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  • Equitable & Inclusive is the Future of Home Building & Modifications

    Aaron Murphy

    I was just interviewed yesterday by two amazing gentlemen who took the ferry from Seattle to come meet with me in Kitsap County, in my office.? The conversation was fabulous, the questions engaging, and the communication vibrant.? The subject?? ABLE ENVIRONMENTS.? 

    That’s the name of the company that Barry Long and Tom Minty joined forces to create here in Western Washington, and they are the two gentlemen who have created and brought to market the first MLS search button for “ACCESSIBLE” as a criteria when looking for a new home on the Multiple Listing Service used by the National Associate of Realtors (NAR).? Pretty amazing work they are doing, and it was a joy and an honor to sit down with them on camera for an hour this week.? 

    I was also on a national Zoom meeting this morning with the Living in Place Institute, where the guest speaker was with a company that I’d been watching in the past few months that makes new or retrofit existing doors motorized opening.? The mount is low profile and nicely powered up to 50lbs of dead load strength, and it can be hardwired or even in a remodel or Aging-in-Place solution that is time-sensitive, simply plugged into a 110 AC outlet that is existing in your current home.? 

    Why do I bring all of this up, you may be wondering?? Because the future is here, now.? The way we’ve been building homes since the G.I. Bill coming out of WWII is officially “out of date”, by all means, and for all considerations.? The spreadsheet you received from your father when you took over his construction company, where the number at the bottom is black vs. red on the P&L, no longer allows you to put your fingers in your ears and ignore new ideas about how to build which are different from what you learned and inherited in the 90’s. The future is right in front of you, all around you.? Maybe by now you’ve heard of ChatGPT, as an example?? In terms of home, we’re first learning from taking care of our parents, then thinking about how just maybe we don’t want to do that to our own family members and children when they become our age.? This is a point of inflection, and an unprecedented opportunity staring you right in the face. 

    The “Baby Boomer” started turning 65 at a rate of 10,000 per day in January of 2011.? That will continue until 2030.? What do you think you’ll need in the next 30 years in your home, based on the rapidly changing medical and technology advancement we’ve experienced in the past 10 years?? Children born today are forecasted to live 120-150 years depending on which study you read or who you ask.? No home you are currently designing at a spec house level for the masses, considers this at any level most likely, but for sure not at the level it should be considered.? The largest growth demographic age group by percentage, from 1950-2040 is the 80+ category.? Let that sink in.?That segment alone grows from 0.5% to 5% during that time period.? Did your last home build or remodel consider that? 

    Much of what I do when I speak on the subject of Aging-in-Place locally and nationally, is admitting that as the architect with this unique skillset and extensive experience in the past 15+ years, I’m really playing quarterback and concierge.? I know about all the individual products, trends, materials, and technology that can help someone to stay home longer, safer, happier.? I can empower them to maintain their independence, autonomy, and dignity.? I can allow them to (statistically by staying home safely) live an extra 8 years of? life, and save $500,000 in retirement!? Now that is making a difference with a passion, mission, and vision for your business!? Or don’t, but your competition will, and you’ll have to accept the lost revenue & market share as a result.? That part is up to you. 

    As usual, we are behind the 8-ball.? The government has waited too long kicking the can down the road, and now they are in crisis mode nationally with a housing shortage that is appearing insurmountable without a lot of help and major changes.? But I don’t enjoy the game of policy and politics.? It feels like trying to turn an aircraft carrier with a toothpick, when I do see it in action.? Cumbersome and unattractive, from my perspective.? And it just takes way too long, and starts way too late, for my own personal preferences.? As a small business owner I just prefer to help more people “boots on the ground” with real solutions for real clients every day.? So that’s what we do, where we can make a difference in our own communities.? And that appears to be what policy makers need you to do.? They are looking to the private sector to solve their long overlooked problem.? (*Note: BIAW has many great resources about how the “cost of doing business” with your jurisdiction is an overly large % of the “dollars per door” 

    So if we are looking to help more people in more of our own communities locally, in ways that really matter and affect change, what should we be noticing?? What SELLS.? You only sell two things in life, if you sell in your business.? Either 1) A dream come true, or 2) A pain avoided.? Period.? End of sentence.? So what’s the dream, or the pain, you can help with by offering your company’s USB (Unique Sales Position)?? Ramblers sell quicker.? Primary bedroom on the main floor and open floor plan as well.? Probably because the “Boomer Consumer” is the wealthiest demographic in the history of the world.? They’ve earned more, and inherited more, than any other generation.? What are you doing to capture their attention, gain their trust and rapport, and land the sale? 

    I’d recommend that every builder be looking at the idea of creating forever homes that are equitable, inclusive, and visitable for all.? This includes the flexibility (baked in by design) for a family’s life to change and evolve, without requiring a relocation from their existing home, the ones you’re building for them for the rest of your career.? I’m guessing you have noticed by now, quite a few things have changed in the past 3 years.? How we work, where we work, who is willing to work?? Well the same is true for how we live, how we make ends meet at home, how we get our health care, who’s living in our homes (parents, boomerang kids in their 20’s due to CovID)… the lists go on and on.? 

    How will you change?? That’s the question.? How will you adapt, pivot, adjust and continue to thrive in your business.? Aging in Place solutions and home health alongside with home tech, will change the way we live, use, and interact with our homes.? Are you going to be a part of that solution, or swept to the side by unwillingness to accept change, while your competition figures it out and gets on board first?? The future, and your role in it, are up to you. 

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