With a reputation as one of the best places to live in the United States, Ann Arbor has established itself as a special town comprised of many unique and vibrant neighborhoods. From Water Hill to Burns Park to the Old West Side, each community has a charm all its own, given shape by the architectural style, the landscape, and the neighbors themselves. If you have owned your home for many years, your connection to the house goes beyond the four walls and a yard. You have deep roots in the neighborhood itself. 


But as homeowners reach a certain age, their desire to stay in their neighborhood compete with issues of accessibility and mobility. Stairs become a challenge. The prospect of accommodating a wheelchair becomes tenuous. As a result, homeowners face the possibility of leaving the home and the neighborhood they had hoped to live in for the rest of their lives. 

New questions arise:


  • Do we have to move into a retirement community?
  • Are there any accessible homes elsewhere on the market?
  • Could we remodel our home so that we can age gracefully in place?

Only about one percent of existing homes are conducive to aging in place, which makes the possibility of finding an accessible home a challenge. However, it’s almost always possible to remodel your home with accessible design in mind. Giraffe Design-Build has helped many homeowners to transform their current home into their forever home.


Aging in Place in Ann Arbor

Scott and his wife are empty nesters in a rural home whose grandchildren frequently come to visit. Scott has had three hip surgeries and walks with a cane, and he anticipates eventually using a wheelchair. Sarah and Scott want to enjoy their house for the rest of their lives, but their bedroom is on the second floor. They came to Giraffe looking for a way to age in place. We’re currently in the process of converting their existing garage into a master bedroom suite on ground level, so they don’t have to climb the stairs every day.

One of our clients is a physical therapist who lives in downtown Ann Arbor. She has several friends who are immobile, and is thinking about her own aging and the possibility of becoming immobile at some point. She wants her new house to be entirely accessible by design—for her sake, and so her friends can enjoy it as well. She wants this to be her last home and she is thoughtfully anticipating what her new home will need to provide. After extensive research, she approached Giraffe with a concept for a showcase project of accessible design.

These people trusted Giraffe to provide accessible design while enjoying a beautiful home that reflects their aesthetic sensibilities. As with all of our clients, we approached these projects with a blend of inspired design and empathy for the homeowners’ hopes and aspirations. With a sensitivity toward their concerns and yearnings, we were able to deliver beautiful solutions that will keep our clients in their own homes for years.


Questions About Remodeling for Accessibility

Many people come to us hoping to remodel their inaccessible house so they can stay in their own home for many years. But they often have questions and concerns about what an accessible home renovation might mean for them. Let’s address a few of the most common questions we hear.  


Can our two-story home be made accessible?

The Ann Arbor market features many single-story ranch houses, which lend themselves toward remodeling for aging in place. But in general, multi-story houses can also be made more accessible to allow you to enjoy your home at any age.

The designers at Giraffe will work within your home’s constraints to present inspired solutions that minimize areas of transition in your home. While a multi-story concept can present particular accessibility challenges, more often than not we can find solutions to meet your needs.


Will an accessible home look geriatric?


Your home is an oasis from the outside world. It’s a reflection of your own personality and it should feel like a sacred space. An accessible house that has an institutional aesthetic no longer fulfills the greater purpose of a home.

At Giraffe, we always design from an aesthetics approach. We take very seriously the faith that our clients place in us to deliver a design that will inspire joy and create delight. Out of that sense of responsibility, we design accessible solutions that are just as beautiful as any other home. From our perspective, accessibility is just another component of good design.


How will accessibility affect our home’s resale value?

Most homeowners want an accessible home they can stay in forever, but they also want their investment to pay off if they do sell. 

If an accessible house is designed with excellence and built with craftsmanship, the value will actually increase, because accessibility has been thought about from a design-first perspective. There are very few homes on the market that allow you to age in place, and your home will fill a niche that few people have intentionally addressed—yet there is a growing demand for it. 


Make Your House a Forever Home

Giraffe Design-Build has a depth of expertise in accessibility and we have designed multiple homes that incorporate inspired accessible design. Designer Jason Ennis has a commercial background, which requires complying with Federal ADA laws. All of our designers have a strong background in accessible design and expertise in the field. 

When we work with a homeowner to help them age in place, we listen to their individual needs, concerns and dreams for their home. With great care and attention to their priorities, we present individualized solutions for their living situation. Through an iterative process, we invite their feedback and refine it until our client is delighted with the design.

If you’re looking for a way to age gracefully in place, Giraffe can develop custom designs that address all of your accessibility needs for years to come. Let’s start a conversation!