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The Latest on Aging in Place: The NAHB Who’s Doing What Survey

| Owen Barclay |

We know that 10,000 people a day in the US turn 65, and that increasing numbers of these newly minted seniors are telling pollsters they plan to age in place. A brand new survey done by the National Association of Home Builders takes an in-depth look at what kinds of aging-in-place remodeling projects are being undertaken and what some of the emerging trends are. NAHB sent out questionnaires to thousands of its members to find out about current aging in place developments. We thought these findings must be helpful in your own planning, so here’s a capsule look at the results.

Bathroom safety tops the list. Almost 9 out of 10 aging in place remodelers report they were asked to install grab bars in 2018. Coming in a close second, the installation of higher toilet seats. A finding that surprised us: curbless showers make up a large share of bathroom renovations. Over 80% of survey respondents told NAHB they worked on curbless shower projects in the last year.

Improving Access. Widening doorway openings lead the improved access category with about 60% of remodelers doing this work in 2018. And almost half of all survey responders said they were hired to install ramps or lower thresholds to make home entry and room access easier for clients.

Living life on the main floor.  People are migrating to the first floor. Lots of respondents reported that first-floor bathroom construction increased in popularity last year. Over 40% of builders did a full bath addition on the main level; another 36% responded that they expanded downstairs bathrooms to full size, adding showers and/or tubs. Aging in placers are also giving up their second-floor bedrooms. Thirty-six percent of remodelers said they did first-floor bedroom work; either additions or conversions of existing space. 

Additional aging in place projects during 2018 included lowering kitchen cabinets and countertops, installing non-slip flooring and walk-in tubs and making use of new technology, especially easy to read thermostats.

What are the trends?  Some of the survey results are at all-time highs and reflect an increasing interest in safety and convenience. For example, the number of remodelers asked to install curbless showers set a record, jumping by more than a third since the survey began in 2004.  There’s also a surge in the placement of higher toilets, the installation of non-slip flooring and easy to read thermostats.

Advance planning.  To us, one of the most encouraging findings revealed the number of those surveyed who cited “planning ahead for future needs” as a prime motivator for clients to start a remodeling project in 2018. Nearly 9 in 10 told surveyors their customers were proactive about aging in place planning and were looking to make changes that anticipate future needs. The share of remodelers who say homeowners are not at all receptive to aging in place has dropped to a tiny 1% of all respondents. 

Aging in Place. The National Association of Home Builders are the folks who conducted this survey. They also offer advanced training for builders, designers, and planners who focus on aging in place planning and construction. As one of a select group who has completed these training programs, we hold a “CAPS” designation or Certified Aging in Place Specialist. We’re here to help you design and build a custom aging in place home environment that meets your current and future safety, comfort, and accessibility needs. Please give us a call or write to us at 604-259-9774 or write us at [email protected].