Aging in Place Checklist

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This checklist contains features you may want to consider for your next new construction or renovation project. Even if you aren’t thinking about remodeling for aging or retirement, many of these features will make future accessibility modifications easier down the road. No matter where you are in your remodeling journey, it’s nice to know that options exist to make living-in-place, a reality.

Exterior

  • Low-maintenance exterior (vinyl, brick)
  • Low-maintenance shrubs and plants
  • Deck, patio, or balcony surfaces are no more than a half-inch below interior floor level if made of wood

Overall Floor Plan

  • Main living on a single story, including full bath
  • No steps between rooms/areas on the same level
  • 5-foot by 5-foot clear/turn space in living area, kitchen, bedroom, and a bathroom

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Hallways

  • Minimum of 36-inches wide, wider preferred
  • Well lit

Entry

  • Accessible path of travel to the home
  • At least one no-step entry with a cover
  • Sensor light at exterior no-step entry focusing on the front-door lock
  • 32-inches of clear width, which requires a 36-inch door
  • Non-slip flooring in foyer
  • Entry door sidelight or high/low peephole viewer; sidelight should provide both privacy and safety
  • Doorbell in an accessible location
  • Surface to place packages on when opening the door

Thresholds

  • Flush preferable
  • Exterior maximum of a half-inch beveled
  • Interior maximum of a quarter inch

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Interior Doors

  • 32-inches of clear width, which requires a 36-inch door
  • Levered door hardware

Windows

  • Plenty of windows for natural light
  • Lowered windows or taller windows with a lower sill height
  • Low maintenance exterior and interior finishes
  • Easy to operate hardware

Garage or Carport

  • Covered carports and boarding spaces
  • Wider than average carports to accommodate lifts on vans
  • Door heights may need to be nine feet to accommodate some raised roof vans
  • Five-foot minimum access aisle between accessible van and car in the garage
  • If code requires a floor to be several inches below the entrance to the house for fume protection, can slope entire floor from front to back to eliminate the need for ramp or step
  • Ramp to the doorway, if needed
  • Handrail, if steps

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Faucets

  • Lever handles or pedal-controlled
  • Thermostatic or anti-scald controls
  • Pressure balanced faucets

Kitchen and Laundry

Counters

    • Wall support and provision for adjustable and/or varied height counters and removable base cabinets
    • Upper wall cabinetry three inches lower than conventional height
    • Accented stripes on edge of countertops to provide visual orientation to the workspace
    • Counter space for dish landing adjacent to or opposite all appliances
    • Base cabinet with roll-out trays and lazy susans
    • Pull-down shelving
    • Glass-front cabinet doors
    • Open shelving for easy access to frequently used items

Appliances

  • Easy to read controls
  • The washing machine and dryer raised 12-15 inches above the floor
  • Front-loading laundry machines
  • Microwave oven at counter height or in wall
  • Side-by-side refrigerator/freezer
  • Side-swing or wall oven
  • Raised dishwasher with push-button controls
  • An electric cooktop with level burners for safety in transferring between the burners, front controls, and downdraft feature to pull heat away from user; light to indicate when the surface is hot

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Miscellaneous

  • 30-inch by 48-inch clear space at appliances or 60-inch diameter clear space for turns
  • Multi-level work areas to accommodate cooks of different heights
  • Open under-counter seated work areas
  • Placement of task lighting in appropriate work areas
  • Loop handles for easy grip and pull
  • Pull-out spray faucet; levered handles
  • In multi-story homes, laundry chute or laundry facilities in the master bedroom

Bathroom

  • Wall support and provision for adjustable and/or varied height counters and removable base cabinets
  • Contrasting color edge border at countertops
  • At least one wheelchair maneuverable bath on the main level with 60-inch turning radius or acceptable T-turn space and 36-inch by 36-inch or 30-inch by 48-inch clear space
  • Bracing in walls around the tub, shower, shower seat, and toilet for installation of grab bars to support 250-300 pounds
  • If the stand-up shower is used in the main bath, it is curbless and a minimum of 36-inches wide
  • Bathtub – lower for easier access
  • Fold-down seat in the shower
  • Adjustable/handheld showerheads, 6-foot hose
  • Tub/shower controls offset from the center
  • Shower stall with built-in antibacterial protection
  • Light in shower stall
  • Toilet two and a half inches higher than the standard toilet (17-19 inches) or height-adjustable
  • The design of the toilet paper holder allows rolls to be changed with one hand
  • Wall-hung sink with knee space and panel to protect the user from pipes
  • Slip-resistant flooring in bathroom and shower

Stairways, Lifts, and Elevators

  • Adequate handrails on both sides of the stairway, one and a quarter-inch diameter
  • Increased visibility of stairs through contrast strip on top and bottom stairs, color contrast between treads and risers on stairs, and use of lighting
  • Multi-story homes may provide either a pre-framed shaft (i.e., stacked closets) for the future elevator, or stairway width must be a minimum of four feet to allow space for lift
  • Residential elevator or lift

Ramps

  • Slope no greater than one-inch rise for each 12-inches in length, adequate handrails
  • Five-foot landing provided at the entrance
  • Two-inch curbs for safety

Storage

  • Adjustable closet rods and shelves
  • Lighting in closets
  • Easy-open doors that do not obstruct access

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Electrical, Lighting, Safety, and Security

  • Light switches by each entrance to halls and rooms
  • Light receptacles with at least two bulbs in vital places (exits, bathroom)
  • Light switches, thermostats, and other environmental controls placed in accessible locations no higher than 48 inches from the floor
  • Electrical outlets 15-inches on center from the floor; may need to be closer than 12-feet apart
  • Clear access space of 30-inches by 48-inches in front of switches and controls
  • Rocker or touch light switches
  • Audible and visual strobe light system to indicate when the doorbell, telephone or smoke, or CO2 detectors have been activated
  • High-tech security/intercom system that can be monitored, with the heating, air conditioning, and lighting, from any TV in the house
  • Easy-to-see and read thermostats
  • Pre-programmed thermostats
  • Flashing porch light or 911 switch
  • Direct wired to police, fire, and EMS (as an option)
  • Home wired for security
  • Home wired for computers

Elevator in lower level of home also showing mechanical working in adjacent closet

Flooring

  • Smooth, non-glare, slip-resistant surfaces – interior and exterior
  • If carpeted, use low (less than a half-inch high pile) density, with a firm pad
  • Color/texture contrast to indicate a change in surface levels

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning

  • HVAC should be designed so filters are easily accessible
  • Energy-efficient units
  • Windows that can be opened for cross-ventilation, fresh air

Energy-Efficient Features

  • In-line framing with two by six studs spaced 24-inches on center
  • Air-barrier installation and sealing of ductwork with mastic
  • Reduced-size air conditioning units with gas furnaces
  • Mechanical fresh air ventilation, installation of air returns in all bedrooms, and use of carbon monoxide detectors
  • Installation of energy-efficient windows with Low-E glass

Reduced Maintenance/Convenience Features

  • Easy to clean surfaces
  • Central vacuum
  • Built-in pet feeding system
  • Built-in recycling system
  • Videophones
  • Intercom system

Other Ideas

  • Separate apartment for rental income or future caregiver
  • Flex room that can be used as a nursery or playroom when the children are young and as a home office later; if combined with a full bath, the room could also be used for an aging parent/aging in place

Source: Home Innovation Research Labs ToolBase online resources

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