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Aging Homesteader 2.0 Rehab the House -- How?

 
Posts: 238
Location: New England
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We are doing this. We're in our 60s. Some of what we've done I've talked about. Some of it isn't done or even really planned,yet.

I have talked about/read things in both the Aging Homesteader and the Kitchen Design threads, which is why I've titled this the way I have.

Done/mostly done:

Rocker light switches (bigger switches, easier to use and see, can be backlit)
Lever doorknobs (easier to use, no twisting). Black ones on exterior doors (less cleaning req'd), brushed nickel inside (ditto, compared to the brass we've got otherwise).
Fiberglass ladder instead of aluminum or steel for use inside.
Cut down our 3 x 10' penninsula to 3 x 6' island. Easier to clean.
Put in a low cabinet that fits the short cook.
The minisplit which eliminated wood splitting.
Gravel on the driveway and permeable grids under the cars, filled with gravel.
New mailbox and new location for mailbox, cut down on the snow plowing required.
Easier to use/new to us snow blower.
Metal roofing for the entire house
More food storage

In process:

Moving the Pyrex, ceramic and metal baking pans from the back of the cabinet where they've been stored into a pull out instead.
Remove the retail rack of hobby equipment from living room and build something of wood which fits the space better and is easier to live with.
Permeable pathway grids, filled with stone dust. No hardscape, but much surer footing.

Planned:

Screened in porch
New entry cover which doesn't dump snow on the paths
Better exterior lighting
Knee walls in the attic
Clearing around the house to fit the California wildfire recommendations.
Pie in the Sky:
car port or garage
Solar
Roof water storage

What would you add? Don't see that you think is important? Any/all input would be appreciated!
 
master gardener
Posts: 2424
Location: southern Illinois.
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I bought a 10 ft step ladder with a wide base to use outside. It is more stable.

Consider the location of your laundry. Is it in the basement? The older you get the less sense this makes. If you do, consider moving it or installing a chair lift.

Walk in tub?

At some point decluttering makes sense ..you dont have to look for stuff.

Grab bars. These dont have to be ugly. Well designed towel racks can do the job.

This winter, watch out for icey spots. Then consider how they can be mitigated.  For example, better drainage or a decorative fence that can work as a hand rail.  Or,....

I put up a carport with a 6 ft side overhang that covers 24 ft of sidewalk.
 
master steward
Posts: 4346
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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John mentioned grab bars.

We have "door pulls" on the inside of the storm door. The way our house was made there is a step to reach the porch, then another step into the house with only about two feet in between. It is easy for me to lose my balance here, so I grab the storm door handle to pull me up then the door pull which is on the inside of the storm door.

I bought more "door pulls" to go down our long hallway though the have not gotten installed.
 
Posts: 19
Location: Upstate SC
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 My list to do just before retirement
1) new metal roof
2) replace water heater
3) clean out and have septic and leachfield inspected
4) parts on shelf- heating system repair, well system repair, water heater repair, ect. Ect.

I figure on same for auto and lawnmower/ tractor
 
Jennie Little
Posts: 238
Location: New England
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I forgot the water heater we did that and the sump pump. Not planned.

Old sump inhaled a rock and died. Basement full o water. Needed new pump. Our old plumber was a neighbor, who moved. No listing for him, called another. They gave us 3 options, because they were wicked busy. One was if we bought a new pump at the local hardware store, they could install it on the way home from the other, big job... they left a pump going, came back at lunch time and disconnected it. Came back at the end of the day and put in the new pump, cheap.

The on demand water heater was always flakey. It was acting up. The mfg offered the plumber a deal, about 1/2 price because they had too many of a going out model. He passed along the deal and we took it, so we got a new water heater too.

One of the in process things which needs finishing is the basement insulation.
 
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If you have stairs or steps a ramp prior to needing one is good planning!
A rise of one inch in one foot is easy  wheeling, three inches in one foot strenuous for aging arms, four inches in one foot inviting runaway if the chair is controlled by the elderly or lightweight persons.
Stair lifts can keep a loft area viable.
While other denizens of this forum would disagree, change your bulbs above 5' to LED's while your still safe on a ladder, once changed you *probably* won't need to change them for the rest of your life.
A barrier free entry to a shower (as in wheelchair accessible!) will keep you socially palatable, stainless grab bars in the shower will help you rise and settle onto a plastic bench, non skid appliques on the shower floor  a lifesaver.
If your hallways and doors are broad, a Hoyer lift can make a fall recoverable by a much smaller person easily.
If you are, or are put, on oxygen therapy an "on demand" regulator will stretch your oxy supply three times as far as a standard regulator. if it turns out you need it get an oxygen concentrator as quickly as possible. A portable unit can go a long ways towards staving off depression.
Vitamin D as well as whole spectrum lighting will help anyone overcome SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) a lack of sun and the same damn scenery every day (let alone the mind numbing idiocy of television) on top of creeping infirmity will bring the most resolute character into self doubt.....activity (no matter how limited) is the single best answer to maintain hope, or at least sanguinity.
While everyone around you will be urging you to retire and not do anything (its the old Union program...nobody moves and nobody gets hurt!) if you join into that program you will regret it in lost muscle tone within days.
Low impact exercise (think stretch bands) will help keep tone, an area devoted to it even better because irritation at setup and break down has many people skipping even basic maintenance.

Install wireless doorbells in the upstairs downstairs, shop, and any outbuilding / garden area
( I used these)
https://www.google.com/aclk?sa=L&ai=DChcSEwiaqbrx5fvsAhUJicgKHYvnAc4YABB7GgJxdQ&sig=AOD64_38KEu-9rIxCS0LoojLTBm9hebFYQ&ctype=5&q=&ved=0ahUKEwil37Px5fvsAhWFiK0KHf1NCe4QwzwI7gM&adurl=
Put buttons at front and rear doors one next to the shower, one next to the phone, and get a couple to carry in your pockets. You can program them for different ring tones for the front door, rear door, a different tone for "the phone is for you" and a different tone for "Panic! come help me!!"
If a loved one lives next door you can get boosters so the "Panic! come help me!" will ring at their house too.
A "help I've fallen and can't reach my beer" system is good too, but....has a monthly cost, and a visit from emergency services,
Too many false alarms will result in a case worker herding you into a rest home....

On the monetary scene:
Establish "pay on death" if you have independent accounts.
If any real property is in play put it in an irrevocable trust with a trusted third party as administrator, it has potential to keep your end of life medical bills from swallowing everything.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1666
Location: RRV of da Nort
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It may be that most of the Permies here occupy single-floor dwellings.  For those like us who were not really thinking about old age when we purchased that 2-story farm-house, how many are adding or refurbing main floor space for later-life living?
 
Jennie Little
Posts: 238
Location: New England
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Well, we are. Our bedroom and bath and office are upstairs. DH broke his leg last year and made it obvious we needed a plan to do something else! We’re doing planning now. Which is at least part of why I started this thread, know about AARP#s fit living guide, etc.

We’re facing having to do this perhaps without a lot of $ too, as retirement is also looming.

Not the best way to plan anything, eh?
 
John F Dean
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Posts: 2424
Location: southern Illinois.
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Hi Jennie,

If you are remodeling, keep your doorways at 36 inches .... or wider.  I know the guidelines allow for somewhat more narrow doorways ... for wheelchairs.  Now consider emergency equipment.  Paramedics will appreciate the wider doors. A friend of mine, who had $$$, built an underground home with 42 inch doors after speaking with the local ambulance service.

Also consider evacuation routes. Some nice French doors out of your bedroom onto a patio serves more purpose than just being pretty.

Finally, the bathroom is where most heart attacks take place...it is also often  the room with the most narrow doors. And, more often than not, that door opens into the bathroom.  Therefore, if someone falls and blocks the door .....

Yes, all of the above can be worked around by emergency personnel, but that takes added time that you may not have.
 
gardener
Posts: 3718
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
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John F Dean write:

And, more often than not, that door opens into the bathroom.

I have memories as a child of my dad removing a bathroom door and re-hanging it to open outward into the bedroom. I suppose there are reasons for the standard of "opens inward", but I can recall several situations where "opens outward" would have been more convenient.
 
Bill Haynes
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After several instances of a poorly trained grandchild locking doors cause it was "funny" I ensured nothing  could be locked, and what had to be locked (poison cabinet, gun safe, cookie drawer!,) had deadbolts rather than handles. Dead bolts are wonderful in they give no purchase to someone trying to defeat the door, you have to break out implements of destruction to overcome them.
Its a no brainer to spend top dollar on locks, a cheap lock can be defeated by an ambitious eight year old in minutes!
Doors to bathrooms, and home entry doors swing inward, because its imagined that you'll be in a greater hurry to get in than out, a pocket door is a best compromise and (usually) the latches on pocket doors are easily overcome. Pocket doors make it difficult for electrical boxes and heavy loads to be hung on their exterior though.
 
Posts: 46
Location: Rural North Texas
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One thing no one mentioned that I caught is making sure your ALL of your doorways are wide enough to accommodate a wheel chair without barking your knuckles getting through it.  Its about 32 to 36 inches, depending on the width of the chair.  This is a huge issue when your wheel chair won't fit through the bathroom door.    Make sure you have enough clearance around furniture, etc. to also get to the facilities for bathing and toilet as well as making sure your kitchen can accommodate a wheel chair.  Top opening fridges and chest freezers are unusable by someone in  a chair.  Food does not help if you can't get to it.  Put your dish washer up off the floor so you don't fall into from your wheel chair.  Bring the microwave down to be reached from a chair.  Install those wire pull out racks in your cabinets so that you can actually reach things without falling in from your chair.  Get front loading washing machines and dryers and get the pedestals that they sit on to bring them up to a height you can use with falling out of the chair.  I broke both legs once and spent 6 months in a chair.  

Make sure that even if no one is home that you can get your wheelchair out into the yard unassisted in the event of something like a fire.
 
pollinator
Posts: 438
Location: North central Ontario
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As a journeyman carpenter a builder and a renovator here are a few I would want to think of:
Electrical
Back up power. Preferably solar of course but you can start by having an electrician in to install a manual backup generator panel and transfer over all the critical house loads that can keep you up and running. From there you can have a simple generator plug outside, a full autostart genny if you prefer or down the road a solar array, batteries and an inverter to run the loads on the backup panel. It's also a great time to have him look at worn breakers, worn out outlets, fixtures etc...
Insulation: caulking around window trim inside and out.,
Upgrading the windows if drafty. Seals around doors. Check the attic for insulation. Replace all vents through the building if worn, caulk all penetrations. Figure out if there are rooms that can be closed off if not in use and close off their heat vents or lower thermostats.

Just the top of my head stuff. At 51 I'm not quite there yet. We are building a new house right now and will incorporate all that and more.
Cheers,  David Baillie
 
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