t add a lot f home value.
Attics also offer opportunities for relatively low-cost additions. Common options include:
Garages also offer a relatively inexpensive expansion opportunity. They come with the foundation already built. Many are plumbed and wired. Common options include:
Other Resources For Remodeling
Remodels that add the most value here.
How to maximize your remodeling dollar here.