As baby boomers move into the golden years of their lives, the idea of building a retirement home has a whole lot of appeal.
Just as a general note, please don’t confuse retirement home with nursing home. Not yet, at least. Here, we’re talking about the house that you’re going to build for yourself and your spouse to spend the best years of your life in. When we say retirement home, we want it to mean nothing short of the most incredible living space you’ve ever owned.
For some baby boomers moving into the golden years of their lives, the idea to build a final home is top of mind. Whether it’s downsizing, moving to a different area, or simply that you’re ready for something new, there’s a lot of appeal in building a retirement home.
So after making the easy decisions like where and when you want to build, then it’s time to decide on the style of home you want to spend your days in. Is it going to be custom? Would you rather retire into a neighborhood composed of tract houses?
Since this is to be your final house, might as well make it count. Hiring a custom home builder will allow you to have everything you’ve ever wanted. If you love to cook, then build that kitchen. A good custom builder will take your dreams and make them a reality. Plus, you’re going to help in making every single decision along the way. Hey, you’re retired, or at least nearing it, and you’ve got the time to do it.
Building A Retirement Home
There’s this concept out there among home builders called the universal design. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) defines it as “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.”
As you may know, we’re a custom home building company in Athens, Alabama, and the custom home building process means that we build your house your way. We don’t believe in a universal design because not everybody wants the same thing, especially when it comes to building a retirement home.
Living situations change as life evolves. Unless you’re Strom Thurmond, your children likely don’t reside at home when you reach retirement age, so the need for more than two bedrooms is no longer a priority. Open floor concepts and one-story living may be desirable for you, but by no means constitutes a “retirement home.” A lot of homes we build for retirees have multiple stories, whether a basement or upstairs, but the majority of what they need is on a central floor.
Make it Count
If you’re building your final home, make it count. Consider the amenities and luxuries you wish you had on your current house and put them on the list. If you want to spend the days training bird dogs, build on a lot that offers a big back yard with plenty of room for kennels. If you love to cook, build that custom kitchen with stainless steel, gas appliances. If you want an island in the middle of the kitchen that’s made out of solid oak to serve as a chop block, we will build it for you. The list of options is endless when you choose a custom home builder.
Pick Your Spot
As senior level members of the Huntsville and Madison workforces begin retiring, a lot of them are looking just west to Athens, Alabama, which is considered one of the best places to live in Alabama. It’s central to everything. Close to great restaurants, shopping, and recreation.
That said, wherever your choice spot is, a lot of folks nearing retirement age enjoy moving closer to their children, many of whom are in the process of building their own families. As Mark Wills sang in his song Jacob’s Ladder, “nothing warms the heart like a grandchild will.”
Other Concepts to Consider
Other concepts to consider when building a retirement home include no-steps and no-threshold entrances, wide hallways and doorways, adjustable overhead lighting for bright or dim, accessible storage space, no-threshold shower with a seat, and raised electrical outlets. If you’re into technology, you could have your house set up so that all electronics, including the lights, are voice controlled. Don’t feel like getting up from the recliner, to dim the lights, don’t have to.
Build or Buy Before Retiring
Here’s an option. Let’s say you want to retire on a Friday and begin living the lifestyle on Saturday. Perhaps your road is to build or buy a retirement home before retiring. So what are the pros and cons?
Building a retirement home before getting the golden watch will definitely allow you to move stress free into your new lifestyle. It’s already waiting, set up for you to step right in to. You can also take more time to consider where you want to be, who you want to build the house, and exactly what features you want with it.
Consider the where. Say you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and move to a small town. Or perhaps more of a vacation location like the lake, river, or beach is right up your alley. This place could initially serve as your weekend home; you could travel there when you have time to make updates or relax. If it’s in a really cool place, rent it out. In this day and age, travelers prefer to stay in an Airbnb or VRBO rather than a hotel. Depending on where the house is located, rental income can pay the mortgage and offset future construction and update costs.
Since the plan is to move there full time once you’ve retired, your current home becomes a huge asset. That money will go a long way in paying down the mortgage and/or construction costs once it is sold. Many folks who are nearing the retirement age owe little to nothing on their current homes, therefore having built a ton of equity.
Another point to think about is the rising cost of real estate. Again, this will depend heavily on where you’re planning to build. But if you look at new construction nationwide in July 2020, it was up 23%. This is a mix of baby boomer retirements and the mass exodus of cities following Covid-19.
New construction is exciting too! It’s natural for someone to imagine how their life is going to look in a million different ways when they’re in the process of building a new house. So maybe building rather than buying is the end game for you no matter where you decide to go.
Alright. Let’s look at the downside of building a retirement home before actually retiring. If you work a stressful job that requires long hours, the time you’ll spend planning and building a house could severely limit your freedom. Homes are not built in a controlled environment, meaning that natural disasters like weather can totally disrupt and delay the process; your retirement home may not be ready to live in when you are ready to move. Choosing a home builder, which we’ll talk about in a minute, is incredibly important. If they have a history of taking 14-18 months building a single house, get out of there quickly! An experienced builder will have you living in your new home in 8-10 months. While this doesn’t cancel out weather and other elements, it can definitely help mitigate it. The good thing for home builders in Alabama is that our climate is pretty mild and doesn’t hinder our work too much.
There’s also the chance of having to include a bank in the deal. If the sale of your current home is going to pay for your retirement home, then you may not be ready to start the building process. When you sell your current home though, you can always roll the equity into the mortgage and maybe even pay it off if your profit is enough.
In the end, it’s really up to your financial situation and if you want to bring on a bank. Kenny Winter, who is the CEO of Winter Homes, worked early in his career as a banker. He knows the process as well as the right mortgage folks who can help you if you need it.
Choosing a Home Builder
Building a retirement is probably going to be the last great monetary investment you make. You’ve defined your needs already. You have an idea of where you want to build and what type of house you’d like. Now, it’s time to go out and find a home building company to do it for you.
A good home building company will go out of their way to make sure all your needs and wants are met. Together, they will work with you to create your dream home. Some experienced custom home builders, like Winter Homes, can take your thoughts and ideas and turn them into a floorplan, if you haven’t gotten that far in the process.
Research is paramount. Be ready to gather testimonials, both online and word of mouth; check out portfolios, warranty programs, and take walk throughs. Eventually, do a sit-down interview with the builders who’ve made the first round of cuts. You’ll know in the first 10 minutes whether it’s going to be a good working relationship.
Of course, no matter what product or service a company provides, they will never find a stronger marketing tool than word of mouth. Seek out current customers of home builders in your area and ask. Most of the time, local real estate agents will be able to assist you with this. If they’ve worked with a lot of builders, they’ll be able to give you some insight as well as provide a few references. Shoot, if a builder isn’t shy about giving you names of past clients, that speaks volumes! You’ll likely find that folks who’ve just built their own home are happy to share their experience.
Speaking of experience, a builder’s experience is something to consider greatly. A reputable home building company should typically have a decade in business under its belts. But, at the same time, don’t overlook the fact that an experienced builder may be behind a brand new company. Regardless, find a seasoned veteran who has built the type of home you want many times over.
Check out their portfolios. While most builders have a variety of designs and styles in their portfolios, focus on those whose work is most closely aligned with your desires.
Take a tour of a recently completed house. Or, if possible, see about touring an occupied dwelling. This is one of the most important steps in that there is no substitute to seeing the finished product. Here, you can get a feel for the quality of the home. Not only will you learn about the builder, you’ll also see amenities and styles you may want to include in your own home.
A home builder who involves you in nearly every step of the home building process clearly has nothing to hide. If you’re retired, you have the time to spare. Seek out these builders who look to you as a partner and value your thoughts along the way. On the flip side, great builders appreciate loyalty and won’t take for granted your trust in them to deliver what they’ve promised.
Last but not least, how is the builder’s warranty set up? The last thing you want to do is spend your free time fixing up petty things that the builder screwed up or completely overlooked. We’re aware that there’s a stigma among construction companies that once your warranty runs out, usually after 30 days, you’ll never hear from the builder again. That’s why we offer a one-year warranty, because we stand behind the value of our work. We think there’s a lot of value in that.
North Alabama Custom Home Builder
If you’re ready to build a custom home in the Limestone or Madison County area, give us a shout. Even if you’re looking for homes for sale in Athens, AL, or surrounding areas like Madison or Huntsville, we can help you there too. Our team has deep roots and a wide knowledge of the area that we’re always happy to share!