We’d be remiss to not recognize World Architecture Day, which is always celebrated on the first Monday of October. While architecture exists to create the physical environment we live in, it is so much more than that. It is a huge part of our culture, and it greatly impacts our society. Two architects that have wholeheartedly impacted two recent clients of ours are Watkins Architect (based out of Fleetwood, PA) and Olsen Design Group Architects (based out of Reading, PA).
At D&B Elite Custom, we are grateful that we were able to work with both of these architect firms as they enriched our clients’ lives. Learn more about both below:
Revitalizing A Home In Spring Township:
In December of 2019, a Berks County family endured a fire at their home that left just part of the foundation. Thankfully, they were in good hands with one of their friends, Lee Olsen, who conveniently also happens to be the President and CEO of Olsen Design Group Architects. He referred the family to our Elite team, and the rest was history. Despite the pandemic putting a brief pause on the design process, the design phase was restarted in May of 2020 and demolition took place in October of 2020.
The family turned the loss of their old home into an opportunity to build a home guided by form and function. The end result was a home “more suitable for senior citizens” with everything they need all on one floor as they enter the next season of their life. Every detail of the home, from the breathtaking timber beams right down to the paint color in each room, was carefully selected with a purpose. The couple wanted a rustic, comforting style that paid homage to their travels in the Alps. Influence came from a blueprint they obtained in Zermatt, Switzerland, as well as from the architecture of northern Italy, southern Austria, and Bavaria, Germany.
From there, Lee and his talented team got the job done. According to the Olsen team, this project was “the most emotionally fulfilling project, as we took a burned-out home, and keeping only the basement, created a new and vibrant homestead for the family. Now all of their children and grandchildren have a new home to come to at holiday time, the owners have their own Grande Suite, and a full music recording studio on the same site where they have lived since they were married.”
Blueprints of the home from Olsen Design Group Architects
The exterior of the finished home
The first floor
The Master Bath
Accessible Home Addition Leads To Independence:
In Lebanon County you’ll find another client of D&B Elite Custom’s who recently received assistance in helping their 11-year-old son, Ryan, achieve a more independent lifestyle. Ryan has Spina Bifida, a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don’t form properly. Although he uses a wheelchair and crutches in his everyday life, Ryan enjoys an active lifestyle filled with sporting events, playing instruments, and more. “We wanted to add an addition that allows him to move freely whether he is on crutches or using a wheelchair. It is important to us to help Ryan grow as independent as possible,” explain Ryan’s parents. Prior to this home addition, Ryan was limited to a small bedroom with a hall bathroom that was clearly too small as he continues to grow. Here’s a view of the spaces he used prior to completing this home addition project:
This 440 SF addition was designed to have a functional bedroom, bathroom and closet that extends off of the living room. The process took seven different revisions to find the design that flowed best with Ryan’s needs.
John Watkins of Watkins Architect spoke with our client about the importance of having an architect to make sure everything that needs to be complete is finished. He reached out directly to D&B Elite Custom last April with the plan that needed to be done. “Watkins was a huge component of planning this process because once D&B Elite Custom got involved everything was ready to go. Larry was very confident that Watkin’s plans could be done. It allowed us to be very confident. It was important for us to develop a relationship where we felt confident that they were going to have everything that we needed,” explains the client.
Although this project was not fully ADA compliant, it encompasses a multitude of ADA features that were designed with Ryan’s needs in mind. For example, ADA requires three different hand rails around the toilet, but ultimately Ryan did not need that, so only one hand rail was installed.
“The goal for Ryan was to be able to be more independent as he continues to grow. The addition did just that, allowing him to become independent for all of his daily needs without his parents,” explain Ryan’s parents as they reflect on the positive impact that this project had on him.
Check out the addition below:
All in all, none of these projects would have been possible without the help of of these two outstanding local architects – Watkins Architect and Olsen Design Group Architects. We are grateful for their partnership day in and day out.
Many studies over the last several decades have shown that most seniors (ages 65+) prefer the idea of aging in their own home – or aging in place – rather than moving into a nursing home. Research indicates that the majority of seniors (about 94%) still wish to stay in their home as long as they are able. It’s no secret that Covid-19 has likely strengthened the desire seniors have to age in place. With the change in “life as we knew it” since March of 2020, we couldn’t help but wonder how Covid-19 may have affected the elderly’s living landscape now and into the future.
This was the case for D&B Elite Custom clients, Janet and John, whose parents/in-laws decided to age in place by adding an addition to the couple’s home. “We sat down with my father David to talk about options since the current plan of just taking care of Mom himself at their own home was no longer adequate,” reflects Janet. Although Janet’s father had been leaning towards moving into a senior living facility, his mind was swayed after the pandemic hit.
Janet reflected on the positive impact that aging in place had on her father: “It gave him a sense of ownership and privacy. He knows his money paid for the addition. For him that was a plus. My Dad made a business decision to sell his home and build something smaller onto our house. He knew he came out ahead financially, which gave him a sense of ownership and a boost.” Hear more from the family about their experience adding an addition here!
In a senior living facility, you’re not gaining a sense of ownership. Meanwhile, the way the addition was constructed allows Janet’s father to feel that he still has his own home. He can come and go using his own walkway, and he can sit outside on his own porch with his wife. All of these actions give him a sense of privacy and strong sense of identity, allowing the couple to be who they are while still having the overall safety needed.
According to a Pew Research study, “living with an extended circle of relatives is the most common type of household arrangement for older people around the world. But in the United States, older people are far less likely to live this way – and far more likely to live alone or with only a spouse or partner.” However, the pandemic may be changing these views in the United States. More families may be inclined to take in their seniors rather than putting them in senior facility homes. According to a Forbes article, students in a School of Aging Studies class at the University of Maryland Baltimore County gave their opinions on what they would do with their families’ living situation in the future based on Covid-19: “More families will think about adapting their houses and lifestyle to accommodate older people living with them because living in those nursing facilities is risky.” There are a scattering amount of home improvements that prove to be worth adding to your home to accommodate seniors. Improvements are not only for your parents, but are for yourself as you continue to age. Instead of looking into a retirement community or nursing home, consider making your home suitable for the needs that one develops as they age.
As a result of the pandemic, many families are more cautious when it comes to housing their elderly loved ones in a nursing home. The fear of them becoming ill couples with the fear of possibly not being able to see their loved ones if quarantining is needed. According to Home Advisor’s True Cost Guide, “it is typically cheaper to build an addition than to buy or build a new home.” John explained that for his family it was cheaper to add an addition instead of building another home close to them. Hear from John and Janet on what their experience was like working with the Elite team here!
Construction on your home is an inconvenience – we get that. Unforeseen issues will inevitably arise. As our Vice President of Residential Construction, Larry Adam, says, “A project well planned is a project half complete.” Here’s five tips on how to streamline your home remodel project:
Plan ahead (especially with current extended lead times, supply chain difficulties, and wait on inventory). If you want to enjoy a new outdoor living space by next Summer, you should really be starting today.
Houzz and Pinterest are great places to gather inspiration of the style, look, and feel you are going for.
This will get you quality work on time and within budget. A builder that is willing to start active construction right away without ensuring every little detail of your project is thought of may be a red flag. They should be completing a pre-construction walk through to review points of access, location of dust protection and more to ease the process.
Be realistic when it comes to financials (unlike the budgets you see on HGTV!)
A good construction partner will advise you on where you can adjust specifications to save money. They will help you come up with a plan that gets the look you desire to fit within a reasonable budget.
Your general contractor should be making them a key part of the process. They should have an intimate knowledge of your project before they meet you. This makes all the difference.
Look for a construction partner that makes a point to clearly communicate and invests in construction management software to help manage project selections and deadlines.
Contact D&B Elite Custom for your free consultation today! See why we were named 2022 People’s Choice in Home Contractor and New Home Builder.