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Seniors Will Pay More for Safety

June 11, 1989

Older people are willing to pay up to $1,400 more for a house that is specially designed to be safer and more comfortable, according to studies conducted for the state of Florida, reported in the AARP Housing Report published by the American Assn. of Retired Persons.

Financed by the federal Administration on Aging, the studies researched "A-Factor" homes, with one living level, slightly wider (30 rather than 28 inches) interior doors, non-slip surfaces, levers rather than knobs for the doors, rounded corners on cabinets and higher electrical outlets.

"This type of design is simply good design for all age groups, regardless of health," according to Margaret Lynn Duggar of the Aging and Adult Services division of Florida's Department of Health.

"The user-friendly features (of A-Factor houses) are particularly good for anyone considering a retirement residence. It's the kind of design that looks to the future; the kind that makes it easier to stay in their homes as they age."

Most builders seem to like A-Factor houses because "it gives them a line of entry into a very competitive market," according to Michael Pfaff, who directed the project. But he said that some builders viewed certain A-Factor features as mixed blessings.

For example, a house with wider doors will have larger rooms because of the extra space needed for the door to swing open, but there will most likely be fewer rooms--a combination that often is difficult to market.

A market survey of consumers 50 and older indicated that some features were popular with consumers, while other features were less desired. The chart above indicates the popularity of some common A-Factor features.

COST AND DESIRABILITY OF HOME FEATURES

Majority Features Extra Cost Would Pay Custom pantries $149 Yes Non-slip floors $120 Yes Grab bars $55 Yes Single-lever kitchen faucets $55 Yes Non-slip concrete sidewalks $25 Yes Wider interior doors $15 Yes Covered exterior porch $615 No Door levers with deadbolt locks $212 No

SOURCE: AARP Housing Report.

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