Live at home longer

This house (now in its final phase of construction) is designed for retirees – an insightful couple with a number of justifiable requirements. They want to age at home and avoid nursing home residency for as many years as possible, planning instead to enjoy the magnificent sea and mountain views of their town sized block. They want to keep mentally healthy in a range of spaces suitable for different activities – running an online business, playing and teaching music, organising festivals, preserving seasonal foods, entertaining guests, quiet study, art and gardening.

They want to keep physically healthy by swimming year round with privacy from the neighbours. And they want all of these things without blowing their life savings, so cost/benefit ratio is very important here. Essentially, they’ve worked hard throughout their adult lives and now want to enjoy the rest of it with minimal inconvenience from physical ageing issues.

The views are from the first floor of the house, so the main living, music and sleeping areas are located there, with the lounge room opening onto an entertaining deck. An edible garden is accessible on the first floor rear deck, complete with ergonomic raised vegetable garden, fruit trees, storage for garden tools and discretely placed washing line. A butler’s pantry allows noisy food preparation machines to be closed off behind the open plan kitchen. The ground floor has a studio retreat with connection to the garden and self-contained accommodation for a carer if required.

Future mobility considerations have been incorporated into the plan. As a compromise between the views the home owners enjoy so much, the advantages of ground floor accessibility and the cost of a lift, the stairwell is designed for a mechanical stair climber. These products range from gimcrack and effectively useless to very good even for frail people. They’re also useful for carrying up shopping well before they’re needed for people.  Doors, bathroom and kitchen are wide enough to allow for a wheelchair, walking frame, carer or robot-aid.

On the ground floor the enclosed, private and easily kept warm exercise room contains fitness machines and a swimming pool. Instead of a long lap pool, a 5 metre endless swim spa fitted with pumps enables resistance swimming against a current. Solar panels provide the power.

As we age, we become less tolerant of temperature extremes, so passive solar is particularly important. The house is designed for winter warmth, summer cooling breeze and has both sunny and cool decks.

The home owners were pleased to be involved in the planning and design of this house and have enjoyed watching its construction. They look forward to an exciting retirement there with plenty of room for family and friends to visit.