Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Is Your Home Ready For Your Future?

With the way the economy is it, do you think it is likely you are going to be staying in your home for the long term?
Is your house ready for you to get old?

We were talking to my Dad recently and he told us about his next door neighbor. They live in a regular two story home with all the bedrooms upstairs. She had a hip replacement last year and it went very well, but with all the going up and down the stairs the knee on the opposite side is worn out and now she needs that replaced.

When my parents bought their house it was their retirement home so they went with a main floor living model and that came in real handy when Mom had her stroke. Not having to go up and down stairs allowed her to stay home. Some friends even build a ramp so she could make it in and out the front door.

It doesn't have to be a stroke. In our case we were in a car crash and with multiple leg fractures we weren't able to climb the stairs to our second story apartment. So we ended up living in my parents living room for a few months until we healed up enough to walk around again.

On a side note, make sure all the main level doors at 36 inches or wider, especially the ones to the toilet. Setting up a potty station in the living room is not pleasant, and having to hop-slide sideways thru the toilet doorway is not fun.

I am studying permaculture on the side and I think it is really great, once it is setup it is not a lot of work, I like that. But it sees the home as just a source of water, compost material and a backdrop for the plants.

That is all well and good but I want more. We have done and can do way more.

Passive solar design makes a huge difference. If you take what Frank Lloyd Wright did with Falling Water and some of his other designs and what has been learned since then you can make homes that need very little in the way of supplemental heating and cooling. What does that mean? It means much lower energy bills. I get the benefit of less money leaving my pocket. As a beneficial side effect we would be less of a burden on the planet for those who care deeply about that.

And if a home is good at passive solar it will also be good at active solar, generating electricity and hot water are things you can do and after the initial startup cost we are sending way less to the utilities. There is a lot more that needs to go into this but this is enough for now.

Self-reliance is not just about when you are in good physical shape but even when life catches up and your body begins to run down. Plan out something for that time, it will comes sooner or later.