Boomer Time In The Home Improvement Industry As Retirees Stay Put And Stay Young

“Aging in place” is the term used for retirees who prefer to stay in their homes. It’s been a cash cow for contractors.

By Jeff Vasishta April 10, 2017

It turns out you’re not the only one who dislikes your grandparent’s old wall paper and their 1970’s tiles. They dislike them too. Whether they’ve been binge watching HGTV or talking to their kids, the baby boomer generation are keeping contractors buoyant by turning tired to inspired and old to bold as they update their homes rather than move.

There’s a lot to be said for staying put. The house where seventy-year-olds spent most of their adult lives and raised families in a neighborhood they know so well can be a pain to leave and readjust to somewhere new. Rather than go through the expense and emotional upheaval of relocating, baby boomers are spending the cash on both cosmetic updates and alterations that will allow them to “age in place” in the advent of health issues and also have the ability to work from home.

Related: Cities Where Most Millennials Still Live With Their Parents

Some of the key features for Baby Boomer remodels are:

Home Offices

Vital for bringing in extra income past retirement age.

Tech/Media Centers

Today’s boomers have matured during the technological boom and are just as likely to have iPads as their grandkids. A wireless home network, remote control lighting and security features means they can know what’s happening in their home even when they’re on the cruise ship.

Wider Doors and Hallways

Preparation for wheelchairs, walkers and bad joints can’t be a bad thing, even if it’s a pain to think about.

Better Lighting/Bigger Windows

Poor vision comes part and parcel with aging, so shedding some light on the issue is never a bad idea. Builders are adding more windows and making them larger to let in more natural light. They are also adding more light fixtures in areas including under cabinets and in stairwells. Multiple switches to reduce the number of trips and dimmer controls to eliminate glare are other options.

Related: These Liverpool Properties Renovated By Acclaimed Architects Will Forever Be Affordable To Locals

First-Floor Bedrooms and Bathrooms

Stairs and bad knees don’t go together. Falls and broken bones are a major issue for seniors, so adding master bedrooms on a lower level is a no brainer. More than 40 percent of new homes have master suites downstairs, a 15 percent increase over a decade ago. Throw a walk-in shower and closets into the mix, and they may even forget they had an upstairs.

Easy to Maintain Exteriors/Landscaping

Mowing the lawn can become tedious for the able bodied let alone the elderly. Grass is being replaced with living patios, decorative landscaping, or flower beds which can be a hobby for gardening enthusiasts.

Baby boomers have hardly been shy and retiring when it comes to fixing up their homes. A report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University forecasts that homeowners 65 and older will account for one-third of all improvement expenditures by 2025, more than double their share from 1995-2005.

“A large share of these households live in older homes in the Northeast and Midwest, where the housing stocks have few if any universal design features,” the study said.

It’s meant that a large section of the home improvement industry now markets exclusively to an aging population, a sea change from the millennial heavy marketing of the last few years. However, when millennials get a grip on student loans and their careers, expect the pendulum to change again.

“A members of the millennial generation start to move into their peak spending years over the coming decade, their decisions to form households, get married, start families, and buy homes will increasingly set the pace of the remodeling market expansion,” the report states.

Jeff Vasishta



Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

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