Poorly thought out condo floor plans for the retiring Baby Boomers
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Developers say they are building their condos for the retiring Baby Boomers but in fact they are still designing them for the American holidayer :-( What in the heck are they thinking? They call 1200 sq ft and under a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom dwelling where there is no room to move around or store your mop/broom, vac, toilet paper, paper towels etc. Baby Boomers even though they are retiring still have treasures that they are not quit old enough to part with just yet! BB's will have accidents or some other misfortune in health thus will require a walker or wheelchair- so they will need nice wide doorways to easily get through like 40 inches plus need a large 2 door bathroom (and not two). Buildings should already have handi-cap door openers installed to the parkades and all units pre wired for just in case.
Those combo shower tubs are dangerous and should be abolished altogether!! Showers should all have tall bench seats and taller commodes. Bathroom should have a prior reinforced wall for grab bar and a small vanity would be a bonus :-) Carpet is hell trying to roll a wheelchair on and bad for allergies. The kitchens only need one large sink and garberators are dirty little things that are dated -so instead a wine cooler fridge would be a bonus! These new condos give only room for dishes and no room for food!! Every unit should have a food pantry and a laundry room attached to a storage room with 2 or 3 pantry style cupboards installed (and include a kitty litter nook)The fridges are never big enough so they should have a side by side freezer/fridge. There should be enough drawers for cooking utensils and microwaves should be banished from above the stove.
The oven and convection oven should be installed in the wall to save BB's backs, and not only that it's been proven that microwave over head fans do not work as well as a normal hood fan. MW's are not easy to keep clean from all the grease that collects underneath. There should be lights under the cupboards and bathroom floor. 2 or 3 ceiling fans are a must! The less walls the better to keep the apartment open and airy without that cooped up feeling and decks should be about 144 sq ft with drainage for plants and gas for INCLUDED in sale small S/S barbecue. It would be nice if folks were given the choice of high end appliances like Bosh or something less. I have studied over the past 5 years most of the new condos in our area and wish I could take one good idea from each and every one of them and design one well thought out PLACE TO ACTUALLY LIVE IN 365 days a year 24/7.
Oh and I almost forgot: with the new flat screens they pick up too much glare so the cable outlet should be installed more in front of window light and folks would rather dine with a nice view because who looks outside when you are watching TV???? Company smells like fish after 3 days so a 1 bedroom with a Murphy bed would be very practical.
Thank you for listening and thanking any developer out there who WILL finally LISTEN to what the retiring aging Baby Boomer needs. I have 2 floorplans to show you if anyone is interested?
Unfortunately, plans for new condos and rental apartments are heading to the 500-700 sq ft size. Great for youth and healthy singles - but disasterous for those of us who want to stay in our homes as we graduate from young healthy seniors to elderly with mobility probelms.
I agree with all your comments - execpt the BBQ. A neighbours smoke easily becomes another person's household air.
Very well written and well thought out article.
It is very disappointing that some condo,s for seniors do not allow wheel chairs in some cases you are not advised until you have moved in that this is not allowed. One place when mangement was ask if I broke my leg and reqired a weelchair what would I do,they stated we would give you some extra time to fing another place.
Steve there has to be hope in getting our message to new developments in favour of Babyboomers and their lifestyle needs. There isn't too much a person can do about already established built condos or apartments except Buyers Beware and ask lost of questions and get it on paper :-)
I think your ideas are wonderful and well thought out. I would never have thought of most of them something to look for when shopping. I hope to be condo bound in a few years and am afraid if I find one with your suggestions, I won't be able to afford it. I think your comments should be fwded to developers everywhere or published in local papers where there is a possibility of attracting the attention they deserve.
Linda, I think you have many very good ideas that might be of interest to builders and also of interest to those who are renovating. As a Realtor, I find that few of the new condos are well thought-out with features you have mentioned. It's my job therefore to help my clients find the best fit and sometimes it does take a while! Perhaps the next time you pick up a Times Colonist you could forward your comments to the person who is editor of the home section. And don't forget Senior Living Magazine! Maybe they would do an article on these ideas. You never know!
I have a Question and would appreciate some input and advice from others in my same age group.I live in a town house on two floors,the rent is fine and utilities are reasonable,at the present time I have some cleaning help every 2 weeks,when I was between helpers I managed on my own,barely.I can move into a rental condo with an elevator,where I wont have to go outside across a driveway for mail, very hard in winter.I use a cane and also a walker for trips to the mall.,my question is it worthwhile to go through all this moving etc. just for the sake of a feww small conveniences.I moved and sold 2 homes in 2 counties when my husband passed away,so finances not a problem,although I swore that I would never again purchase anything that required,painting or feeding.I really prefer to rent,What are your thoughts?
HI Linda and forum readers,
You article is spot on and at the same time unfortunately unrealistic all at the same time.
Although I totally agree that developers, builders, the approving governments and planning departments should consider your ideas and suggestions, they are very unlikely to come about unless we attach a hefty price tag to them.
With the current cost of building, land cost and zoning bylaws, it is very unlikely that any builder developer will volunteer to give up precious space in their plans for wider hallways and or overal suite sizes unless they are forced to do so by a zoning bylaw, and the general public willingness to pay for the added cost and or loss of desnity (units saleable by the builder).
Over the past 25 years we have seen the overal size of suites (rental as well as ownership ones) become smaller and smaller, and somehow have more rooms and stuff in these smaller spaces.....
why you ask, simply stated, because they can.
the zoning bylaws in most areas allow for this and hence builders will always try to build to the highest density possible to sell as many suites as possible on the smallest foot-print possible.
This is really not their fault, builders developers are in the business of making money for themselves and their investors, within the law and within their ability to sell their product at a profit.
Today I checked some information, the average cost per square foot for wood framed suites build since 2008 for sale in greater Victoria is $ 407.60 psqft. for concrete buildings this average cost is $ 519.32. These amount are taken from the VREB current market invetory averages.
Linda's observation of a 2 bedroom 2 bathroom suite at about 1,200 sqft is almost bang on again, today the average pice of a suite like that (2008 or newer) would be $ 419,900 in a wood framed building and $ 739,980 in a concrete building
So create Linda's ideal suite say about 1,400 sqft. and have 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms with slightly wider hallways, more storage and a few other adjustments and use our cost per square foot from above. Our ideal suites would now cost $ 570,640 for a wood framed building and $ 727,048 for its concrete version.
Yes my math may be a bit simplistic, but you get the point, it would be almost impossible for most people to afford to purchase these suites today.
In addition, we would then require more land to build on in order to accomodate these larger suites, which would possibly drive the cost up even higher.
In summary I would like to commend Linda with her suggestions for improvements to the usability and design of the suites for better and more age appropriate use and safety.
However we also like to urge those that are considering moving to a more convenient type property, that this might also be a great opportunity to decide that your safety and wellbeing likely is to be a higher importance in your home compared to space to display your belongings, regardless if you made the move or not.
Again Linda Thank you for your thoughts, and I will certainly bring your comments forward to any builder we work with.
Live a Pfanntastic Live
Peter and Linda Pfann
We live in a seniors building in Langley & we think its great for people that are handicapped.My husband is but not in a wheel chair nor walker,like many are in this building.The doorways are wider to get into the suite,large open area with kitchen with pantry & dining room & living room all open.There even is a little nook that we eat at every night,that a wheelchair could roll up to easily.The condos are all 2 bedrooms 2 bathrooms...1052 sq' ft. but lots of storage here.but theres a pocket door so one bedroom & bathroom could be used for a private suite if you had someone living with you to help you during your day.Unfortunately there are 2 bath tubs with showers.........but there is a bar for one & they can be easily changed to a walkin.
I will give you an idea what my place looks like but one must remember I do have lots of furniture.....http://www.cotala.com/tours/tour.php?tourid=0499 see if this works? If not its on You Tube only because I have it for sale can I share these pictures with you..........http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEm5bQlpAc4I
Yes I understand from my aunt who lives in Vancouver that there are several condos that are set up with wide doors, cheater bathrooms with pocket doors, no carpet, open floorplan, lots or storage etc. But I live in Victoria and there is nothing that caters to the retired babyboomer or handi-caped using wheelchairs or walkers! What does someone do when they shatter their ankle? Sleep in the living room? And how do they get into the bathroom? I heard the Berkley did not even put in bathtubs because they are way too dangerous. I like those walk in tubs but who can afford that? We have a 80% perfect 1200 sq ft condo. It is a 1 bdrm 2 bathroom but the second bathroom I put a heavy sheet of plywood over the tub and now have some nice stirage ;-) The bedroom doorway was already 40 inches wide but I recently paid $400.00 to have the master bathroom door and frame removed so doorway is also 40 inches. It was such a liuttle dinky bathroom with only a small shower, toilet and sink so now it feels more spacious and the moisture does not run down teh walls. (I do have a vent fan but the moisture still ran) I also altered the size of the food pantry so I could have a decent sized fridge. We plan on selling in the next year or two because my husband now has dementia so our lives are changing again. I sure appreciated every ones comments. Its a real shot in the arm so thanks! I felt good to get all these condo peeves off my chest LOL If the developers wised up and listened to the babyboomers needs -their condos would be all sold in a pre-sales and that would also be a savings to the buyer! Victoria needs it.Here Here!
opps correction ... I meant the Berwick not the Berkley here in Vic. Sorry folks.
Linda, I value your opinions on baby boomer home design and I would love to see your condo floorplan designs!
I have not used my desk top in a while and now linked it to my wireless router so I just recieved your email today. I will gladly send you my 2 floorplans that I believe are ideal.
Sure would nice to haer from somebody out there :-) If you have any ideas please share. I seen a 700 sq ft apartment and they had a Captain style bed (drawers build underneath instead of box spring). Very clever! I would like to see pantry cupboard type divider walls instead of waste of space to the ceiling drywall walls. I believe storage cupboards, no long narrow hallways, pocket or sliding 40 inch doors and no more combo bathtub showers are a good start. How bout you?
MASCOUCHE, Que. - Here's something Canadians might not know about the floor of the House of Commons: it isn't as wheelchair friendly as they might think.
Rookie New Democrat Manon Perreault — the second-ever Canadian MP who is permanently wheelchair bound — struggles whenever she tries to roll herself across the thick carpeting.
Perreault usually asks parliamentary pages to give her a push across the fluffy fabric, which she says offers a surprising amount of resistance.
"The more that carpets are comfortable, the softer they are, the harder it is (to move)," Perreault told The Canadian Press in a recent interview at her riding office north of Montreal.
"It's a bit like snow."
But Perreault's not asking for those carpets to be changed. Her goal is to put accessibility issues on the political radar for the millions of Canadians who face them every day.
This spring, Perreault, a paraplegic who has been using a wheelchair since a 1993 horseback-riding injury, followed the trail blazed with the 2004 election of Conservative MP Steven Fletcher, who is a quadriplegic.
In Parliament, Perreault raises her hand to vote instead of standing up. To avoid climbing the steps to the back bench, the newbie already sits in the front row.
That spot is usually reserved for a party's most-seasoned MPs.
"It's very good for a rookie," she said with a laugh.
The significance of her win wasn't lost on Canadians who live with disabilities.
Only days after the election, Perreault's inbox was jammed with close to 100 congratulatory emails from people living with reduced mobility, many of whom said they hoped to meet her one day.
Perreault responded to the gestures in her first House of Commons statement — during which she shared her win with all four million Canadians with disabilities.
In those remarks, Perreault also pledged to help them play an active role in society and raise awareness about the needs for social programs to fight isolation.
Only a few months into her new gig, Perreault's experience in federal politics has already been an atypical journey.
The former small-town councillor campaigned in local coffee shops and restaurants instead of knocking on doors, which she says would have been a major undertaking in a wheelchair.
Perreault, who admits she still has a lot to learn about her new job, also wants to work to ensure Canadians who are injured in accidents all receive equal financial compensation.
She has already pressed the government to fulfil its commitment to implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities it signed a few years ago.
When asked about the possibility of working with Fletcher, Perreault replied that her door is open.
"I'm open to working with anybody, as long as it's sincere and we're truly doing it for people — that we're not doing it for PR," said Perreault, a unilingual francophone who's planning to learn English.
Fletcher, Canada's minister of state for transport, has worked on projects such as a registered disability savings plan and the creation of a fund to make communities more accessible.
He's confident he can work with Perreault, despite the political and linguistic hurdles.
"There are a lot more similarities between MPs than differences and Manon Perreault and I have something in common that goes beyond party or language," said Fletcher, who uses an electric wheelchair to get around.
Fletcher's initial election victory led to several adjustments on Parliament Hill, such as a rule change to allow his caregiver to enter the House of Commons, additional wheelchair ramps and adaptations to one of the elevators.
Aside from their political and linguistic differences, Fletcher and Perreault have entirely different personal challenges to deal with.
The Manitoba MP, paralyzed from the neck down after a 1996 highway collision with a moose, said her presence on the Hill will help other politicians understand that people with disabilities — including paraplegics and quadriplegics — have different needs.
Fletcher added it became obvious very quickly after he was first elected that federal politicians knew little about people with mobility challenges.
"Just allowing people to see what is in fact possible, or what is needed, has had an impact on the mentality of decision-makers and people who influence public opinion," he said.
But he noted that there could be one thing that might affect a working relationship between him and Perreault.
"Perhaps the only exception will be if you catch her and I racing down the halls," Fletcher said.
"I hope to win that race, but I don't know, she looks like she could be pretty fast."
Folks what would it take for developers to stop installing carpet and start installing 40 inch wide doorways all through an apartment and using sliding or pocket doors??
And TV installed over the fireplace is a no no because a TV must be at eye level. Especially the new flatscreens because if you are not eye level you get a distorted picture. I really wonder if we really need a fake fireplace when we have other heating methods in our apartments and houses. I do like the raised fireplaces as they make more sense.
2 or 3 ceiling fans through out a condo are a must because when you live in a small area the air does not move because of no cross breeze. Narrow rectangluar trailer style type floorplans can be prone to stuffyness. Fans circulate the air and can keep you nice and cool during the summer. Builders should at least rough in the wiring in 2 or 3 rooms specifically for this.
And its also very hard to get to the bathroom when you have to walk or wheel yourself through a closet in order the get to the bathroom. And the toilet seems to be always located at the far side of the bathroom :-( It just makes no sense. Developers why not give us one BIG really nice double sliding door bathroom instead of 2 dinky ones?? Its far more practicle and nicer too!
Well written comment on difficulty of condo living. Especially the bathroom situation, a terrible frustration, those changes are hugely important for everyone not only BB's. All her comments could be doable, however unfortunately they will be at a premium. Buildings these days are built on affordability and aimed at accommodating the young and wealthy. Sad to say..
I think Linda's comments are right on the mark, but as stated above, we are driven by the merchants of greed, and those who have not "cut a fat hog" seem to be fated to exist on the leavings. My wife and I date back to the close of the Great Depression, when people really cared about each other and there were not too many "almighty dollars" around. I think we are rapidly approaching "Soylent Green" where we seniors can do our bit for the country by reporting to the nearest euthanasia center upon retirement, to not become a drain on society and to provide food pellets for the hungry. I am watching with great interest the rapidly spreading "Occupy Wall Street" movement in hope that perhaps they will have an effect on overriding greed and the loss of empathy. Then, perhaps, we will swing back toward equilibrium. One can but hope.
Garberators are smelly and splash bacteria and when you have a dishwasher a person does not need a 2 sided sink. One large sink is great because you can wash a whole lasagna dish or turkey roaster in it! Constracters need to change with the times.
Anyone out there know if there are any apartments for rent or condos for sale in Victoria that have wide doorways (40 inch) to all rooms including a bathroom fthat are walker and wheelchair friendly? If a doorway is not wide enough it gets nicked up pretty bad. We would like to rent or purchase by the end of 2012 or early 2013.
I find a masterbedroom less than 12X12 (not including closet) is too small. There is no room for a wheelchair nor bedroom furnature to keep my clothes in.
In big cities now more and more people are living in condos. They generally do not need the wide doors etc that baby boomers (and us older than that) seniors need. Some seniors homes do have such features but they are limited in availability. There will likely be no quick fix for this problem despite the increasing need. Hopefully new services for seniors will allow us to stay in our homes longer and by then more friendly homes condos will be available. However I am not holding my breath. Friends of ours just moved into a care home at 90+ years old and had stayed in their house until that age. Luckily they were mobile enough to not need too many facilities for "handicapped" baby boomers. There may be one hope and that is that some people will make suites in their homes "senior friendly" to take advantage of this increased need and help pay the high taxes caused by too much municipal beaurocracy.
You are absolutely correct! Helping parents using a walker, scooter, and vision assistance requires condo options such as plugins in common sense places. The storage and charging of a scooter would seem not out of the exception in a day when so many are available. Garbage disposal, wide hallways, good lighting are all simple things to look for.
I'd sure be interested in some well thought out prepared plans. Thanks, Ron L
Thank you for posting and sharing your well considered thoughts. Awareness is essential for change. The developer and builders seek to identify needs and then fill those needs where they can do so and also generate a profit for themselves. As others have said in their comments unless they are legally required to do so they are unlikely to change their building standards unless they feel there is a market of buyers who will pay the premium.
Best regards, Ron Neal, RE/MAX Alliance
Would anyone know of any NICE apartments/condos for rent that would have the bedroom and bathroom doorway wide enough for a manual wheelchair? (38-40 inches) and bedroom would need to be at least 12x13. We will need a new place to live in 2012 :-) This is going to be a real scary problem for us. He also needs a hard flooring and we actually only need a 1 bedroom but would prefer at least 900 sq ft?
This thread is very informative, but i find myself echoing Peter and Linda who posted in Feb. 2010. I am in a Senior Housing cooperative, we are currently developing a four story apartment complex we are a not-for-profit endeavour yet could never offer all the wish list requested, not if we are to remain affordable (between $198,900, $234,900, $294,900) We have 1 bedrooms, 1 bedroom plus den and 2 bedrooms/2baths units. They range from 617 - 628 - 745 - 875 - 924 - 932 sq ft. We tried to reflect as many wishes as possible, some free-hold ownership, some rentals. The greatest challenge as we age is to let go, the need to streamline our households is a painful exercise better started early by choice rather than waiting to be forced into it. I opted for a duplex unit in the strata contingent to the apartment building, I garden and have a dog. Some of the men retained their workshop, using half their 2-car garage for it. Involvement in the cooperative keeps those with a leadership bend plenty of opportunity to remain active beside golfing.
The theme is to Age in Place, we plan for evolving needs, independent or supportive or assisted living and finally residential care, all on our property where the community continue to surround us with familiar faces.
The best decision I ever made on my own.
Good to hear from you! Could you please give me more info so that I can look into it? Is this in Victoria?
I am interested in finding out what an approximate monthly rental charge would be for a new, 1 or 2 bedroom condo or legal suite that is wheelchair accessible and outfitted accordingly (bathroom & kitchen fixtures) in the Langley, BC area? - If there are any, even ready for 2013.
I am a pre-senior and have been reading these posts. I cant help wondering how low income seniors who do not have the money to buy a condo with or without wide doorways, etc., and who would have difficulty even renting (like me), manage to survive. Not a future for me to look forward to.
Just scanning the comments in this thread, I am a builder in Saskatchewan currently working on a seniors condo project, and am open to all views on layout, floorplans, and any details associated. We have much lower land costs where I am, so our group is set to design and build with all effort towards human comfort.. Any comments or advice?
I would like to send you an ideal floorplan. firstname.lastname@example.org and then we can chat :-)
Long hallways and walls take up a lot of space
Bedroom should be at least 12x12 in order to accomodate a king or twin beds
Combo tub/showers are dangerous (and too shallow and short to enjoy a soak in)
no carpet anywhere
38 inch doorways for easy passage sliding or pocket door
nice sized cheater bathroom w/sliding or pocket doors
2 good quiet ceiling fans because most condos do not get a cross breeze
wall oven for bad backs and nobody uses a microwave much anymore. Convection oven is a healther practicle way to go.
Every kitchen needs a food pantry
do not install TV above the fireplace because its too high and heat is bad for TV
Do not face TV towards window because the glare reflects
auto door opener at parking levels
3 or 4 pantry style cupboards in the main foyer to keep mops, vaccum, cleaning supplies, garbage cart, kitty litter and box etc.
I think the dining room should have the view because who watches TV and looks out the window?
Try not to build in front of a bus stop because they are noisy and spew unhealthy fumes right into the apartment air system
Hope this help you ;-)
Seeking apartment or house to rent in Victoria BC mid to late 2013 under 1500.00 a month. We are responsible early seniors with excellent references. We have 2 fixed, declawed well cared for cats and my husband uses a wheelchair. We need wide doorways and hard floors through out to accomodate this. Please email email@example.com
Linda, excellent input!
I think what developers can take away from your recommendations is to offer more floor plan flexibility during the pre-sale phase of new projects. While structural load bearing columns cannot be moved, the interior steel stud walls certainly may be adjusted accordingly to accomodate the needs of seniors. Secondly, developers should perhaps offer two styles of kitchen such as they have recently implemented at the Duet based on customer feedback.
One style of kitchen is smaller with a microwave hood fan, while the second option is bigger with a proper hood fan a pantry adjacent to the refrigerator.
Your shower idea is excellent and in my opinion the option of a shower should be standard at all projects. Upgrade to wood floors is an option at most new building and runs in the range of approximately $5 per sq.ft. or $720 for a 12' x 12' bedroom.
Those developers building multi-level condos (lofts) or townhomes should also install electrical plugs at the bottom and top of the stairs for easy chair life installation - a cheap feature; however, can serve of great value down the road.
It would be well thought out if developers had an electical plug in outlet built into the livingroom floor to accomodate electric booster recliner chairs for the elderly and handicapped. I have been noticing here in Victoria that the smart devlopers are FINALLY building food pantries in these shrimpy little condos. The bedroom doorways appear to be a bit wider also but the bathroom doors still need improvement.
I gather most of the conversation is here in Victoria. Although I do not have any disabilities yet - I am dismayed that Victoria condo developers have not catered to what aging seniors could need. Wider dorrways, hard floors, no tub/safe large shower, reinforced bathroom walls. extra food/storage cupboards are certainly a must for the aging babyboomer because we never know what will happen next and then what? Hidsight is forsight. I do hope we see change very soon. Many old apartment rentals could easily be upgraded with these much needed requests to attract the senior.
Lynda, I am interested in your two condo plans. Can you send them to firstname.lastname@example.org? Thanks and I certainly agree!
I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOUR COMMENTS, I ALSO AM INTERESTED IN VIEWING YOUR CONDO PLANS. COULD YOU SEND THEM TO ME email@example.com? LOOKING FORWARD TO CHECKING THEM OUT. THANKS
Great news found in the publication of the Parkinson Society British Columbia Publications VIEWPOINTS online magazine (Fall edition).
"Bylaw will ensure basic accessibility of new housing. Thanks to the proposed bylaw, the City of Vancouver is poised to become the first city in Canada to require housing to be accessible and adaptable".
I feel the City of Victoria should follow suit because of the huge senior community and surplus of aging Baby Boomers on the rise. I also think that the double sided sink is a dinosaur because nobody washes dishes by hand on a regular basis so the rinse sink is not required. Microwaves are on their way out as well. They sure make cooking on a stove dark and their fans are inadequate. Developers need to move with the times and stop installing this stuff.
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