The consensus is in, and a number of studies show people overwhelmingly prefer to stay in their homes and neighborhoods as they age. A member of the baby boomer generation, Judy W. decided to build a small house behind her home in Albany, California. "I've lived in this neighborhood for over 30 years, and when I thought about the future, this was where I want to stay." Judy's reduced sized, 442-square-foot cottage will provide a cozy place when she's ready to retire. For now, she is renting out the cottage for supplemental income and continues to live with her daughter and family in the main home.
Building a small unit next to an existing home site provides options for owners and increases the value of their home. Cities that welcome accessory dwellings, such as Santa Cruz, California; Vancouver, British Columbia and Austin, Texas, know that they translate into more affordable housing. While some cities have yet to change housing laws to allow accessory dwellings, cities such as Portland, Oregon, encourage them by relaxing their building codes, providing building permit reductions, and expediting the building process.
Judy teamed up with New Avenue to create her backyard cottage. The Northern California company assists homeowners through the process of adding the small units; 85% of their clients are boomers or retirees. "Owners can go online using our specialized software to quickly lay out their small home ideas, which range from renovating garages to all new construction,"
A 2-bedroom, 640-square-foot small home is New Avenue's most popular model, with some retirees turning the second room into an in-home office and adding a loft as additional sleeping space for a family member or future caretaker. A 2-bedroom accessory dwelling in the San Francisco Bay Area costs about $250,000 including the design, engineering, permitting and construction. In comparison, the median price for a single-family home in the Bay Area is $770,000. "We can easily build to accommodate a resident with a disability by eliminating steps and can include other aging-in-place design features," adds Casey.
In the next two decades, boomers are turning 65 at a rate of 8,000 a day according to AARP. While no one can predict individual life expectancy, a 65-year old today can expect, on average, to live another 19 years. As their need for assistance rises, many will prefer not to move into a senior institution or may not be able to afford one. Creating smaller-sized, less costly housing within neighborhoods, adjacent to family, can be a good solution and less expensive over time than other senior housing options.
"I had looked for a while for help with a backyard cottage," recalls Judy W. "New Avenue said they could meet the city's requirements and make it happen. They were right! My home is really beautiful and I am very happy."
New Avenue makes adding accessory dwellings easy by using a structured process, local professionals, and data analysis to provide an integrated project delivery experience.
Small houses designed for aging.
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