top of page


If you’re like the majority of Americans over the age of 45, you want to continue living in a familiar environment throughout your maturing years. According to AARP, older home owners overwhelmingly prefer to age-in-place, which means living in your home safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age or ability level.

Have you ever wanted a quick reference for Aging-In-Place / Handicap issues? 



The checklist below contains features you may want to consider for your next new construction or renovation project. It also provides a quick reference for various aging-in-place issues. While the list is not all-inclusive, it will get thinking in the right direction.



  • Low-maintenance exterior (vinyl, brick)

  • Low-maintenance shrubs and plants

  • Deck, patio, or balcony surfaces are no more than a half inch below interior floor level if made of wood


Overall Floor Plan

  • Main living on a single story, including full bath

  • No steps between rooms/areas on the same level

  • 5-foot by 5-foot clear/turn space in living area, kitchen, a bedroom, and a bathroom



  • Minimum of 36-inches wide, wider preferred

  • Well lit



  • Accessible path of travel to the home

  • At least one no-step entry with a cover

  • Sensor light at exterior no-step entry focusing on the front-door lock

  • There needs to be 32-inches of clear width, which requires a 36-inch door

  • Non-slip flooring in foyer

  • Entry door sidelight or high/low peep hole viewer; sidelight should provide both privacy and safety

  • Doorbell in accessible location

  • Surface to place packages on when opening door



  • Flush preferable

  • Exterior maximum of a half inch beveled

  • Interior maximum of a quarter inch


Interior Doors

  • There needs to be 32-inches of clear width, which requires a 36-inch door

  • Levered door hardware



  • Plenty of windows for natural light

  • Lowered windows or taller windows with lower sill height

  • Low maintenance exterior and interior finishes

  • Easy to operate hardware


Garage or Carport

  • Covered carports and boarding spaces

  • Wider than average carports to accommodate lifts on vans

  • Door heights may need to be nine feet to accommodate some raised roof vans

  • Five-foot minimum access aisle between accessible van and car in garage

  • If code requires floor to be several inches below entrance to house for fume protection, can slope entire floor from front to back to eliminate need for ramp or step

  • Ramp to doorway, if needed

  • Handrail, if steps



  • Lever handles or pedal-controlled

  • Thermostatic or anti-scald controls

  • Pressure balanced faucets


Kitchen and Laundry


  • Wall support and provision for adjustable and/or varied height counters and removable base cabinets

  • Upper wall cabinetry three inches lower than conventional height

  • Accented stripes on edge of countertops to provide visual orientation to the workspace

  • Counter space for dish landing adjacent to or opposite all appliances

  • Base cabinet with roll out trays and lazy susans

  • Pull-down shelving

  • Glass-front cabinet doors

  • Open shelving for easy access to frequently used items



  • Easy to read controls

  • Washing machine and dryer raised 12-15 inches above floor

  • Front loading laundry machines

  • Microwave oven at counter height or in wall

  • Side-by-side refrigerator/freezer

  • Side-swing or wall oven

  • Raised dishwasher with push-button controls

  • Electric cook top with level burners for safety in transferring between the burners, front controls and downdraft feature to pull heat away from user; light to indicate when surface is hot



  • 30-inch by 48-inch clear space at appliances or 60-inch diameter clear space for turns

  • Multi-level work areas to accommodate cooks of different heights

  • Open under-counter seated work areas

  • Placement of task lighting in appropriate work areas

  • Loop handles for easy grip and pull

  • Pull-out spray faucet; levered handles

  • In multi-story homes, laundry chute or laundry facilities in master bedroom



  • Wall support and provision for adjustable and/or varied height counters and removable base cabinets

  • Contrasting color edge border at countertops

  • At least one wheelchair maneuverable bath on main level with 60-inch turning radius or acceptable T-turn space and 36-inch by 36-inch or 30-inch by 48-inch clear space

  • Bracing in walls around tub, shower, shower seat, and toilet for installation of grab bars to support 250-300 pounds

  • If stand-up shower is used in main bath, it is curbless and minimum of 36-inches wide

  • Bathtub - lower for easier access

  • Fold down seat in the shower

  • Adjustable/handheld showerheads, 6-foot hose

  • Tub/shower controls offset from center

  • Shower stall with built-in antibacterial protection

  • Light in shower stall

  • Toilet two and half inches higher than standard toilet (17-19 inches) or height-adjustable

  • Design of the toilet paper holder allows rolls to be changed with one hand

  • Wall-hung sink with knee space and panel to protect user from pipes

  • Slip-resistant flooring in bathroom and shower


Stairways, Lifts, and Elevators

  • Adequate hand rails on both sides of stairway, one and a quarter inch diameter

  • Increased visibility of stairs through contrast strip on top and bottom stairs, color contrast between treads and risers on stairs and use of lighting

  • Multi-story homes may provide either pre-framed shaft (i.e., stacked closets) for future elevator, or stairway width must be minimum of four feet to allow space for lift

  • Residential elevator or lift



  • Slope no greater than one inch rise for each 12-inches in length, adequate handrails

  • Five-foot landing provided at entrance

  • Two-inch curbs for safety



  • Adjustable closet rods and shelves

  • Lighting in closets

  • Easy open doors that do not obstruct access


Electrical, Lighting, Safety, and Security

  • Light switches by each entrance to halls and rooms

  • Light receptacles with at least two bulbs in vital places (exits, bathroom)

  • Light switches, thermostats, and other environmental controls placed in accessible locations no higher than 48 inches from floor

  • Electrical outlets 15-inches on center from floor; may need to be closer than 12-feet apart

  • Clear access space of 30-inches by 48-inches in front of switches and controls

  • Rocker or touch light switches

  • Audible and visual strobe light system to indicate when the doorbell, telephone or smoke or CO2 detectors have been activated

  • High-tech security/intercom system that can be monitored, with the heating, air conditioning and lighting, from any TV in the house

  • Easy-to-see and read thermostats

  • Pre-programmed thermostats

  • Flashing porch light or 911 switch

  • Direct wired to police, fire and EMS (as option)

  • Home wired for security

  • Home wired for computers



  • Smooth, non-glare, slip-resistant surfaces, interior and exterior

  • If carpeted, use low (less than a half inch high pile) density, with firm pad

  • Color/texture contrast to indicate change in surface levels


Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning

  • HVAC should be designed so filters are easily accessible

  • Energy-efficient units

  • Windows that can be opened for cross ventilation, fresh air


Energy-Efficient Features

  • In-line framing with two by six studs spaced 24-inches on center

  • Air-barrier installation and sealing of duct work with mastic

  • Reduced-size air conditioning units with gas furnaces

  • Mechanical fresh air ventilation, installation of air returns in all bedrooms and use of carbon monoxide detectors

  • Installation of energy efficient windows with Low-E glass


Reduced Maintenance/Convenience Features

  • Easy to clean surfaces

  • Central vacuum

  • Built-in pet feeding system

  • Built-in recycling system

  • Video phones

  • Intercom system


Other Ideas
  • Separate apartment for rental income or future caregiver

  • Flex room that can used as a nursery or playroom when the children are young and as a home office later; if combined with a full bath, room could also be used for an aging parent/aging in place

bottom of page