The home is the center of any family. It’s where we gather, celebrate, and experience life together. The best part about our homes is that they adapt to us and our needs. So, when it comes time to adjust our aging loved one’s homes, there are many aspects to consider. However, one key part of the home to consider is the garage. Let’s unpack various garage modifications for seniors and how they can help your loved one age in place.
Garages are great multi-functional spaces in our homes! Therefore, there a few ways your family can adjust a garage space for the benefit of your aging adult. First, garages are popular spaces to transform into an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) or “granny flat.” Converting your garage into a granny flat could be an excellent option to move your loved one closer while still supporting their independence.
Second, many families seek garage modifications so that their loved one can use their own garage safely in their own home. Suppose your loved one is continuing to live in their own space. In that case, there are few specific garage modifications for seniors to consider.
Whichever option you are considering, we would love to equip you with information to use for your loved one’s garage modifications. Home is where the heart is. So, it is important to make your loved one’s space reflect their safety and needs. And we are here to help!
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are also sometimes referred to as granny flats or mother-in-law cottages. These can be small standalone units added to the backyard of an existing home. Or, they are created from converting extra space in the house such, as a garage. ADUs usually supply a bedroom, living area, bathroom, and kitchen to your parent. Therefore, they allow you to keep your loved one nearby while still providing some privacy for both of you.
There are many benefits to granny flats that support you and your aging adult. Some of these benefits include:
Like any other home construction project, there are particular guidelines and protocols you must follow. There will be required ordinances to ensure this new space is legally livable. Moreover, specific permits will be required.
First, connect with your local Zoning Department for more information. Next, they will direct you to make sure your plans are city-approved and safe. The good news is that granny flats have become more popular. Therefore, most cities now have expedited processes for their permits!
The short answer is, most likely, yes! As mentioned, there are a few steps you will need to take to be in compliance with your city ordinances. However, the decision primarily rests with you. You and your family are the ones to decide if an ADU or granny flat is the right addition to your home.
Most importantly, you might want to start with a conversation with your loved one. Many aging adults thrive with an aging-in-place option. It allows them the comfort of living in a familiar home. So, the beauty of a garage living space means they don’t have to give up their independence.
Consequently, this could make a conversation with your parent about moving easier. Meaning, they will have their own little home to enjoy as opposed to a bedroom in your house or a long-term care facility. This might be a more exciting option for them. They can still have their own furniture, keep a cherished pet, and set house rules.
However, there are a few considerations to think through when considering a garage conversion. First, you might want to consider if losing your garage works for your family. A great benefit to garage conversions is that so much of the expensive work is already done for you (foundation, walls, etc.)
Meaning, you could create an entirely new livable space in your home without some of the larger construction costs. On the other hand, it does mean losing a traditional garage that houses vehicles or oversized items. Some families opt to instead build a detached ADU on their property if losing a garage is not an option.
Ultimately, you know your family, loved one, and home best! Garage granny flats are an excellent way to move your loved one closer and maintain their independence. And, usually, it is at a fraction of the cost of a completely new addition.
Like any home construction project, the price tag for a garage conversion ranges. However, one benefit of a garage living space is that some expensive work is already completed. Items like walls, roofing, and a foundation are expensive construction elements that are already completed. This is one money-saving benefit of a garage modification for seniors.
However, there are significant construction costs to consider still. Most garage conversions include costs around:
These basic costs range in price depending on your choices, size of the unit, and taste for modification. However, on average, most garage modifications for seniors cost between $10,000 to $50,000. If a separate bathroom or kitchenette is desired, the project could cost more. Therefore, if you are comfortable with your loved one still sharing an accessible bathroom or the kitchen, this could keep the cost lower for you.
Each garage conversion project will range in cost, and these are just average estimates. Certainly, as you begin drafting this project, you will get a better idea of the exact amount your garage modification will cost.
Broadly, a garage modification project will be from your own pocket. However, ADUs and granny flats have become hugely popular across the country. Therefore, many financing and loan options particularly consider this type of project in their offerings.Additionally, most cities and counties across the states are encouraging their citizens to build granny flats. With the demand for affordable housing increasing, ADUs are seen as an excellent solution for everyone.
As a result, most cities have tried to accommodate these types of home modification, making the process simpler. For instance, many local governments have made the permit process more streamlined and cheaper. Likewise, even a handful of cities in major metropolitan areas offer financial assistance for ADU modifications.
And while there is little financial assistance for your garage modification construction, there are other financial options. Considering that the average cost for elderly residential care ranges from $1,600 – $8,000 a month, an ADU could eventually save money. Many families prefer the cost of building their own long-term care solution to paying an outside company each month.
Moreover, another financial benefit of a garage granny flat is the potential property value increase. Like any construction project, property values are only estimates and depend on your home and area. But, increased livable space in a home usually improves its overall value. Even though garage modifications can come at a high price tag, that amount is still being reinvested into your current home.
Of course, this is a personal financial decision where you are the expert! We encourage you to research average costs for residential care in your area. Next, you can then compare that to your projected garage modification costs to see long-term financial impacts. Again, the beauty of garage modifications for seniors is that some construction costs will be lower.
While there is little aid for garage conversion, there are home repair grants for senior citizens. Each state has its own programs, but options like low-income utilities and heat-efficient window grants are accessible for seniors who qualify. Connect with your local Agency on Aging office to explore available financial assistance and home repair grants for seniors citizens.
Finally, we know that money isn’t everything. Although most families need to make decisions with finances in mind, your love for your parent is beyond money. If financially you decide that a garage modification works for your family, the benefits of having your loved one nearby are priceless.
If creating a separate space for your loved one is not financially feasible, don’t worry! There are plenty of other ways to support your loved one age-in-place beautifully with your love and care. And we can help with that!
Accessory Dwelling Units can be used and designed for many purposes. But in the case of your loved one, specifically, you want to think of design with them in mind. Below are a few ideas to consider for garage modifications for seniors:
Now, for some aging adults, a granny flat may not be needed, and they are safe and comfortable in their own homes. If so, you might still want to consider some modifications for their own garage. Garages are wonderful home features, but they can have some safety concerns to consider.
Ideally, your loved one’s garage can become as clutter-free as possible! Understandably, garage clean-ups are not the most fun chore. But, a clearer garage is a safer space. Specifically, lots of clutter could be a tripping or falling hazard. Also, clearer pathways could be easier for walking.
Moreover, if a car is still being parked or used in the garage, less clutter will allow for more space to safely enter or exit a vehicle. Rope in some friends or family for a garage cleaning day if needed!
After de-cluttering your loved one’s garage, consider helping them organize it in a safe way! The more accessible your parent’s items are, the less likely they are to lose stability and take a tumble when searching for something. To take it even further, use easy-to-move clear totes with largely written labels. Your loved one will surely appreciate the extra organization you’ve put into their space!
Garage flooring is known for being unforgiving and slippery. In fact, many of us have taken a spill on a wet cement floor! Think about adding non-slip grip products to well-traveled paths in the garage.
Likewise, consider making the doorway in the garage more accessible, especially if it involves steps. Maybe adding a handrail, grip tape, or a ramp might be helpful.
Finally, your loved one will appreciate a well-lit garage. And since garages usually are poorly lit, adding some simple lighting could do wonders. Adding more light switches could prevent your loved one from fumbling in the dark. Or adding motion-activated lighting to the interior of the garage as well could increase safety and comfort!
At Beverly’s Daughter, we recognize that making big construction or home modification decisions can feel stressful. Especially when you are trying to balance budgets with the deep commitment you have for your aging adult. We’re here to offer help. From garage modifications for seniors to difficult conversations, we want to support you in this journey.
Have any questions? Want to leave a comment? Looking for more resources? Continue the conversation below!
Garage Modification and Aging
A garage modification could be the next best step for you and your loved one. Perhaps a garage granny flat is a perfect solution. Or, maybe your parent needs some adaptions to their garage. Either way, resources are available on how to take any garage from average to aging-friendly!
Garage modifications that benefit your loved one
The home is the center of any family. And sometimes the aging process requires home changes for everyone. We want to make sure you and your loved one are supported through these changes. At Beverly’s Daughter, we are here to help you create a plan for care and find creative solutions for you both.
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