Aging-In-Place Remodeling Checklist

Have you ever wanted a quick reference for aging-in-place issues? Are you wondering how to incorporate some aesthetically pleasing designs into your projects? If so, the Aging-In-Place Design Checklist might be suited to your needs.

The checklist below contains features you may want to consider for your next new construction or renovation project. It also provides a quick reference for various aging-in-place issues. While the list is not all-inclusive, it will get thinking in the right direction.

Exterior

  • Low-maintenance exterior (vinyl, brick)
  • Low-maintenance shrubs and plants
  • Deck, patio, or balcony surfaces are no more than a half inch below interior floor level if made of wood

Overall Floor Plan

  • Main living on a single story, including full bath
  • No steps between rooms/areas on the same level
  • 5-foot by 5-foot clear/turn space in living area, kitchen, a bedroom, and a bathroom

Hallways

  • Minimum of 36-inches wide, wider preferred
  • Well lit

Entry

  • Accessible path of travel to the home
  • At least one no-step entry with a cover
  • Sensor light at exterior no-step entry focusing on the front-door lock
  • There needs to be 32-inches of clear width, which requires a 36-inch door
  • Non-slip flooring in foyer
  • Entry door sidelight or high/low peep hole viewer; sidelight should provide both privacy and safety
  • Doorbell in accessible location
  • Surface to place packages on when opening door

Thresholds

  • Flush preferable
  • Exterior maximum of a half inch beveled
  • Interior maximum of a quarter inch

Interior Doors

  • There needs to be 32-inches of clear width, which requires a 36-inch door
  • Levered door hardware

Windows

  • Plenty of windows for natural light
  • Lowered windows or taller windows with lower sill height
  • Low maintenance exterior and interior finishes
  • Easy to operate hardware

Garage or Carport

  • Covered carports and boarding spaces
  • Wider than average carports to accommodate lifts on vans
  • Door heights may need to be nine feet to accommodate some raised roof vans
  • Five-foot minimum access aisle between accessible van and car in garage
  • If code requires floor to be several inches below entrance to house for fume protection, can slope entire floor from front to back to eliminate need for ramp or step
  • Ramp to doorway, if needed
  • Handrail, if steps

Faucets

  • Lever handles or pedal-controlled
  • Thermostatic or anti-scald controls
  • Pressure balanced faucets

Kitchen and Laundry

Counters

  • Wall support and provision for adjustable and/or varied height counters and removable base cabinets
  • Upper wall cabinetry three inches lower than conventional height
  • Accented stripes on edge of countertops to provide visual orientation to the workspace
  • Counter space for dish landing adjacent to or opposite all appliances
  • Base cabinet with roll out trays and lazy susans
  • Pull-down shelving
  • Glass-front cabinet doors
  • Open shelving for easy access to frequently used items

Appliances

  • Easy to read controls
  • Washing machine and dryer raised 12-15 inches above floor
  • Front loading laundry machines
  • Microwave oven at counter height or in wall
  • Side-by-side refrigerator/freezer
  • Side-swing or wall oven
  • Raised dishwasher with push-button controls
  • Electric cook top with level burners for safety in transferring between the burners, front controls and downdraft feature to pull heat away from user; light to indicate when surface is hot

Miscellaneous

  • 30-inch by 48-inch clear space at appliances or 60-inch diameter clear space for turns
  • Multi-level work areas to accommodate cooks of different heights
  • Open under-counter seated work areas
  • Placement of task lighting in appropriate work areas
  • Loop handles for easy grip and pull
  • Pull-out spray faucet; levered handles
  • In multi-story homes, laundry chute or laundry facilities in master bedroom

Bathroom

  • Wall support and provision for adjustable and/or varied height counters and removable base cabinets
  • Contrasting color edge border at countertops
  • At least one wheelchair maneuverable bath on main level with 60-inch turning radius or acceptable T-turn space and 36-inch by 36-inch or 30-inch by 48-inch clear space
  • Bracing in walls around tub, shower, shower seat, and toilet for installation of grab bars to support 250-300 pounds
  • If stand-up shower is used in main bath, it is curbless and minimum of 36-inches wide
  • Bathtub - lower for easier access
  • Fold down seat in the shower
  • Adjustable/handheld showerheads, 6-foot hose
  • Tub/shower controls offset from center
  • Shower stall with built-in antibacterial protection
  • Light in shower stall
  • Toilet two and half inches higher than standard toilet (17-19 inches) or height-adjustable
  • Design of the toilet paper holder allows rolls to be changed with one hand
  • Wall-hung sink with knee space and panel to protect user from pipes
  • Slip-resistant flooring in bathroom and shower

Stairways, Lifts, and Elevators

  • Adequate hand rails on both sides of stairway, one and a quarter inch diameter
  • Increased visibility of stairs through contrast strip on top and bottom stairs, color contrast between treads and risers on stairs and use of lighting
  • Multi-story homes may provide either pre-framed shaft (i.e., stacked closets) for future elevator, or stairway width must be minimum of four feet to allow space for lift
  • Residential elevator or lift

Ramps

  • Slope no greater than one inch rise for each 12-inches in length, adequate handrails
  • Five-foot landing provided at entrance
  • Two-inch curbs for safety

Storage

  • Adjustable closet rods and shelves
  • Lighting in closets
  • Easy open doors that do not obstruct access

Electrical, Lighting, Safety, and Security

  • Light switches by each entrance to halls and rooms
  • Light receptacles with at least two bulbs in vital places (exits, bathroom)
  • Light switches, thermostats, and other environmental controls placed in accessible locations no higher than 48 inches from floor
  • Electrical outlets 15-inches on center from floor; may need to be closer than 12-feet apart
  • Clear access space of 30-inches by 48-inches in front of switches and controls
  • Rocker or touch light switches
  • Audible and visual strobe light system to indicate when the doorbell, telephone or smoke or CO2 detectors have been activated
  • High-tech security/intercom system that can be monitored, with the heating, air conditioning and lighting, from any TV in the house
  • Easy-to-see and read thermostats
  • Pre-programmed thermostats
  • Flashing porch light or 911 switch
  • Direct wired to police, fire and EMS (as option)
  • Home wired for security
  • Home wired for computers

Flooring

  • Smooth, non-glare, slip-resistant surfaces, interior and exterior
  • If carpeted, use low (less than a half inch high pile) density, with firm pad
  • Color/texture contrast to indicate change in surface levels

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning

  • HVAC should be designed so filters are easily accessible
  • Energy-efficient units
  • Windows that can be opened for cross ventilation, fresh air

Energy-Efficient Features

  • In-line framing with two by six studs spaced 24-inches on center
  • Air-barrier installation and sealing of duct work with mastic
  • Reduced-size air conditioning units with gas furnaces
  • Mechanical fresh air ventilation, installation of air returns in all bedrooms and use of carbon monoxide detectors
  • Installation of energy efficient windows with Low-E glass

Reduced Maintenance/Convenience Features

  • Easy to clean surfaces
  • Central vacuum
  • Built-in pet feeding system
  • Built-in recycling system
  • Video phones
  • Intercom system

Other Ideas

  • Separate apartment for rental income or future caregiver
  • Flex room that can used as a nursery or playroom when the children are young and as a home office later; if combined with a full bath, room could also be used for an aging parent/aging in place

Source: Home Innovation Research Labs ToolBase online resources


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