**This is a collaborative post in association with Age UK Mobility
We might only be in our 40s and have young children but as we continue renovations on our house we are always looking to the future. It’s important to think about how the changes we are making now will work when we, and the boys, are older. Below are 5 ideas that will help if you want to future-proof your home too.
At the moment we are all fit and healthy so things like getting up and downstairs and climbing into a bath aren’t a problem but I only need to look at my parents and in-laws to know that might not always be the case.
When we renovated our bathroom last year we took out the bath and replaced it with a walk in shower which will be easy to use even when we get less mobile. We know that the bathroom wall is solid brick but if yours isn’t it may be worth thinking about reinforcing walls when renovating to you can add things like grab rails or shower seats much more easily later on.
We love our shower but showers aren’t for everyone. My mum is fit and active but she is in her 70s and no longer has a bath because she is worried about getting up again once she’s got in. I know she misses it but there are options out there that would mean she could have a bath again – Age UK Mobility can help you come up with the design for a walk in bath and shower.
One of the other things we want to change is our front entrance. We currently have a few steps down and then up again to get in the front door. This makes getting in and out awkward, even for us, but especially for people with limited mobility. We don’t want to get to the point where the boys’ grandparents can’t come and visit because they can’t get in the front door so this is something we wanted to get sorted soon.
Energy Efficient Improvements
There are lots of simple ways to make your home more energy efficient. We always replace old bulbs with LED ones, when buying new appliances we look for the most energy-efficient ones we can afford, and we are taking steps to ensure our home is well insulated.
We recently had smart meters fitted as well. The information display lets us see how much gas and electricity we are using each day and so we can take steps to try and reduce our consumption.
One area we may all need to look to in future is replacing gas central heating with new energy efficient electric radiators. Reducing use of fossil fuels in homes is going to be a big step for many households in the UK but one we are all going to have to make eventually.
Make Your Home Smarter
We currently have an Amazon Echo Dot which is connected to a smart bulb in the living room, and a smart plug. The plug is used to connect an extension lead which means with one voice command we can switch on the TV and all the connected boxes. Of course that also means we can switch them all off together and so nothing is left on standby overnight.
Smart bulbs and plugs aren’t the cheapest but we plan on adding more over time. In fact I’ve just ordered two more smart bulbs one for the bathroom and one for the hallway because Gabe can’t reach the light switches and now we’re into the dark nights and mornings it will mean he will be able to go to the toilet on his own without someone needing to turn the light on for him!
Our next addition is hopefully going to be smart heating – the heating for our 3 storey house is currently controlled by one thermostat in the hallway on the middle floor. The temperature can vary massively from the top of the house to the bottom though so being able to control the heat in each room separately would be so much better, and we’d be able to save money by only heating the rooms we are using.
Smart technology can be great for older people too – being able to control your lights and heating with voice commands or even motion sensors can make life much easier.
Think About Wiring
Older houses aren’t always set up to use all the modern technology we have these days. Whenever we decorate or renovate a room in our house we always think about things like plug sockets and cabling for TV and internet.
When we had the kitchen done we added a lot more plug sockets than we had previously, and we chose ones with USB sockets on to make sure there was always room to charge all our devices.
We also had a cable run from the TV in the living room to the kitchen and at the same time added an internet cable. Although we don’t need it at the moment, we may do one day and it’s easier to add cables like this at the same time rather than having to do the job again later.
Plan for family changes
Obviously at the moment we have two young children and that affects how we use our house. For example, we all sleep in the downstairs bedrooms, even though the master bedroom is actually upstairs, because we want to be nearby in case the boys need anything in the night.
But as they get older we have plans to make more changes to our house, which will eventually lead to the addition of one or two more bedrooms upstairs so we can all sleep up there and the downstairs bedrooms will become the office and game room.
If you are planning renovations or an extension it is always worth thinking about not only how it will work for your family now, but also how it will work in 10, 20 or 30 years.
Do you have any other ideas about how you can future-proof your home? I’d love to hear them, just leave me a comment below.