Making plans for the future
Future-proofing a home for later in life is something architects are often asked to consider when working on designs for new builds, renovations, conversions or extensions.
Indeed, here at Howie Architects we have often ensured doorways, halls and corridors are wide enough for wheelchairs and that perhaps at least one bedroom and bathroom is on the ground floor and suitable for those with mobility issues.
An interesting recent phenomenon, however, has been the upsurge in homeowners wishing to create self-contained accommodation for parents or other older relatives within their own homes.
Undoubtedly a result of the pandemic – and not being able to see, spend time with or care for their family members – this is being manifested in various ways.
Some clients, for example, are considering converting garages, outbuildings or other sections of their homes into annexes.
Some of these are as simple as encompassing a large and accessible bedroom and bathroom suite, but others incorporate kitchens and living areas too.
We are also seeing clients with generous gardens now looking into complete new builds within their grounds.
These might be small bungalows or even two-storey houses, but they all have the benefit of combining independent living with proximity to family members should they be needed.
There are all sorts of possibilities when it comes to extending available living space within the home, and we are always happy to discuss the various options with our clients.
We are seeing some people who are themselves making a move out of the city into the countryside to find additional space and enhanced quality of life because of Covid.
And many of them are looking at properties with one eye on the future, considering whether there might eventually be space for the creation of an annexe five or 10 years hence.
Architecturally, it can be exciting to incorporate these additional living spaces into the home and to explore the various creative options in line with planning requirements.
As we live longer, and with young people finding it ever harder to get on to the property ladder, we were already seeing more extended families choosing to live together.
Now, with none of us quite sure what the new normal will be, and with most of us realising just how important it is to be able to spend time with loved ones, we expect to see it become even more commonplace.