Shoveling the driveway and mowing the lawn get harder as an individual ages. Household maintenance requires more outside help as the physical realities of aging take hold.
Investors can expand their portfolio by investing in properties with accessible features. By removing barriers to mobility, many property owners can target and attract affluent aging individuals to their units.
Barrier-free is a design concept that minimizes or removes barriers to access for people struggling with mobility.
Investors can adapt existing structures to be more mobility-friendly, but there are limitations to retrofitting an existing building. Correcting narrow stairwells, doorways, or hallways is not always feasible in an older building; however, installation of automatic door openers can go a long way toward making a building more accessible. Consider automatic doors for every common area in the building. Elevators are often cost-prohibitive to install within an aging infrastructure. Due to these costs, the biggest areas for advancement with barrier-free design tend to be in new construction.
Stairs can be one of the biggest challenges to overcome for someone with a mobility issue.
Those few steps at the front of the building might as well be a “Do not enter” sign for someone who requires a wheelchair or a walker. Ramps can make access easier, and elevators can remove the barrier to access on upper levels of the building for individuals with mobility challenges.
Narrow hallways and doorways are often the next barrier that becomes obvious once a person with mobility issues has obtained access to the building.
Struggling through a narrow hallway with a wheelchair or walker can be dangerous and frustrating. Walkers and wheelchairs also require a larger turning radius, forcing users to back out of tight doorways and elevators. There simply isn’t enough room to turn around safely.
When you add raised thresholds to the mix, you have an increased potential for entrapment or a fall or trip. Power wheelchairs and mobility scooters may assist a person in overcoming the physical constraints of the raised barrier; however, the jarring bump often causes pain and instability, which further contribute to the fall risk. Many flat or zero-clearance threshold options that will provide both form and function are available to landlords.
Little improvements can go a long way toward enhancing a space for an individual who has mobility struggles.
Items like raised toilets, strategically placed handrails, and supports can make a home more livable. Single-lever faucets are a cost-effective and easier-to-grip option for sinks and showers. There are many other low-cost adaptations that can help landlords remove a barrier to tenancy.
Big-ticket renovations like updating kitchen cabinetry, installing personal alarm systems, and bathroom retrofits may not make financial sense for some properties, but would be easily integrated into a new build.
Investors should closely analyze the cost benefits of these types of renovations as they develop and implement their business models.