How to Build Homes for the Elderly


In the not-too-distant past, builders, architects and home developers were so focused on maximizing interior and exterior home space to accommodate growing families that their design efforts rarely included the tidy bungalow of 1200 square feet (or less) situated on small, manageable plots of land. Things have changed. A burgeoning senior populace---many of whom have no plans or intentions of moving into extended care facilities---is demanding single-family dwellings that require little upkeep and plenty of maneuverable space. Find out how this trend can be a bonus for your construction efforts.

Things You'll Need

  • Tract of land
  • Architectural plans
  • Construction contractor and subcontractors
  • Required permits and licenses
  • Zoning board approval
  • Land use studies
  • Sales trailer
  • Marketing plan
  • Brochures
  • Visit subdivisions developed exclusively for senior citizens and the elderly. Query residents about what they like and don't like about their living situations. Find out what caused them to select that particular housing development, residence or neighborhood and ask about the amenities that may have sealed the deal (e.g. a community gathering place, recreational facilities or proximity to medical services and shopping).

  • Meet with construction professionals---particularly those who have already undertaken projects designed to suit the unique living needs of the elderly. Touch bases with government entities for suggestions and consultations and get copies of legislation that mandates how senior housing projects are to be built,like Title 24 handicap parking laws, construction licenses and permits, land use restrictions (e.g. flood plains, etc.) and the unique list of yard, easement, walkway and proximity to services requirements often mandated by a state or community.

  • Seek financial underwriting to buy land for your project and/or fund construction. Turn to banks, mortgage lenders and venture capital firms seeking new investments. Bring to meetings documentation that will convince financiers of your project's merit: land surveys, environmental impact studies, architectural renderings, needs assessments (e.g., facts and figures proving area seniors want the type of dwellings you'll build) and local zoning board approval. Have a marketing plan in place to show investors your strategies for attracting elderly homebuyers.

  • Purchase insurance to cover the construction of your homes once your financing comes through. Include local government officials in on the progress of your project so they are able to verify foundation, plumbing, electrical and other house-building stages that require sign-offs by building permit granting entities. Work with your general contractor closely to stay on time and budget, but take a tip from savvy builders: add financial incentives to your contracts for finishing early.

  • Rent a sales trailer and begin taking deposits for houses. Take potential buyers on a tour to point out the neighborhood design and amenities sure to appeal to elderly home shoppers. Hand out brochures touting the features and benefits of your senior housing project. Offer pre-construction discounts to those ready to buy---especially those who have already been qualified by a mortgage lender.

  • Apply psychology when you showcase your under-construction housing project. Tell potential buyers that they can choose from a variety of subdivisions, but yours has been painstakingly designed to keep homeowners active, in the company of contemporaries and living the life they've always dreamed about. Prove it by making each house a joy to maintain and a pleasure to come home to.

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  • Photo Credit Thinkstock photography
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