Empty Nest Filling Up? Here’s Help.October 7, 2010
They call it the “Inspired In-Law” but I was more than just inspired when I saw it. I was gobsmacked. This cute little house was assembled in just one day?
Yes, it was. The pieces of this handsome pre-fab cottage were trucked in on Wednesday, craned into place Thursday and then the house was erected that same day. There it was, all put together and sitting in the parking lot at Fort Mason in San Francisco, ready for me to see it at the West Coast Green building festival. And I was inspired when I walked inside. This cottage is awash with sunshine (thanks to great window placement), beautifully detailed, and so well laid out that I could imagine myself living there.
While I’m having my own housing issues at the moment, the 500-square foot cottage was meant to solve the problems of folks a bit older than me.
Specifically, what do you do when mom is really no longer able to live alone, but is dead set against going to a “old folks” home? Here’s a relatively affordable alternative. Depending on options you choose, the cottage will run from $50,000 and $100,000. (In the Bay Area, where I live, you can’t buy a garage for that!)
When I wrote about the Inspired In-Law for the San Francisco Examiner recently, my Facebook pal Coral Chang noted, “It would be just as good for when your kids want to move back home.” Coral is right. Given the economy, kids are moving back to the parental nest more often than they used to: a 2009 survey found that 80% of new college grads moved back to their parent’s homes after getting their diplomas. That’s quite a jump from the 63% who did so in 2006.
As for mom and the old folks’ home, I can relate. The AARP’s most recent poll says that a whopping 89% of baby boomers and seniors do not want to move, but rather to stay home and “age in place.” I count myself in the majority on this particular issue.
Whatever the age of the person who’s extending the family, this in law unit can enable everyone to live together without having to live on top of one another.
No matter which of the four floor plans one might choose, the cottage offers up a complete little home with a separate entrance, a living room and bedroom, a kitchenette and a bathroom.
The Inspired In-Law was beautifully designed by Larson Shores Architects, who created it with an eye to both environmental and human sustainability. Inside, the cottage is finished with handsome and eco-friendly materials and details that promote better light, better indoor air quality, and better mobility. For example, the bathroom sink is configured so that it can be used by someone seated in a wheelchair, as is the “roll-in” shower. The windows are placed to maximize natural light, minimizing the need for artificial lighting during the day and improving safety for those with dimming vision.
Among the earth-friendly materials used in the Inspired In-Law’s bathroom is handsome Hakatai glass mosaic tile. (Long-time readers of this blog may remember me waxing poetic over the beautiful colors of their Calliope collection of mosaics.)
Among the green materials used in the cottage are cork flooring – springy and easier on aging knees than wood or tile – and Kelly Moore Enviro Coat paint, which limits off-gassing of toxic VOCs (volatile organic chemicals). Because the builders have avoided products containing VOCs and formaldehyde, the cottage provides a healthier environment for those suffering from asthma and allergies.
Among the in law’s other green features are a solar energy unit, rain water collection cisterns and a wall garden.
The in-law unit is a pre-fabricated cottage that can be purchased and installed in your back yard.
Given the time needed for arranging utilities, site preparation and planning, the units typically take about a month and half to put in place.
Plans for the four different types of cottages are available online from HousePlans.com for around $3000.
A Little Reverie
When I get older, losing my hair
Many years from now,
Will you still need me?
Will you still feed me?
When I’m sixty-four?
Sigh. I remember all too clearly when 64 was “many years from now.” And when George Orwell’s “1984” sounded futuristic. Who knows where the time goes?