Springfield, MO

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Chad Holgerson of Keystone Building says decks and sunrooms add to the enjoyment of the home for the elderly, while interior tweaks such as grab bars and wider doors aid accessibility.
Chad Holgerson of Keystone Building says decks and sunrooms add to the enjoyment of the home for the elderly, while interior tweaks such as grab bars and wider doors aid accessibility.

Attention for Aging in Place

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When the television news network CNBC contacted local contractor Chad Holgerson to tape a segment about the movement of aging in place, Holgerson was eager to help highlight the growing trend, amplified by the fact that the first of the roughly 75 million baby boomers will turn 65 this year.

Aging in place is the term commonly used when mature homeowners decide to stay in their homes, rather than either selling and moving to a warmer climate, moving in with grown children or other relatives, or relocating to assisted-living or retirement communities. And with the first of about 75 million baby boomers turning 65 this year, making homes livable for aging homeowners is a trend that’s likely to grow.

Holgerson, owner of Nixa-based Keystone Building and Design LLC, said homeowners may need several remodeling projects to make their homes more accessible as they age, from adding grab bars in bathrooms to raising toilet heights, widening doors and lowering countertops.

“Every client is different and has a different set of needs,” said Holgerson. “We generally focus on the kitchen and bath areas.”

CNBC found Holgerson via his Web site,, and will tape his segment in a few weeks when upgraded windows he is installing for an area homeowner arrives.

CNBC Reporter Sharon Epperson said the story for which Holgerson was contacted encompasses making home improvements for accessibility as well as enabling homeowners to remain in their communities rather than relocating to warmer climates.

Epperson said she did not know when CNBC would air the story.

Holgerson said his company already has remodeled the master bathroom and created a more accessible shower for the home he will be working on for the CNBC segment.

He said the energy-efficient windows and the addition of a sunroom are changes that make moving to a warmer climate a less-attractive option for the homeowners.

Beyond climate, there are other reasons older people tend to stay put, such as wanting to stay near their families or current jobs, or simply because they like their homes.

Teresa Hall, a real estate agent and developer with Century 21 Integrity Group in Springfield, said she’s beginning to see more people interested in aging in place.

“With the economy the way it is, I am seeing more mature people with not as much discretionary funds who are looking for ways to make their homes more livable,” said Hall, a Realtor and licensed nursing home administrator whose career includes working with the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services and the development of several 55-and-older communities, including Autumn Corners at Copper Leaf, her current project.

When she’s talking with older homeowners who are weighing remodeling versus moving, she tells them to explore whether the costs for renovations are reasonable.

“A homeowner usually doesn’t get back what he has invested, but if it is more than $20,000, I would suggest that they look at more properties that are appropriate for their needs,” Hall said.

“We may see a time when accessible homes are more valuable as the need grows and the whole economic condition of housing improves.”

The National Association of Home Builders, which offers a certification course that enables builders to become certified aging in place specialists, has created aging-in-place checklists for remodeling of everything from a home’s exterior – where easy maintenance is recommended – to floor plans, lighting and appliances, according to

But Hall said considerations for aging in place stretch beyond houses to factors including availability and accessibility to services such as medical care and transportation, as well as the safety of the neighborhood in which the home is located.

Homeowners Bill and Billie Pohl, who have lived in their home in the Cherokee Estates subdivision for 25 years, hired Holgerson’s Keystone Building last year for a remodeling job after Billie began having knee problems and learned she would need a knee replacement.

Both 73, the Pohls liked their neighborhood and wanted to stay in their home and close to their family. Their main concern was the home’s laundry facilities, which were in the basement.

Bill Pohl said his wife saw a photo of a remodeling project in which the washer and dryer were moved to a specially designed cabinet in the kitchen on the home’s main floor. The couple enlisted Keystone to relocate their laundry facility, a job that Bill Pohl said cost less than $5,000.

“It was cheaper to do this than move, and it will make it so much easier while Billie is recovering,” he said, noting that his wife had knee replacement surgery earlier this month.
Holgerson, who has taken some aging-in-place courses but does not hold NAHB’s CAPS certification, said he’s done about a half-dozen remodels geared toward aging in place, but there are some techniques that he takes into consideration for any remodeling job.

“Things like softer corners, easy-pull-out drawers and easy-closing cabinet doors are a mindset when we remodel, even if accessibility is not at the front of the project,” he said.[[In-content Ad]]


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