Sometimes the answer to a puzzle is right under your nose and you just have to step back and take in the whole perspective. One of the biggest obstacles to successful aging in place is being able to downsize when you have a really large house. Finding a smaller, more affordable home in the same community can be vexing. Builders are generally not making profits unless they go for the jumbo big MacMansion size homes. This perpetuates the cycle that when it is time for fewer stairs and just less space to care for, those occupants have to leave as well. People are having smaller families now, is 3500 square feet really necessary?
Rental units are sometimes the answer, but not if ownership is key and you want to trade the nest egg from your old home for a zero mortgage way of making your budget work. Taxes are there but most counties offer some level of tax relief for those over 60 or 65. So back to the drawing board as to how to answer the supply and demand for affordable accessible housing if you need to leave your original home. By that I mean rethinking the building of developments to contain more single units, fewer townhouses and large single family homes.
I have a concept, of rectangular single block units about 850 square feet of living space each, stacked in a creative way (not directly on top of each other) to allow for privacy and an access elevator to upper units and a caretaker/quest suite on the bottom. Imagine a little colony so to speak where 5-6 people (couples and singles) could live hopefully in harmony. There are no stairs, everyone has a patio view to somewhere and privacy. I would try and draw a picture but my skills are pretty lame. The truth is the sum total of the cost/profit of the units would be as much as a single family house on much the same foot print.
Now to less fantasy building and more reality. Once again I have to look to Canada for more innovative ideas on housing. In my last blog I brought up the idea of accessory buildings. Let us look at the Canadian secondary suite, or as I call it sweet solution to so much of what is missing when it comes to the future of aging in place and staying in your own place.
Of course housing/zoning rules are there for many reasons but not only to help profits for builders. The above concept is becoming a reality and really is not all that radical. They are talking primarily about making a reverse carriage house (ground level suite made from old garage space) or an above garage concept for a space for another person (relative or caregiver) to stay or rent.
Sorry, I can not find a more defined image to help project this idea either. So grab yourself some dark chocolate and think one out for yourself!