When you take the decision to build your own home it’s an opportunity to avoid compromise and ensure that all the elements you’ve ever dreamed of are incorporated into your ideal house. Given the level of investment required and the time and effort involved, it’s often undertaken with the intention of creating your ‘forever home’; the home you can inhabit and enjoy for the rest of your life. This is a brief we are regularly given at WeberHaus and one that we have become experts at delivering.
It is why many people planning and designing a self-build consider the concept of living without barriers – to ensure that their dream home will remain suitable even as they enter their twilight years. Ageing brings physical changes that have a knock-on effect on lifestyle and these are the sort of things you can prepare for.
Steps can become tricky to negotiate, which makes stepless access a must-have when planning a future-proof home. Choose a broad doorway with a flat approach and avoid unnecessary mats in the area. It’s also wise to feature a porch or canopy with an easy-to-reach postbox. You are likely to slow down as you age and this way you can be sure to stay dry when searching for your keys or retrieving the mail.
Open-plan living areas have become popular in recent years and this style is ideal for a living without barriers approach. Plan your living space to be as open and clear as possible allowing for generous proportions and short distances between each area. If you do choose to have separate rooms with doorways, ensure they are wide to create a clear thoroughfare and choose sliding doors that disappear into the wall rather than protrude into your living space and create an obstacle.
To ensure that your bathroom remains easy to use, make sure your door opens outwards or operates on a sliding mechanism to maximise the space. It’s also important to factor in a lock that can be operated from both sides as a safety feature. When it comes to the bathroom, plan your space carefully to minimise obstacles. A wetroom set up with drainage embedded into the floor or wall will remove trip hazards, whilst sensor functionality on taps will help to future-proof your bathroom and allow you to enjoy the latest technology. It’s also wise to go for anti-slip flooring.
Stairs are an obvious consideration when planning ahead, unless you’re keen to go the bungalow route, and there’s plenty you can do to create a manageable staircase. Choose a straight run rather than a curved feature to keep things simple and avoid open steps or undercuts as they can increase the risk of stumbling. You should always ensure a minimum area of 1.50m at the top and bottom of your staircase to allow sufficient space for movement, and handrails should be installed on both sides of any staircase. Plan your lighting to ensure the whole area is well-lit and glare-free; LED lighting is a stylish and practical touch.
The garden is an important feature of any home and it’s a given that you will want to be able to enjoy it whatever your age. Ensure access is clear with no raised door frames to create trip hazards and avoid any unnecessary sleepers, especially on terraces and balconies. Keep gardens flat without steps and if incorporating any pathways ensure they are wide and flat, without any ‘swell’.
Smart home technology is increasingly popular and certainly makes day-to-day living easier; it is likely to become integral to homes of the future and offers tangible benefits to older homeowners. At a basic level, things like electric roller blinds should be fitted, rather than those operated by a crank or pulley. Switches can be made portable due to wireless features; much easier for the less mobile among us. Whilst today’s older generation might feel uncomfortable with this, the grandparents of tomorrow will be entirely tech-savvy and able to benefit from these lifestyle-enhancing features.
Ultimately, if you’re investing time and money in the design and construction of your forever home, it’s important to consider how this home will suit you in the years to come. WeberHaus architects always consider how to make your home fit your lifestyle, incorporating features that enhance your living environment with no compromise on style, making your home comfortable, sustainable and multigenerational.