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Home renovation and retirement

The housing market remains stuck deep in the doldrums. Still, there are signs of life and a growing sense that perhaps a market bottom will be reached in 2012. Of course, the market has a long way to go before it returns to health, as you can see from this graphic.

 

The remodeling market is also doing better. After a slow start, home improvement spending is expected to trend up later this year, according to the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

Even more important, the Center predicts that inflation-adjusted spending on homeowner improvements will grow at a 3.5 percent compound annual rate from 2010 to 2015. That is in sharp contrast with the 1.4 percent decline in remodeling spending from 2005 to 2010.

In Kiplinger's Remodel Your Current Home With Retirement in Mind, I argue that middle-aged homeowners should contemplate adding features that make it easy to age in place with any remodeling project. All the surveys show that aging boomers want to live in their current home when they're older.

Like other aspects of retirement, aging in place requires turning your desires into practical planning. So, as you start to weigh that remodeling project you've been putting off, don't just look at the cost of installing granite countertops in the kitchen, or dual sinks and towel warmers in the bathroom. What home improvements would make your home safer and more convenient for you in your old age? "If people are planning to stay in the home -- say, they're now 55 and they'll stay until they're 70-75 -- they should be thinking about how to make aging in place feasible," says Jon Pynoos, professor of gerontology, policy and planning at the University of Southern California.

There's no need or reason to turn your home into a sterile place -- far from it. For example, universal design is a movement for creating attractive and easy-to-use features that make life easier when a homeowner gets older. 

About the author

Chris Farrell is the economics editor of Marketplace Money.
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