Interest in elevators is going up

The "Stairway to Heaven" generation may soon have to make room for elevators. Builders are. And eventually, so too will baby boomers who decide to stay put in their homes.

Retirees who choose new retirement and resort-style communities will increasingly find elevators (and walk-in showers) in the homes, as builders give buyers the square footage they want but with an eye toward long-term needs, said Dave Kosco of Bassenian Lagoni Architects.

"Cost is still a concern, but when you measure the price of land against the price of a private elevator, the cost may not be as big of a concern," Kosco said.

Likewise, older retirees are finding that an investment in a home elevator is worthwhile if it allows them to stay put in mortgage-free homes, said Alan Nevin, director of Economic Research at MarketPointe Realty Advisors. Residential elevators run from $10,000 to $25,000, Nevin said, and can be unobtrusive.

They may even become an easy add-on in some floor plans. Nevin worked on a feasibility study for a builder who planned to align and construct a set of first- and second-floor closets so they could be switched out to house an elevator.

"The reality is that most folks in the over-55-year-old age range in California own their home outright," Nevin said. "And they have no intention of leaving. Ever."

Residential elevators are quieter and less clunky-looking than their predecessors, Nevin said. He predicts they'll continue to improve, boosting the growing trend toward aging in place. Eventually, even for those forever-young boomers.

-- Dawn Bonker

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