ArchitectureBoomer issuesFor BuyersFor HomeownersReal Estate August 26, 2010

Cool Universal Design Could Save Home Buyers Money In The Long Run

Let’s face it, buying a home is an expensive prop0sition. There are different ways to try to save some money when buying a home.  One of the issues I see is home buyers not thinking of the future when buying a home. Home buyers don’t think about how a home could save them money over time. Home buyers want a “deal” when first buying a home, which is not surprising, but they often don’t think about how well a home could work for them.  There are a few different ways to think about how a home could be more cost effective over time.

For example, most people don’t think about the floor plan or how easy it is to live in a home.  Think of buying a home that’s a great deal, but has 4 levels, meaning a lot of running up and down stairs.  This style of home is great, but can get tiring, literally and physically.  It gets old after awhile when you have to cart groceries and laundry up and down stairs.  Most home buyers don’t think about a floor plan that’s easy to live with over many years.  But there are floor plans out there that work for a lot of people and a lot of lifestyles.

Enter “Aging In Place.”  The name suggests we’re talking about older people who want to stay in their homes.  But “Aging in Place”  has another term associated with it, Universal Design, design that works for everyone, young and old alike.  The teen who breaks a leg playing soccer or the Mom who is navigating the front doorway into a home with a baby stroller and packages are all people who benefit from “universal design,” design for everyone.

Most people think aging in place or universal design has too many restrictions to be attractive to multi-generations.  This is not true, if a home is designed and done right.  The Aging Well Consortium blog has terrific photos of a variety of homes with universal design elements.  The design would easily appeal to most buyers who live on Seattle’s eastside.  Plus if universal design features are incorporated into a home when it’s built, it’s not any more expensive to build.

Kitchen with Universal Design Features

Gourmet Kitchen with Wider Passageway

Maybe one way to save money over time when buying a home is to look at a home as truly a long term investment, a home that works for you no matter what may change in your life. Few home buyers ever do this.  Moving can be expensive when you’re selling a home and buying a new home because you no longer can stay in your home.  Think about it.

What do you think?

(Photos from  Zai architect Emory Baldwin’s home.)