Read our top tips in making your home sustainable and liveable for the long term...
Once you’ve found your forever home and started work on getting it to look and feel just how you’d like it, you’ll want to ensure that you can live there, well, forever! Future proofing a property ensures that it remains fit for purpose as your family grows and ages, responding to the changing needs of those living within as the years go on.
Future proofing ensures that you’ll be able to live in your home for as long as possible and not have to move for the foreseeable future. There are many moves and renovations homeowners take to install this ongoing flexibility into their homes, but these need to be done cleverly to stay relevant and appropriate as time passes. But what needs to be considered when future proofing and how can it be done without breaking the bank? Read on for our top tips in making your home sustainable and liveable for the long term…
While the British government of course understand the value in a thriving and active property market, they too know that the ageing population will have changing needs – and that in order to prevent a care crisis later on, people need to be able to live in their homes for as long as possible. The UK Building Regulations sets minimum standards across a whole range of property developments but there are two parts that particularly apply to future proofing. Part L of the English regulations refers to crucial energy efficiency and part M to accessibility standards. Both should be read and understood so that the appropriate standards can be adhered to.
Energy efficiency standards are always on the up as homeowners look not to just to increase the eco-efficiency of their houses but also to save money on pricey bills. Any home that is to be lived in for a long time requires the utmost in energy efficiency – and to best implement this, the building’s very fabric and infrastructure should be addressed. The more airtight and well insulated the shell of a property is, the better protection it has against the elements. Homeowners should invest in the highest level of energy efficiency their budget can cover, and only look to invest in renewable or alternative fuel options once the building is efficient enough to maximise their value.
Future proofing is not just about installing home improvements that will grow and develop with those within, but also in preparing for other changes to be made in the future. Providing accessible ducts for cables to run through and fitting sockets, switches and other controls at different levels increases usability for all. Underfloor heating can also now be easily installed and keeps walls and corridors free of unnecessary obstacles to make way for later renovations.
There are now a variety of smart tech systems for the control and interaction with home infrastructure – from turning on lights and heating to answering the doorbell all from a smartphone or device.
Smart tech is already transforming the way people live and will undoubtedly continue to, but it must be remembered that tech ages quickly and so there must be any over reliance on these tools. Good, simple design should still feature heavily and wherever smart tech is installed it should be done to work around the home, and not the home working around the tech.
Future proofing is often thought of as an internal design concept and not an external one, but there’s lots to be considered outside of the home too. Surrounding landscaping around the property is also key to longevity of use. Entrances should be accessible by pushchairs, wheelchairs and those with limited mobility, and all access points should offer a clear opening of at least 800mm with as low a threshold as possible.
Trip hazards through entry points should be avoided and pathways as smooth as possible. Drainage should also be considered in order to preserve materials in as good a condition as possible for as long as possible.
If spaces are segregated rather than open, partitions separating them out should be kept as lightweight and flexible as possible, using as few load-bearing walls as possible.
This allows for partitions to be moved or changed easily – as what spaces work for the home now may not in the future. Moving partitions can be invasive, very expensive and extremely time-consuming, so negating this job with more flexible options early on let rooms be reconfigured as and when required later on.
The way you look at your home and consider your movement through it now is likely to be different to the way you will in years to come. If you remain open-minded to this fact, your property planning can encompass future proofing easily.
As a general rule, circulation space in rooms should be kept as open as possible, appliances that interact with one another should be situated close together and storage should never be located too high or too low for an adult to comfortably reach without strain. Furthermore, ideally, all living amenities should be able to be placed easily (if they are not already) downstairs in a property so that travel up the stairs is not always a necessity – a consideration you’ll appreciate ahead of time if you pick up an injury!
Remaining open minded not to just to your own ageing but also to how this may impact on your quality of life and daily routines in your home will best position you to grow into and with your property. Future proofing will ensure transitions and developments are much easier and less stressful later; so working for it now will always pay off in the long run.
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