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Designing Homes for Universal Design Including Aging in Place: An Interview with Timothy J. Kehoe of Kehoe Constructors, LLC

By Timothy J. Kehoe

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Kehoe Constructors, specializes in creating homes for a lifetime. Experience has taught us how to build and remodel homes so living spaces have all the features to meet your life long needs.

Whether you are getting ready for the next stage of life or want solutions that accommodate a multi-generational family or a special needs person; Kehoe Constructors is specially trained to create environments that are usable and effective for everyone. Making the design accessible to everyone in society, whether they are using the space or having a visitor in their home.

We try to enhance every project to make it more architecturally appealing as well as add value to the project. Kehoe Constructors provides new builds and renovations with your vision and future in mind: meeting your needs by incorporating "Universal Design" criteria.

Tim Kehoe has a degree in Architecture and 20 plus years of managing projects. As well as a Certified Aging in place Certificate and a Green Builders Certificate. We have had the pleasure of receiving two (2012 and 2014) Universal Design Project Awards from the Greater Columbia Homebuilders Association.

They are the ones who made us aware of the CAPs "Certified Aging in Place Specialist" program. See our website for further information.

Can you briefly explain what aging in place is?

Aging in place is a term used to describe the desires of many people. This desire is to be able to live in their home as long as possible. vs. entering into a retirement facility or moving in with relatives.

When should a homeowner start thinking about this type of design for their house?

Prior to purchasing a home or having a home built for them would be the ideal time to consider Universal Design criteria, (which incorporates aging in place). The next best is to incorporate Universal Design in any remodel to maximize the use of the dwelling.

What are some of the most frequently used features for people with health and/or age limitations?

A bathroom on the first floor with a wide enough door to be able to enter into the bathroom. (36"width is Preferred, 32"minimum width required).
An entrance into the home; barrier free. At least one door with no steps or high thresholds.
A shower that has easy access vs. climbing in and out of a tub.

What newer Universal Design/Aging In Place architectural trends do you think homeowners should know about?

The newer Universal Design architectural trends are:
Attractive designer type of grab bars
Accessible cabinets with pull down shelving devices
Pull down closet rod devices
Tilt mirrors
Roll in shower with trench drains
Adjustable hand held shower head, that slides on a vertical grab bar
Therapeutic walk-in bathing tubs
Adjustable height countertops, cooktops, sinks ( some via remote control)
Having the microwave located at a lower elevation vs. above the cooking range
Raised Dishwashers
Raised electrical outlets 24" above the floor level
Rocker type light switches that are lit up at night
Lower height thermostats with large print digital controls (max 48" above floor level)
Having a bedroom with an accessible bathroom. Usually on the first floor or accessible by elevator for upper floors
Open floor plans

How do the building and long-term costs usually factor into disability or accessibility design choices?

If incorporated into the new construction very minimal say 2% to 5%. If installed as a retro fit renovation can become expensive. It's like me asking you how much is a bag of groceries? Depends on what is in it. Same is true with renovation expenses.

Do you have any advice for people who want to design and build a new home?

Look for a knowledgeable person with Universal Design Experience which usually includes a Certified Aging in Place specialist. They are normally listed through the local or national Home Builders Association.

What's the best way for people to contact you and your company?

I may be contacted at:
Tim Kehoe, Owner/Licensed
Kehoe Constructors, LLC
'Building Your Vision'
office: 803-951-0494
mobile: 408-504-8800

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