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Designing Homes for Aging-in-Place: An Interview with Monarcha Marcet of Adventure in Building, Inc.

By Monarcha Marcet

Please tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Adventure in Building, Inc. is a family owned business since 1990, specializing in consulting for homeowners for accessibility and aging-in-place. Services we provide include measuring for as-built drawings, designing proposed project, providing plans and written specifications, selecting products, preparing bid packages, and obtaining apples-to-apples bids from qualified remodeling companies. Additional services include acting as an owner's representative during construction.

Can you briefly explain what aging in place is?

The Center for Disease Control defines aging-in-place as "the ability to live in one's own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level." The term refers also to home modifications that allow one to remain in one's home as one ages instead of moving to an assisted living facility.

When should a homeowner start think about this type of design for their house?

The best answer is anytime. Being proactive has been shown to help prevent falls in the home. After a fall has happened and while in a rehab facility, the time constraints to remodel often result in a less than optimal project. If building new, start with the site selection.

What are some of the most frequently used features for people with health and/or age limitations?

For the entry - ramps, low profile thresholds and lever handles on doors. For the bathroom - grab-bars, hand-held faucets and curbless showers. For the kitchen - lowered appliances, additional lighting and single-handled faucets.

What newer aging in place trends do you think homeowners should know about?

My favorite is the bidet seat. Keep in mind that an outlet should be planned for within 2 feet of the toilet for a future bidet seat, if not getting one now. The cook-stop device is great for peace of mind when memory challenged individuals are in the home. Having no-step from the garage to the home interior is now being encouraged and is allowed by building departments.

How do the building and long-term costs usually factor into disability or accessibility design choices?

A family should compare the costs of assisted facilities with the cost of a custom home or remodel. Individual circumstances and needs will drive the comparison. Home care and transportation should be included as a factor in the aging-in-place scenario. Storage costs for belongings should be included as a factor in the assisted living scenario. Construction costs may be less than assisted care in a facility when compared over a period of time.

Do you have any general advice for people in Florida who are going to design and build a new home?

Building new is a fantastic opportunity to incorporate aging-in-place design concepts, and also the best time to do so. I would suggest researching individuals having the Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) designation from the National Association of Home Builders for either design or consulting services. Adventure in Building, will design or review any plan a homeowner is considering and will advise on features that should be included for a forever home.

What's the best way for people to contact your company?

Email: service@adventureinbuilding.com or monarcha@adventureinbuilding.com. Phone: 407-222-5582.

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