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Atlanta Area Homebuilder's Sales Up 10% YOY

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Atlanta Area Homebuilder's Sales Up 10% YOY

Old 05-03-2007, 12:06 PM
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Default Atlanta Area Homebuilder's Sales Up 10% YOY

For boomers, the house of the future
By JUNE FLETCHER, The Wall Street Journal
Friday, April 27, 2007

Universal design may actually be getting universal.
Homebuilders have long given lip service to designing houses that accommodate people of all ages and physical abilities, but few companies actually built them. Now, though, the idea is gaining traction. Big builders such as K. Hovnanian (NYSE: HOV) on the East Coast and Standard Pacific (NYSE: SPF) on the West are touting wheelchair-friendly doorways, shelves and countertops that require less bending and reaching, and master suites on the first floor. And while furniture and housewares manufacturers have already discovered the market for remote-control recliners and ergonomic potato peelers, major appliance manufacturers are now stepping in, with the likes of General Electric (NYSE: GE), Delta and Jacuzzi offering new appliances and fixtures for homeowners with physical limitations.
Traditionally, the market for these products has been the elderly and handicapped, but builders and manufacturers see a bigger prize: middle-aged homeowners who don't need them yet. The beleaguered housing industry is hoping it can attract these buyers with more stylish, less institutional fare such as "smart" kitchen faucets and dishwashers and walk-in spas with "chromatherapy mood lighting."
Garry and Kathleen Houghton are in their 50s and aren't disabled. Still, the $944,000 Craftsman-style home they're building in Sisters, Ore., will be a model of accessibility. The three-bedroom house will be all on one level. Wide doorways will accommodate wheelchairs, as will the tile and wood flooring used instead of carpeting. Oversized showers in each of the three bathrooms will have built-in seats, and in the kitchen, to cut down on back-straining bending and reaching, the oven will have a door that swings open to the side and there'll be no hard-to-get-at upper cabinets.
"We want to be prepared," says Kathleen Houghton, a retired nurse. The Houghtons say they're also creating a haven for their elderly parents, currently living on their own but in declining health.
Although no one tracks the number of homes built with accessibility in mind, new demonstration houses across the country reflect a groundswell of interest. In December, Centex Homes (NYSE: CTX) built a 4,000-square-foot model home in Bristow, Va., with gently sloping sidewalks, lower cabinets for the wheelchair-bound, and a staircase with contrasting-color wood for the sight-impaired. The model has attracted thousands of visitors amid a slow local market, the company says. The two official show houses at February's International Builders Show in Orlando, Fla., featured elevators, wide hallways and shower stalls, and "rocker" light switches easily operated by arthritic hands. And in Omaha, Neb., Curt Hofer Construction has broken ground on a "barrier-free" house that will have lowered closet rods, high electrical sockets and a ramp leading up to stadium-style seating in the media room. The 4,300-square-foot home will open to the public in July and cost $700,000.
Builders and architects who already incorporate accessible design into their projects say demand is growing. McLean, Va., architect William Devereaux says about a third of the 100 large production-home builders he works with nationwide now ask him to include features like the ones he included in the Bristow demonstration house. "Five years ago, no one did," he says. Builder Roy Wendt says sales of his three- and four-bedroom ranch-style homes in the Atlanta area were up 10 percent last year over the year before. Marketed mostly to able-bodied boomers, the homes have higher toilets, pull-out trash containers and more drawers than doors in kitchen cabinets. Wendt started specializing in accessibility seven years ago after two wheelchair-bound visitors couldn't get in the front door of one of his models.
Designers say that installing accessibility features like wider doorways can add as much as 20 percent to the price of a home if it's done as a retrofit, although the cost is negligible if the features are included in the plans for a new house. And many of the new offerings are in the marble-countertop and Tuscan-tile price range. At the International Builders Show, Delta showed a $1,064 faucet that can be turned on and off by tapping it or by waving hands past a sensor. Jacuzzi prominently featured its $10,600 Finestra Therapy Bath, a bubbling spa with a chair-high seat that is entered via a waist-high door. And Gaggenau introduced a $3,300 over-the-range convection oven with a floor that drops down to countertop height at the touch of a button so it can be loaded.
The term "universal design" was coined about two decades ago by the late Ron Mace, an architect who spent most of his life in a wheelchair and who established what is now known as the Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University. As Mace explained it, universal design would make living spaces fully functional for everyone, not just the disabled. While the idea met with much praise at the time, it didn't catch fire. Proponents soon learned that even things as obviously useful as grab bars in the shower were a turnoff to consumers because they suggested frailty and decline. Not only that: "They were ugly," says Dick Duncan, a spokesman for the center.
Indeed, the concept as it is known today might better be identified as "universal-design lite." Full access is no longer the goal and features that obviously point to disability are left out unless customers request them -- and they usually don't until they actually need them. "I even had trouble convincing a couple in their 80s to put in grab bars," says Vince Butler, a Clifton, Va., remodeler, who retrofits homes for accessibility.
But since one in three Americans will be over 50 by the year 2010, consumers' acceptance is probably inevitable. Marc Hottenroth, leader of industrial design for GE Consumer & Industrial, says aging consumers in hundreds of recent focus groups and in-home observations have expressed frustration with home appliances that require so much bending and reaching. As a result, the company recently rolled out a refrigerator with French doors that is more accessible for people with walkers, front-loading washers and dryers that sit on pedestals for ease of loading, and a "smart" dishwasher that dispenses liquid detergent from a bottle so users won't have to bend down to add soap each time.
A changing legal landscape is encouraging builders to take accessibility seriously. Although the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 requires public places to be barrier-free, no such federal law applies to single-family homes. But 14 states and numerous localities have enacted a patchwork of laws that either mandate builders to make homes more accessible or offer tax credits or other incentives for doing so. Almost two-thirds were passed within the past five years, and nine more states have initiatives pending.
More accessible public spaces -- sidewalk curb cuts, hands-free faucets -- have also changed expectations, says California remodeler Iris Harrell. "People just assume that they'll be able to go anywhere, uninterrupted," Harrell says. The designer soon plans to install an elevator in her own house and to replace three steps with a ramp. She and her partner, both 60, want to make sure they can stay there long after they retire; the changes will also make visits easier for Harrell's brother, recently wheelchair-bound after several surgeries.
Putting in features that you don't really need can have unintended consequences, says Devereaux. Stoves with knobs in front can be helpful for arthritic fingers but a danger to curious toddlers unless there is a locking mechanism. Curbless entry doors and showers can leak. And wider hallways, bathrooms and kitchens may mean smaller bedrooms, dining areas and living rooms.
Anne-Marie and Bill Peters know all about the downsides. Four years ago, they paid $275,000 for a four-bedroom house in Chapel Hill, N.C., with features they loved, including an automated revolving rack in the closet, and shower nozzles set at different heights. But the home's tall countertops were too high for visiting children. And the kitchen cabinet on casters was annoying: Meant to slide out so a wheelchair-bound person could work at the countertop, the cabinet rolled around and got jammed whenever someone tried to open its door. "It drove me crazy," says Anne-Marie Peters, a homemaker. They eventually hired a handyman to install slide-in shelves instead.
Need has a way of turning skeptics into converts, however. When she bought a new home in Atlanta for $250,000, Rhonda Buckley wasn't particularly impressed with the oversize shower, the lever door handles and the fact that there were no steps to the front door. In fact, the 49-year-old marketing manager was more worried that such things would make her seem over-the-hill.
Then she sprained her ankle. The functional benefits of her home became so clear that she recently convinced her elderly parents to buy a similar house down the street. "I never plan to move," says Buckley. "As I get older, this house will be there for me."

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Old 05-03-2007, 12:59 PM
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Default Re: Atlanta Area Homebuilder's Sales Up 10% YOY

Great! Now the govt. is going to tell us what kind of houses we can build.
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Old 05-03-2007, 01:06 PM
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Default Re: Atlanta Area Homebuilder's Sales Up 10% YOY

The Atlanta market as a whole is not up at all but way way down, but there is still a niche market for the homes like the ones above. Those are people who are not buying a home as a investment (to make money) but are people who plan on living in the home for the rest of their lives, or most of it. Unfortunately it's a small niche. It is highly probable that those types of homes are up in sales since a couple of years ago, no one was building them at all. With the market like it is, builders are turning to niche's which with the number of builders in Atlanta, will be flooded in no time at all. But hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.
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Old 05-03-2007, 01:42 PM
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Default Re: Atlanta Area Homebuilder's Sales Up 10% YOY

MAXIMUM B - 5/3/2007 11:59 AM

Great! Now the govt. is going to tell us what kind of houses we can build.
Pfffffft! The Government has left gaping holes in the Fair Housing Act. A huge and ever-growing market segment is telling the homebuilders what they can most readily sell.
Most of the housing in this Country is designed for a narrow segment of the population -- tall, able-bodied adults. A few design differences can make a house much more comfortable and functional for much more of the population without diminishing its appeal or functionality for anyone.

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Old 05-03-2007, 03:50 PM
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Default Re: Atlanta Area Homebuilder's Sales Up 10% YOY

Fine, let it be dictated by the market and not the govt.
"A huge ever growing market segment...." ? What %? Tall able-bodied adults a narrow segment?
And as I said, let the market comand not the gov.
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Old 05-03-2007, 06:58 PM
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Default Re: Atlanta Area Homebuilder's Sales Up 10% YOY

If you have need for a special needs type house then build one. As long as I am of the straight and not so tall adult group I can't see paying a gajillion dollars for some sort of faucet.

And the goverment has been telling us what we can or can not build for years.
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Old 05-06-2007, 11:31 AM
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Default RE: Atlanta Area Homebuilder's Sales Up 10% YOY

Universal design works for all
Array of products make home safer, more accessible for every age

By Ann Tatko-Peterson
CONTRA COSTA TIMES
Contra Costa Times

Article Launched:04/28/2007 03:11:11 AM PDT

MARGIE VINSON saw a need for her invention long before "universal design" found a niche in home remodeling.
A longtime nurse, Vinson of Concord served three years in the Army Nurse Corps. She later owned and operated a pain relief clinic for nine years and supervised an adult acute medical and minor surgery care clinic for 10 years. She saw firsthand the frustration as disabled, injured and moderately hindered patients struggled to complete everyday tasks.
Then in the early 1990s, Vinson landed in a full-body cast after a mentally ill patient attacked her.
"I was so badly injured," she says, "it was either do drugs or do an idea."
In October 1993, she patented a motorized hardware package, called the "Margie Pack," that can raise or lower a wood or metal cabinet with the push of a button. The Cabinet Express automated cabinet is 141/2 inches deep inside, has three adjustable shelves, can hold up to 300 pounds and costs about $2,550 (wood) to $3,100 (metal).
Plugged into a standard electrical outlet, the 42-by-30-inch cabinet slides out and down steel brackets, making the top shelf accessible even to children and people in wheelchairs.
"This is what universal design is all about," says Barbara Pisching, a residential remodel consultant who owns Home Remodel Resource in Concord. "You want a cabinet that is accessible to everyone. Elements such as these make a home work for all ages, everyone across the board -- children, working adults, the elderly."
Once known as "handicap accessible" or "aging in place," universal design has become the more applicable term. It addresses an array of accessibility and limitation issues, from cabinets, drawers, counters, appliances and adequate lighting to doorway openings, flooring, ramps and grab bars.
It also applies to a broad range of people: those who want to age in place, who have young children, who are taller or shorter than average and who use wheelchairs, walkers or canes.
About 49 million Americans have some type of disability, notes the National Association of Home Builders research center. And according to a report by the Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University, 70 to 80 million Americans were born between 1946 and 1964. Many of those baby boomers are nearing retirement.
Some are opting for multigenerational living, heightening the need for universal design remodeling.
"They don't want to pay $6,000 a month to live in some assisted living facility," Pisching says. "They would rather pool their money with their children and live with them. But they need a home that is designed to accommodate their accessibility issues."
With people also living longer, many are choosing to stay in their own homes. Because they often have equity in their homes, they have resources to modify the house to address their changing needs, says Greg Brumley, a contractor with Paul Davis Restoration & Remodeling in Concord.
Brumley is a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS). He has training in building and remodeling components that make the home friendly to people who have mobility issues, illnesses or chronic ailments, such as arthritis.
Brumley has seen a more general appeal in universal design among his clients. "It's not just for people that have a physical disability or handicap," he says. "These universal design principles are becoming more and more prevalent. Some people really need them and some people don't necessarily need them yet, but it doesn't hurt to have them."
While some universal design features are labeled as "essential" or "required," what owners choose to include depends on their own individual needs, the experts say.
"Some people are just in need of something as simple as grab bars in a shower," Brumley says, "and other people might have a physical disability and need a lot of renovations in their house. Really, the emphasis is on making the home more accessible and safer for people."

Here, our participating experts offer a few suggestions, ideas and available products for bringing universal design into the home.

Steps, stairs and single stories
One-story living space: In multiple-story houses, this means a place to eat, one full bathroom and one bedroom or sleeping area on the lowest level.
"One of the biggest accessibility issues is stairs," Pisching says. "Single-story homes are most ideal for universal design, but really all you need is a living space on the first floor."
No-step entrance: At least one entrance into the home must be free of steps or stairs. Ideally, a flush entry works best to eliminate tripping hazards and provide smooth access for those using wheelchairs, walkers or canes. When that is not possible, the entrance should have a ramp, with no greater than a 1-inch slope for every 12 inches of length.
"All ramps also need railings," Pisching says. "They're not optional. They provide a measure of safety."
The no-step entrance doesn't need to be the front door, either. A gently sloping ramp can wrap a wooden deck leading to a back door with a smooth threshold.
A little lift: When steps and stairs are unavoidable, Brumley suggests turning to technology. Although not common, elevators can be installed in single-family homes. An electric chair also can be mounted to wide indoor or outdoor stairs.
"People who live on a hillside might have a level house once they get inside," Brumley says. "The problem may be climbing or descending a couple sets of stairs to get inside their home. That's where an electric chair can help."
Visible guides: For those physically able to climb stairs, small guide lights on each step help make them more visible. Less expensive alternatives include applying reflective tape or color contrast between treads and risers, as well as the top and bottom steps.

Floors and doors
Floors: Slip-resistant surfaces are recommended, but that doesn't mean all carpets get a stamp of approval. Carpets should be low pile (less than a half-inch) and high density to ease mobility, especially for those using wheelchairs, walkers or canes.
Color contrast also helps indicate level changes for steps up or down between rooms.
Doorways: These should be 32 to 36 inches wide for wheelchair-accessibility. Adjoining hallways should stretch 36 to 42 inches wide.
Thresholds: These work best if flush. When not possible, the exterior threshold should rise no more than half an inch, while the interior is a quarter-inch. Both should be beveled.
Handles: Levers are preferred to standard doorknobs, which require more grip and range of motion.
"These are very simple alternatives and not necessarily more expensive (than knobs)," Brumley says. "Lever handles aren't something you really think about until you have arthritis in your hand and struggle to work a knob."
They are also more convenient for children with small hands.

Entry
In addition to no steps, a few other considerations improve access to the home.
Covered entryway: Rain can make porches and stoops slippery. Covers can be in the form of a roof or awning.
Sensor lighting: This light is triggered by motion, meaning it automatically shuts off when no one is present. In the absence of sensor lighting, a lit doorbell can help guests visiting after dark.
Safety measure: Side windows or high and low peephole viewers allow people of varying heights, including children, to see who is at the door before opening it.

Cabinets
We've already introduced you to the automated cabinet by Cabinet Express. Here are a few other options in cabinetry.
Pull-down shelves: If automated exceeds your budget, some pull-down shelf systems feature grab bars to manually draw shelves out and down for easy access. These start at $500. Some hardware packages install directly into your existing cabinet frame.
Pull-out shelves: These help see what is stored inside high and low cabinets.
Bob Skelton, owner of a Pull-Out Shelf Company franchise, has serviced Alameda and Contra Costa counties for 10 years. His shelves come in various sizes and depths and are installed on patented brackets and slides inside existing cabinets. Each shelf holds up to 100 pounds. Prices average about $250 per shelf, including installation, Skelton says.
"I handle all the installation myself," he adds. "It's important that the customers have easy access -- that's why they're buying the system -- so I ask what they're putting in the cabinets and adjust the shelves to meet those needs."
Lazy Susan: Installed in deep-set corner cabinets, these help make stored items more easily accessible.
Varying heights: Staggering cabinets in multigenerational homes can make at least one cabinet accessible to every occupant. "This technique works especially well when you have people standing at various heights," Pisching says. "This helps reduce bending and the need for step stools."

Passport Series: KraftMaid Cabinetry makes this line, which is certified for universal design by the Institute for Technology Development. This series includes a raised dishwasher enclosure, a sink base that conceals the plumbing but also leaves a cutout opening for wheelchair access, 321/2-inch-high cabinets and cooktops that can be installed at various heights.
GE products: Some of the most ingenious options tailored for universal design include an adjustable sink that raises and lowers with the push of a button, swivel doors on a cabinet beneath a cooktop that folds out to create leg room underneath for those who sit when cooking, and a rolling cart that stores under an open counter and can be used as a movable food prep space.

Counters
Varying heights: Kitchens should include at least one counter at each of the heights found in universal design: 42-45 inches for standing, 36 inches for standard and 30 to 32 inches for seated and children.
Shallow depth: Reaching the back of a counter is easier when it is only 16 to 18 inches deep, instead of the standard 25 inches in kitchens and 20 in bathrooms.
Heat-proof: Granite, quartz and stainless steel are surfaces resistant to heat. These types of counters are a must near stoves and ovens for easy transfer of hot food.
Also to help with food transfer, have a pull-out counter installed beneath a raised wall oven.
In general: Sharp corners are out because of safety hazards. Raised edges are in to help prevent spills and aid in visibility by providing contrast.

Appliances
Refrigerators: Ones with bottom freezers or side-by-side provide the best access for those with height limitations. Convenience options include spill-proof and slide-out shelves. Ice and water dispensers in the door also provide improved accessibility for children and wheelchair-using individuals.
Cooktops: To promote safety, install gas cooktops with front controls -- to reduce reaching across burners -- and smooth ceramic or continuous grates that allow for easier sliding of pans.
Ovens: These should be installed with one rack level to an adjacent counter for easing the removal of hot pans. Self-cleaning is a must. And some ovens now feature side-hinged doors that open like microwaves to provide more direct removal of hot dishes.

Washers and dryers: Front-loading machines placed on a riser eliminate bending and lifting and provide access to those who use wheelchairs.
Pisching also recommends installing a washer and dryer on the upper level of two-story homes to eliminate lugging laundry up and down the stairs.

Tubs and showers
Shower emphasis: Pisching notes that universal design emphasizes replacing standard wall bathtubs with showers. They should be flat to the floor, with a slight slope to a center drain, she adds, for maximum accessibility.
Some showers with a half- to 1-inch threshold feature conversion capabilities. Later, if needed, an owner can add a ramp to these showers for wheelchair access.
Shower seat: This can be practical for older residents, while still serving as a convenience for others in the home. "When you're younger, you don't need it," Brumley says, "but it's still nice to be able to sit down in the shower and put your head back."
Sunken tubs: These sit flush to the floor, with steps that lower into it. (Remember to include rails or a grab bar for safety.)
Walk-in tubs: Having the standard tub-wall look doesn't mean you have to climb over those walls. These feature a door in the wall that allows you to step into the tub. The tub isn't filled with water until the door closes, resealing the tub. "They kind of look like you're sitting down in a convertible car or something," Brumley says with a chuckle.
Grab bars: A necessity for those aging in place doesn't mean sacrificing aesthetics.
"Twenty or 25 years ago, about the only grab bars you could find was the type you see in a public restroom," Brumley says. "Now you can get all sorts of colors, styles and finishes. People can have the best of both worlds -- a really beautiful room that is more functional as they age."
Faucets: Lever handles work best here, too. Pedal-controlled also eliminates grip issues, but is not user-friendly for wheelchair-using individuals.
Faucets also should have thermostatic or anti-scald controls to protect both children and senior citizens.

Lighting
Lighting in general: Ceiling fixtures are out and wall sconces are in, Pisching says. "The last thing you want is someone climbing on a step stool to change a light bulb," she says.
Light switch: The entrance of every room and hallway should have one, placed no higher than 48 inches from the floor. (Electric outlets are best placed 15 inches from the floor.)
Rocker or touch-light switches are easier to use because they are larger and simpler to flip than standard switches.
Kitchen lighting: Lights can be added inside and underneath cabinets to improve visibility.
"Under-cabinet lighting illuminates the countertop and eliminates some shadows," Brumley says. "They can be helpful to someone who is trying to read a cookbook or prepare a meal."

Ann Tatko-Peterson is a Times feature writer. Reach her at atatko@cctimes.com or 925-952-2614.

.....


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Old 05-06-2007, 12:15 PM
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Default RE: Atlanta Area Homebuilder's Sales Up 10% YOY

Helping disabled live freely
TheStar.com - Athome - Helping disabled live freely

Sandra Thompson wanted a house to accommodate her disability and allow full independence

May 05, 2007
Tracy Hanes
Toronto Star

By the time Sandra Thompson arrived at Howard Sher's office last year, her patience was wearing thin.
The Bluevale, Ont., woman had spent three years looking for her dream home, to no avail. Thompson, 38, who has been in a wheelchair since she contracted spinal meningitis at age 4, wanted a house to accommodate her disability and allow her full independence. But she couldn't find suitable housing; the cost of retrofitting a resale home was excessive and some new home builders were reluctant to build one for her.
"She presented herself as a very frustrated home-buying prospect who outlined how hard it was to get her needs met," recalls Sher, executive vice-president of Quality Homes.
Quality produces factory-built houses at its Kenilworth site, north of Guelph, and has models and sales offices in Grimsby and Cookstown. But unlike some of the others Thompson approached, Sher was a willing listener.
"About 10 minutes into the conversation, he said, `I don't know how we cannot do this,'" Thompson recalls.
The gist of that conversation came to fruition in mid-April at Quality's Kenilworth site with the launch of a new 3,000-square-foot model home showcasing Liberty Series features – which allow barrier-free living and can be incorporated into any Quality floor plan.
Thompson has been instrumental in the development of the model and its features, doing research on products, making suggestions and training Quality staff on how to deal with disabled clients, while she continued to work full-time at her job with the Commissioner/Medical Officer of Health for Waterloo Region.
"Sandra has been really stellar in showing us the light," Sher says. "I think we're blazing a new trail here."
While some builders have provided aging-in-place and accessibility features at projects catering to the retiree market, most production builders don't offer them. (Aging in place refers to allowing people to continue to live in their homes safely and independently as they grow older and their physical abilities or health decline.)
However, a few builders – including Quality, Monarch and RegalCraft Homes – are taking the initiative. Two months ago, Monarch started making the features available for selected home designs at all of its GTA sites. RegalCraft will also facilitate accessibility at its projects, such as Wismer Commons in Markham, as it has done for Silvana Helliwell, 43. She has muscular dystrophy and has been in a wheelchair since age 16.
Quality's model Graystone estate home is outfitted with an extensive range of barrier-free features, including wider doorways, lowered thresholds, lowered and two-tiered counters, overhead cupboards with a motorized mechanism which lowers them, wheel-in stove, built-in wall oven and microwave, grab bars, wheel-in shower, raised sink and tub, lower light switches and more.
"We were already catering to this market since the company's inception, but we'd never packaged or labelled it before and we didn't realize how many homes we had done with some of these features until we sat down and looked at the numbers," Sher says. "Empty nesters who are building a new home don't want to move in five or 10 years if they become ill or disabled. And the market is broad, because there are able-bodied people out there who are taking care of people with disabilities who need homes like this."
Sher says the extra cost of many of the features is minimal – for example, he says it's not difficult to incorporate wider hallways and doors or allow for lower light switches or built-in ovens in the planning stage. As well, thermostats and levered door handles and faucets don't add cost.
The features that are costly are the raising and lowering mechanisms inside upper cabinets, wheel-in showers, walk-in tubs and elevators and lifts.
Sher purposely chose a large estate model to highlight the features because he wanted "to make sure there were no misconceptions about this segment of the home-buying public."
What Sher is referring to is something Thompson has encountered in real life – the assumption that disabled people don't have the financial means to own a home or that the houses they buy compromise on appeal or size.
"I've been asked how someone in a wheelchair can afford a house," Thompson recalls. "Well, I can. And this model will show that a new house can incorporate features for the disabled without having to compromise on style or design. It's stunning."
Now that she's helped Quality launch the Liberty Series, Thompson will concentrate on finalizing the design for her own home, to be built on a cul-de-sac lot in Listowel.
When she was a child, her father was able to renovate the family home for accessibility, but Thompson says there were still issues, such as lack of turning radius in the bathroom and a kitchen not ideally suited to a disabled person. Even when she lived in rental properties touted as "accessible," she faced similar problems.
Thompson, who has a passion for cooking and entertaining, says the kitchen in her 1,800-square-foot home will be her big splurge. She'll also have wide doorways and hallways, lower thresholds and a ramp from the garage to the house.
One bathroom will be built to regular standards, while her ensuite will have a ceramic wheel-in shower, raised tub at the same height as her wheelchair seat with a 30.5 centimetres (12-inch) platform all around, raised toilet and wheel-under sink.
Floors will be laminate and ceramic to allow her wheelchair to roll easily; she will also have extra support put in walls to accommodate a future wheelchair lift to the full basement. Upgrades just for show include granite kitchen countertops and a cathedral ceiling in the open-concept great room.
Now at all Monarch sales offices in the GTA, disabled buyers or those who want to add aging-in-place features can choose from a comprehensive menu of features and get pricing on the spot. A select number of floor plans will be able to be adapted for accessibility; Monarch vice-president of low-rise Brian Johnston says not every new Monarch home is suitable – for instance, it could be difficult to provide access at grade level on some lots and structural issues may prevent adding the features in some designs.
Johnston says the initiative came about mainly as a result of inquiries the company was getting at its Penryn Park active adult community in Port Hope.
"There are a lot of older buyers there or empty nesters who were thinking ahead to the future," says Johnston. "We'd done it before on an ad hoc basis, but it was onerous for buyers to go through the process. This is more about responding to their needs and wants and standardizing the process. We don't perceive this as a marketing thing, but a way to be socially responsible."
The idea was the brainchild of Michael LaPlante, project manager for Penryn Park and operations manager, low-rise, for Monarch.
He says previously when a potential buyer inquired about barrier-free features, it would take a lot of time to get pricing on products or from trades, but now "we have all pricing upfront" so they can respond quickly to such queries.
"We used to get about five or six inquiries a year and it represented less than 1 per cent of our sales, but part of it was that handicapped people felt production builders weren't receptive to this," says LaPlante.
For years, Silvana Helliwell, who has spinal muscular atrophy, and her husband, David, lived in a tiny 900-square-foot home in Markham. But as the family expanded to two sons, quarters got cramped. About half a dozen years ago, Helliwell gave a production builder a deposit to build a new home, but found him reluctant to make changes she required and the cost of some features was excessive, so the deal was called off, she says.
In 2004, she went to the RegalCraft sales office for Wismer Commons and was "shocked" to see features such as an optional elevator were offered in their homes.
The Sharma family, which owns RegalCraft, not only were receptive to Helliwell's wishes, "they almost adopted me," she says.
Renka Sharma came to the house with samples for Helliwell to choose her finishes and the company called her when each stage of the home was completed, so her husband David could videotape it and show her.
"I was so involved in the process, it was like I was wearing a hard hat and part of the contractor's team," she says. "The Sharmas are real heroes ... they made my dreams come true."
The two-storey, 3,800-square-foot house has an elevator, wide doorways and hallways, hardwood floors throughout and "I can go into every nook and cranny in this house. It's totally accessible," Helliwell says. Although the island has been adapted so Helliwell can eat there, the kitchen is a standard one, as her muscular strength is too weak for her to cook.
A special hydraulic ceiling Hoyer lift system outfitted with a sling can lift her to her canopy bed; another carries her to the Jacuzzi tub, toilet or shower.
If it's sold in future, features such as the lift system can easily be removed, said Helliwell. She's not the only one in the neighbourhood interested in accessibility, she points out: Four other homes on her street have also been outfitted with service elevators.

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Old 05-06-2007, 02:45 PM
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Default RE: Atlanta Area Homebuilder's Sales Up 10% YOY

A House For All Ages
by Lew Sichelman

At first glance, the house at 16218 Pennsbury Drive in Bowie, Md., seems unremarkable. In fact, the neighbors are surprised at just how well it fits into this bedroom community about 20 miles due east from the Nation's Capital.
But a closer look reveals some surprising and unusual details. Handrails disguised as chair molding, for example. Contrasting boarders in flooring and around countertops. A microwave that's reachable from a seated position. A flush doorway with no step-up. Stair rails you can actually latch on to.
Welcome to the house for all ages. But more important, a 1,900-square-foot home for folks who are moving through the later stages of life and would rather stay put than move to another place better designed and equipped to handle the infirmities that are part and parcel to old age.
It's called the "LifeWise House," and it's been built by the NAHB Research Center to show home builders they don't have to go to great lengths - or great expense - to erect houses their owners can remain in for their entire lives.
"Not everything in the house is 100 percent accessible," says Charlotte Wade, a senior research analyst at the Research Center. "But it's pretty much totally adjustable so someone can live with it as their conditions change." Which is, of course, what most people say they want.
Despite the rush of seniors leaving the harsh winters behind for the warmer climes of Florida, Arizona, Southern California and places in between, survey after study finds that the vast majority of people 90 percent of persons age 65 or older, according to the latest AARP figures would prefer to remain in their current residences for as long as possible.
Unfortunately, those who develop a disability that limits their daily activities will find it difficult, if not impossible, to do that because most houses being built today are not designed or equipped to handle the inevitable changes in people's physical abilities.
According to the Census Bureau, more than half of all seniors - 17.5 million people - suffer a substantial limitation in a major life activity. And 12 million of them say their problems are severe.
Here's an idea of what they are going through, and what the rest of us can expect as we age:
10 million seniors (31.4 percent of the total) report difficulty using stairs, yet you have to step up to enter most houses, and there often are no bedrooms or rooms that can be converted to bedrooms on the main entry floor.
1.2 million (3.8 percent) use a wheelchair, but standard doorways and hallways are not wide enough to accommodate them.
3 million (9.4 percent) have a tough time grasping objects, yet hand rails are more decorative than utilitarian, and grab bars or reinforced walls to hold them are practically non-existent.
7 million (22 percent) have vision problems, 2..8 million (8.8 percent) have trouble bathing, 1.4 million (4.3 percent) find it difficult to use the toilet, and 2.7 million (8.4 percent) have difficulty preparing meals.
The LifeWise house is not a senior's house, at least not per se. In fact, it's 1«-story layout is not a traditional senior's design. But it is senior-friendly, and it is just what the doctor ordered, says Terre Belt, acting president of the Research Center a place that facilitates the ability of older adults "to live comfortably, safely and independently in their homes as they age."
William Stothers, deputy director for the Center for an Accessible Society in San Diego, is enouraged, too. "Hopefully," he says, "builders will begin to see this as a market whose time has come."
They'd have to have vision problems of their own not too. After all, over the next two decades, the number of persons 65 or older will increase by more than 50 percent, rising from 35 million in 2000 to 54 million by 2020.
Historically, builders haven't perceived a need for even the basic tenants of accessibility an entrance without a step, at least one accessible bathroom on the first floor and doorways that are 32 inches clear width on the main living level. In fact, Stothers claims, builders have been pretty much opposed to universal design, or "visitability," as the movement is becoming known, arguing that the market doesn't want it.
But Concrete Change, a Decatur, Ga.-based group dedicated to making all homes barrier-free, points out in its literature that the people who need these features "often have their need emerge suddenly after an illness or injury and are in no position to advocate for their needs on the market."
Even when buyers request accessibility features, the group maintains, they often are told no or charged substantial sums.
Concrete Change believes legislation is necessary to successfully affect the status quo. Not just measures like the one passed in Georgia in 1978, which encouraged builders to voluntarily make the necessary changes, but laws that force builders to do so.
"Once (basic accessibility features) are required, they will become routine," the group says.
Actually, some jurisdictions have already enacted such ordinances.
Normally, local accessibility requirements apply only to single-family houses subsidized with local funds. But Florida passed a law in 1989 requiring that main floor bathroom doors be wide enough to accommodate standard wheelchairs.
And last year, Pima County, Az., became the first place in the country to require a zero-step entry and certain other features in all new houses. The new rules apply only to the unincorporated area of the county and not to the city of Tucson. Even at that, though, an estimated 3,000 houses a year will be covered.
Similar laws are under consideration in Santa Monica, Calif., and Pittsburgh. And at the national level, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., introduced a bill last year that would require all newly-built homes receiving federal funds to meet the three basic standards of accessibility.
"It defies logic to build new homes that block people out," said the Illinois lawmaker, noting that three out of 10 people will face a disability before they are 67. But legislation may not be necessary, suggests Andrew Kochera, a senior policy advisor at AARP in Washington, who says builders are beginning to pay attention to the demographics.
"Overall," Kochera says, "builders are very cognizant of the large generation of baby boomers" that is approaching senior status. "And many are now trying to maneuver themselves to have a product that is attractive to this group."

Published: March 26, 2003




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Old 05-06-2007, 04:54 PM
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Default Re: Atlanta Area Homebuilder's Sales Up 10% YOY

Frankly I can't see a correlation between sales being up by 10% YOY and these cut and paste articles seemingly concerned with housing for the disabled.
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Old 05-06-2007, 05:29 PM
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Default Re: Atlanta Area Homebuilder's Sales Up 10% YOY

I am sure there could be a small niche here in atlanta where sales could be up 10% yoy,but overall I am sure most builders here would be estatic if there sales were only down 10% yoy.Levitt and sons moved into north metro atlanta last year and are catering to the 55 and up crowd and have done very well.I would imagine they are still trying to build the homes they sold last year as they sold over 250 homes in thier developments initial opening.It will only be a matter of time before this market is saturated also.I sell construction materials in atlanta and can tell you my top 6-7 builders from last year are down 75-80% for this year and are still trying to sell homes completed last summer.If this stretches into next spring most of them will have to find a new career.
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Old 05-06-2007, 05:55 PM
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Default Re: Atlanta Area Homebuilder's Sales Up 10% YOY

surfer girl has a personal agenda ...end of story.

Nearly any house can be built or retrofit to accomodate the disabled. What I dont see a need for is a legislated need to build all houses to accomodate or even build all houses to appeal to the disabled.

If there is REALLY a demand for these things, someone will build it and or offer it.
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Old 05-06-2007, 06:18 PM
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Default Re: Atlanta Area Homebuilder's Sales Up 10% YOY

There are builders in this area that have had to sell the homes built with the lower cabinets, higher electrical outlets, roll in showers etc for less that the price of similar units due to a lack of demand for these features, also newer apartment complexes that built a percentage of their units to comply with ADA guidelines have also had to lower the rent in order to get the units leased to persons without disabilities due to a lack of interest by those with disabilities. There is simply not enough demand to justify mass adoption of accessible housing adaptations.
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Old 05-06-2007, 06:22 PM
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Default Re: Atlanta Area Homebuilder's Sales Up 10% YOY

Sid....thanks for saying what I was trying to say.....only better.
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Old 05-06-2007, 06:23 PM
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Default Re: Atlanta Area Homebuilder's Sales Up 10% YOY

tka - 5/6/2007 5:29 PM

I am sure there could be a small niche here in atlanta where sales could be up 10% yoy,but overall I am sure most builders here would be estatic if there sales were only down 10% yoy.Levitt and sons moved into north metro atlanta last year and are catering to the 55 and up crowd and have done very well.I would imagine they are still trying to build the homes they sold last year as they sold over 250 homes in thier developments initial opening.It will only be a matter of time before this market is saturated also.I sell construction materials in atlanta and can tell you my top 6-7 builders from last year are down 75-80% for this year and are still trying to sell homes completed last summer.If this stretches into next spring most of them will have to find a new career.

And that's the Hull Truth.
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Old 05-08-2007, 12:16 PM
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Default Re: Atlanta Area Homebuilder's Sales Up 10% YOY

twentynine - 5/6/2007 3:54 PM

Frankly I can't see a correlation between sales being up by 10% YOY and these cut and paste articles seemingly concerned with housing for the disabled.
The thread title has connection with some content of the first article.
And it made Bugbuster look.
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Old 05-09-2007, 01:45 PM
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Default RE: Atlanta Area Homebuilder's Sales Up 10% YOY

THE FACTS

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There are 34.3 million Americans who have limitations in usual daily activities due to chronic conditions and disabilities. Source; Summary Health Statistics for the U.S. Population: National Health Interview Survey, 2003,


There are 11.5 million Americans who have a " go - outside - the - home" disability and 5.6 million of those are under the age of 64. Source: US Cenus Bureau, 2005 Amercian Community Survey





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VETERANS


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The roadside bomb is the signature weapon of the Iraq war, racking up the kind of body count caused by heavy artillery in past conflicts. Limb loss has occurred twice as often in Iraq as in any conflict of the past century. The extraordinary rates of survival in this war (9 out of 10 wounded soldiers survive, compared to 7.5 out of 10 in Vietnam) explains the larger number of casualties who survive with severe and lasting disabilities. In 2006, nearly a quarter of the 128 amputees lost more than one limb. Source: Time magazine, Jan 18, 2007, Another Grim Milestone: 500 Amputees by Michael Weisskopf






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THE CAREGIVING POPULATION


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More than 50 million people, provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year. Source: National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA) Random Sample Survey of Family Caregivers, Summer 2000, Unpublished.

Caregiving is no longer predominantly a women's issue. Men now make up 44% of the caregiving population . Source: National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA) Random Sample Survey of Family Caregivers, Summer 2000, Unpublished.




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FINANCIAL IMPACT



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Of the estimated 2.5 million Americans who need assistive technology such as wheelchairs, 61% can't afford it. Source: Lisa I. Iezzoni, M.D., M.Sc., 'When Walking Fails: Personal and Health Policy Considerations,' Research in Profile, a National Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, March 2002
Families that have a disabled member who needs help with activites of daily living, have lower household incomes. Approximately 43% of these households have yearly incomes under $30,000. Source: National Family Caregivers Assoc., Random Sample Survey of Family Caregivers, 2000




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UNIVERSAL DESIGN and ADA Facts

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Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.

The intent of universal design is to simplify life for everyone by making products, communications, and the built environment usable by as many people as possible at little or no extra cost. Universal design benefits people of all ages and abilities.

The ADA – Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990. The ADA prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunities for persons with disabilities. The ADA code sets minimum standards for ensuring accessibility for “places of public accommodation," businesses and commercial facilities. The ADA does not apply to private residences.







HOME FREE HOME
" tearing down barriers & building freedom "

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E mail - Info@HomeFreeHome.org

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Old 05-09-2007, 02:00 PM
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Default Re: Atlanta Area Homebuilder's Sales Up 10% YOY

Monkeys always looooook, monkeys always looooook.
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Old 05-10-2007, 11:51 PM
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Default RE: Atlanta Area Homebuilder's Sales Up 10% YOY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T37WML8sKf0
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