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Lakeland Florida Homebuilder Sets Standard for Making Homes Livable

Dennis Mason, a quadriplegic and U.S. Army Purple Heart recipient, knew he needed to upgrade his home. For the past 19 years, Mason had navigated his house on prosthetics but as his body began to wear down, he’d become almost entirely reliant on his wheelchair. Now, Mason had trouble wheeling around certain parts his home.
Under these circumstances, some older adults opt to move homes or into Assisted Living Communities. Dennis Mason and his wife Juliet chose to remodel rather than move away.

They didn’t want to leave home.

Thanks to a grant from the Veterans Administration, they were able to do so – and the remodeling job was so successful that the builder, Green Construction Services in Lakeland, won a national award for creating livable homes.

Many others share the desire to remain at home even in the face of health challenges. According to an AARP sponsored 2010 survey of people 45+, 73 percent responded that they want to remain in their homes as they age.

Reasons given often parallel those of Mason and his wife – they like the community or have family members nearby.

But remodeling a home to adapt it to its occupants is an often overlooked option. Now, with the first round of Baby Boomers turning 65 in 2011, the need to adapt homes becomes particularly relevant. To recognize builders from across the nation that harmonize homes to meet needs for people of all ages, AARP and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) awards forward-thinking home designers with the Livable Communities Award.

This year, the award for single space construction went to Dean Johnson, Design and Building Specialist for Green Construction Services in Lakeland. Johnson led the design and remodeling efforts to accommodate Mason and his wife Juliet. Features installed include a wheelchair-accessible shower and bathroom sink along with a separate toilet room permitting easy maneuverability for Mason.

“I’m confident with my ability with space planning,” said Johnson. After years in the business, it’s obvious to him when a house isn’t working for those with disabilities or limited mobility. Johnson’s philosophy is that remodeling homes can be functional and aesthetically pleasing. “A good remodel looks like it’s always been there. A bad remodel looks like a bad haircut,” he said.

With the stagnating economy and housing market, remodeling one’s home is an attractive alternative to relocating to a new home. In addition, companies like Green Construction Services offer “Certified Aging in Place” specialists. People with this certification offer good design recommendations that make homes safe and comfortable without significant additional costs. In the end, it often makes sense to adapt homes so people can comfortably age in place with support from friends and family.

Find more information on Livable Communities online, or to find resources such as Certified Aging in Place Specialists, visit our Home & Garden channel.

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