Thinking new construction? Don’t be dazzled by decorating…

house_02What’s better than a new car, new clothes or new shoes? A shiny, brand spanking new house! Not just any new house, but a new house in a brand new community with all kinds of awesome amenities and special features! But beware:  It’s easy to be so dazzled by the decorating that the important questions never get asked.

If you are seriously shopping for a new house in a new community, be prepared to ask the questions that will help you make the right decision, especially if you are interested in a 55+ or Active Adult Community. Write out your questions before you go so you can be sure you get the answers you need, even if you find yourself getting caught up in the beautifully decorated models, the Clubhouse, the Golf Course, the pools and tennis courts, and other community amenities.

For example, in new construction we know that there are generally options and upgrades available. If you ask the salesperson, what options and upgrades do you offer?” you will likely hear about the optional sunroom or bonus room, the optional deck or fireplace. For upgrades, you will generally be offered different kitchen cabinets or counter tops, higher grade appliance packages or a more luxurious master bathroom. Some communities have pages of possible options and upgrades.

But if you are shopping for a home to live in the rest of your life, whether or not that home is in an Active Adult Community or other age restricted community, you may want to add this question: “Do you offer a Universal Design Package?” or “What Universal Design features do you offer in this house/community?”

Forward-thinking builders will not only have an answer but they will provide a comprehensive list of features that can be incorporated into their homes. The best builders will be able to point out Universal Design features that are already standard items and tell you about others that can be substituted or made available as upgrades.

Standard items might include:

  • Rocker Light Switches at 42” instead of 48”
  • Electrical Outlets that are 18” high instead of 12”
  • Lever door handles
  • Task lighting
  • Reinforced bathroom walls for later installation of grab bars
  • Decorator towel bars that work as grab bars

Options or Upgrades that should be available today include:

  • 36” wide doorways with off-set hinges
  • Showers with a low or zero threshold
  • Variety in both bathroom and kitchen counter height to allow for seated use or wheelchair access
  • Appliances with front controls for less reaching
  • Washers, Dryers and Dishwashers installed on raised platforms for less bending

Why be concerned about buying a Universal Design home today? Even if you don’t plan on living in your new home for the rest of your years, over 37% of Eastern Sussex County is already over the age of 50. How old will the average buyer be when you’re ready to sell? In less than a decade, even the youngest Baby Boomer will be over 55.