Is a Vacation Home fit for Retirement Living?

This home was designed according to the Richter Design Scale for easy living in your golden years.

This home was designed according to the Richter Design Scale for easy living in your golden years.

Whether a vacation home is also good for retirement living is a concern for many people. The question is not that easy to answer. Every house is built for a special purpose and so is a vacation home. It is basically built for short-term living or possibly for a rental purpose, to get some better return of investment. A good location to entertain kids was also a consideration at the time. The amenities should be close. Since it is in most cases a summer home, the insultation is of secondary importance. It probably has only 2 x 4 exterior walls, which is not good enough for year-round living.

The owners are probably in top physical condition and don’t even think about the need for possible physical limitations, such as climbing stairs. Vacation homes are simply not built for later years in mind.

To remodel a vacation home and convert it to a suitable retirement home is sometimes impossible. I personally run into these situations quite often. Renovating or remodeling is in many cases likely but painful. It ends up never being the ideal retirement home.

People in their mid-40s or early 50s think of investing money and a vacation place comes in mind. Of course this is not the subject of this article. In my many attempts to come up with the ideal retirement home, I developed the “Richter Scale for Convenient and Suitable Living in your Golden Years”.

There are certain aspects of a retirement home, which also takes in consideration future or even temporary physical limitations. We never want to think of permanent limitations, we even deny thinking that this will ever happen to us. We hope it never will. However, temporary limitations may occur, you may break an ankle and you will be confined to a wheel chair for a few weeks or have to have other walking inconveniences.

An ideal retirement home should have all the essentials for the Activities of Daily Living (ADL) on the main floor: we are talking about kitchen with a large pantry, dining area, one bedroom, a large convenient bath room, one additional room for individual activities (the “away room”), living room, laundry, powder room and possibly a deck or porch for outdoor enjoyment. A garage on the main level with a short entry to the kitchen to unload groceries is also of utmost importance.

It is essential for a retirement home to have a separate floor for visitors. On a flat lot this is normally the second level floor. However, in our hilly area we build houses “upside down” and the second level is usually the daylight basement or “lower level”.

All the above is fairly easy to accomplish in the flat land. However, here in our mountains, this presents a challenge. Many homes have been designed and built in our resort with many of the features mentioned, which make life easy and convenient for later years.

There are many other features listed on the “Richter Scale for Convenient Living”. In fact, this list contains about 80 features. However, it is very important not to overdo things. Your retirement home should resemble a vibrant living environment and not even remotely remind anyone of an old folk’s home.

To re-purpose your vacation home for permanent living can also be accomplished by adding a wing on the main level, if the setbacks allow. Check here for more information:

The floor plan of the home shown above is available. Send me an email:, ask for plan EZ 151.

Frank Lloyd Wright: “Give me the luxuries of life and I will willingly do without the necessities.”

About Wolfgang

I love to design residential homes, and for that matter, any building. Creating a structure, putting the thoughts on paper, generate a construction drawing any builder can work from, following the building process and seeing the finished physical product - that excites me over and over again. I did project work and site management for all sizes of industrial manufacturing plants, working with people of all backgrounds and languages in Europe, Africa and Asia. Now I am downsizing, working as a solo entrepreneur in an active resort community in western North Carolina, designing easy living homes for customers looking forward to their later years in life. See their many testimonials how they like my work.
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