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Local homebuilders learn about best design for seniors

The Southern Nevada Home Builders Association hosted a special presentation about the “aging in place” movement in the building and remodeling industry.

The term “aging in place” refers to a person’s ability to live in her home safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age or ability level. For homebuilders, that means including features, such as wider doorways and halls, brighter lighting and larger, barrier-free rooms. Such features will allow the homebuyers to stay in their new home for many years instead of relocating to housing that offers features and services geared for the aged and disabled.

Survey after survey tells us that mature homeowners plan to stay in their homes for as long as possible during their senior years. We were fortunate to have as our guest speaker Curt Kiriu, president of CK Independent Living Builders in Hawaii. Kiriu is an education official with the National Association of Home Builders, of which SNHBA is the local affiliate.

He was named the NAHB Certified Aging in Place Specialist Educator of the Year for 2016.

He’s the vice chairperson of the NAHB Certified Aging in Place Specialist board of directors. He wears other hats at NAHB and the BIA-Hawaii Building Industry Association board of directors.

In addition to his professional experience with “aging in place,” Curt has personal experiences, too. He was his father’s caregiver for 17 years after his mother passed away. Curt has won a number of awards for his efforts to improve the lives of the aged and those who care for them, especially in the home environment.

“Aging in place” education is one of the fastest-growing education programs at the National Association of Home Builders. The courses and “Certified Aging in Place Specialist” designation are attracting a variety of professionals. In addition to builders, remodelers, architects and interior designers, other participants include physical and occupational therapists, nurses, realtors, financial planners, medical-supply store owners and managers and urban planners.

The NAHB Remodelers Council, NAHB 50+Housing Council, the Home Innovation Research Lab and AARP developed the program to address the growing number of consumers who will soon require housing that is appropriate for the aging. The estimated 76 million baby boomers, who were born between 1946 and 1964, have reached the demographic category of “senior citizen.” About 10,000 boomers turn age 65 every day, and will continue to do so for the next 16 years.

Although this movement started in the remodeling category, it has spread to new-home construction. In addition to wider doors and halls, brighter lighting and flexible living space, other features and amenities that some builders include are remote control lighting and security, pull-out drawers in kitchens, baths and pantries, decorative “grab bars” that don’t look like medical grab bars in the baths, magnification viewers on entry door peep holes, trench drains in the showers to eliminate drains and sloping in the center of the showers …. and the list continues. The research and development industry is coming up with new, innovate products every year.

The challenge will remain, for now, to produce housing that meets the needs and wants of buyers at an affordable price point.

But don’t be surprised if you see more “aging in place” features and amenities coming to the Las Vegas housing market. You can read more about the “aging in place” movement at the websites, nahb.org and aarp.org.

Send your questions or comments about new homes to monica@snhba.com. We will try to answer as many questions as we can given space and time limitations and constraints. For more information about SNHBA, visit snhba.com.

Nat Hodgson is the executive director and past president of the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association. He has been involved in the local home building industry since 1993, and is a former board member of the Nevada State Contractors Board regulatory agency. SNHBA is the largest and oldest trade organization representing the residential construction industry in Nevada.

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