No doubt fixing up existing homes to make them safer and more accessible for seniors will represent a large opportunity area for remodelers in the near future. A 2007 NAHB survey found 72 percent of remodelers reporting modifying homes for aging-in-place needs, up from 60 percent in 2006.

But retrofits aren’t the industry segment trending toward universal design. Several states and jurisdictions have enacted “visitability” standards that require builders of new homes to incorporate features such as ground-level entries, wider halls, and roomier half baths on the first floor—the thinking being that homes should be accessible not only to the families who live in them, but also to visiting friends and kin. 

One recent report from AARP’s Public Policy Institute found that homes with barrier-free ground floors are becoming more commonplace in areas such as Atlanta; Tucson, Ariz.; San Antonio; and Birmingham, Ala., where local and state ordinances now require them under some circumstances. Currently, 11 states and 24 communities have visitability mandates for certain types of new construction. The majority of such initiatives apply to homes built with public funds, although some locales with large senior populations—including Pima County, Ariz.; Naperville, Ill.; Bolingbrook, Ill., Arvada Co.; and Lafayette, Co.—have regulations that now apply to all new homes

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Atlanta, GA.