Aging-In-Place Checklists for Home Remodeling

This Aging-In-Place Design Checklist will be helpful as you consider which home modifications best meet your long-term needs.
Exterior
  • Low-maintenance exterior (vinyl, brick)
  • Low-maintenance shrubs and plants
  • Deck, patio, or balcony surfaces no more than ½ inch below interior floor level 
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
  • 36-inch door provides 32 inches of clear width for easy entry
  • Non-slip flooring in foyer
  • Entry door sidelight or high/low peep hole viewer provide privacy and safety
  • Doorbell in accessible location
  • Solid Surface in entry for holding packages, mail, etc.
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, a bedroom, and a bathroom
Hallways
  • At least 36 inches wide or wider to allow for easy movement
  • Well lit
Thresholds
  • Flush when possible
  • Exterior maximum of ½ inch beveled
  • Interior maximum of ¼ inch
Interior Doors
  • 36-inch door provides  32 inches of clear width
  • Levered door hardware
Windows
  • Plenty of windows for natural light
  • Lowered windows or taller windows with lower sill height
  • Low maintenance exterior and interior finishes
  • Easy to operate window hardware
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
  • Washing machine and dryer raised 12 to 15 inches above 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 pushbutton controls
  • Electric cook top 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 surface is hot
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 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 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 tub, shower, shower seat, and toilet for installation of grab bars to support 250 - 300 pounds
  • If stand-up shower is used in main bath, it is curbless and 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 center
  • Shower stall with built-in antibacterial protection
  • Light in shower stall
  • Toilet 2 ½ inches higher than standard toilet (17 to 19 inches) or height-adjustable
  • Design of the toilet paper holder allows rolls to be changed with one hand
  • Wall-hung sink with knee space and panel to protect user from pipes
  • Slip-resistant flooring in bathroom and shower
Stairways, Lifts, and Elevators
  • Hand rails on both sides of stairway, 1 ¼-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 select either pre-framed shaft (ie. stacked closets) for future elevator, or stairway width must be minimum of 4 feet to allow space for lift
  • Residential elevator or lift
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 garage
  • If code requires floor to be several inches below entrance to house for fume protection, can slope entire floor from front to back to eliminate need for ramp or step
  • Ramp to doorway if needed
  • Handrail if steps
Ramps
  • Slope no greater than one inch rise for each 12 inches in length, adequate handrails
  • Five-foot landing provided at entrance
  • Two-inch curbs for safety
Storage
  • Adjustable closet rods and shelves
  • Lighting in closets
  • Easy open doors that do not obstruct access

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 floor
  • Electrical outlets 15 inches on center from 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 or remote device 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 option)
  • Home wired for security
  • Home wired for computers and other home automation
Flooring
  • Smooth, non-glare, slip-resistant  interior and exterior surfaces
  • If carpeted, use low (less than ½ inch high pile) density, with firm pad
  • Color/texture contrast to indicate 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 circulation
Energy-Efficient Features
  • In-line framing with two by six studs spaced 24-inch on center
  • Air-barrier installation and sealing of duct work 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
  • Video phones
  • Intercom system
Other Ideas
  • Separate apartment for rental income or future caregiver
  • Flex room that can used as a nursery or playroom when the children are young and as a home office later; if combined with a full bath, room could also be used for an aging parent/aging in place/caregiver