With the cost of moving home, ever-increasing families and couples are always looking for ways to stay in their current house but tailor it to their changing needs. This has led to a wide range of house renovation projects that are looking to ‘Future Proof’ houses and homes.
Future-proofing a house includes the considerations for how a family will be able to use the space as they get older. This could include looking at accessible bathroom design, step-free access at the front and rear, and how to traverse through multiple storeys.
You should try and ensure that there is step-free access all the way through the house. This includes the pathway from the pavement and parking areas, across the front door threshold, through the living areas and out of the back door.
Whether this one level design is possible will depend largely on your building or plot. If level changes are required internally you could consider the use of ramp access or include a home lift for larger level changes (see below for more details on including a home lift into your design).
In the UK we do need some type of threshold for front doors due to our weather conditions, however, these can be minimal, step-free and perfectly suitable for wheelchair users.
This entrance door from the IQ Ingresso Range includes a weather protection threshold at the base but the smooth design still creates a step-free movement from inside to out. In addition, you get a modern, contemporary front door whose design can be tailored to the project.
At the rear of the property flush threshold patio doors are already all the rage. A bifolding door set or sliding door installation can give you a step-free threshold as well as a modern rear elevation with lots of glass. If you do not have space for such a large glass installation to the rear you should ensure that the rear door is wide enough for wheelchair access and has a step-free finish when open.
Once you have achieved step-free access to the garden you should also ensure that you can traverse through the garden or outdoor area as well. If the property is lucky enough to have a large garden area ensuring the landscaping is suitable for wheelchair users or those with limited mobility will increase their quality of living.
All external floor finishes should be hard and non-slip for easy travel.
You may also want to look at the planting scheme used and ensure that it is low maintenance wherever possible. The design of the garden and planting will need to be considered along with the homeowners’ input on how much care and maintenance they are going to be able to put into the garden care.
If the homeowners love gardening raised flower beds may be a useful inclusion into the garden design to ensure the user does not have to bend over to tend to the plants.
Smart Home Technology can be a bit of a gimmick in some designs, however, it can be incredibly useful in future-proofing a home design for accessibility. A properly configured smart home system will reduce the number of switches and actions that need to occur on a daily basis, making life easier for users with limited mobility.
Having one switch (or one action on a smartphone app) that simultaneously turns on the kitchen light, turns on the radio and switches on the coffee maker could make the morning routine that much quicker.
Obviously, that is just one example. The beauty of smart home technology systems is that they can be tailored to the user of the space and altered as required.
“Smart Home Technology is really personal,” says Chhaya from IndigoZest, smart home technology specialists at Sky House. “The control system can be tailored to how you want to use the space. We also look at how homeowners currently use the home to see how the system can be designed to be most efficient. For those for which movement is more difficult having the ability to see who is at the door via a tablet or screen and allow the caller in from the comfort of their armchair is a great smart home addition.”
For future proof homes that means you can engineer your home to react to your needs quickly and efficiently.
Bathrooms tend to be one of the smallest rooms in the house, but if you want to future proof a house design you need to ensure that these essential self-care rooms are designed for access throughout the user’s lifetime.
Consider the movement through a space and how easy all cupboards and taps are to reach. The main area of concern in a bathroom when future-proofing will be removing trip hazards and avoiding the risk of falls.
Slip-resistant tiles are a must. You may also need handrails or grab bars in strategic locations. If these are not going to be installed straight away it is a good idea to map them out to ensure there will be space to install them in the future.
This large house in Godalming Surrey was given a ‘Future Proofing’ renovation which included the installation of a home lift from Gartec Home.
Modern home lifts, like those from Gartec Home, can easily be installed into small areas; some can be as small as a wardrobe! By including a home lift within a renovation project you future proof the space by ensuring the residents can maintain access to all floors of the home no matter their mobility as they age.
Future-proofing needn’t be a huge building project. This home lift installation took a week to completely install. The modular design meant that no major building works were needed and it caused minimal disruption to the house occupants.
The automatic doors of the home lift, as well as the double door opening, mean that the home lift is highly suitable for a wheelchair user. In addition, the minimal glass doors and the geometric design to the rear of the home lift mean that it is also a seamlessly integrated part of the home interior.