Baby boomers are … well, booming when it comes to home sales.

So reports the National Association of Realtors. Boomers now make up a whopping 39% of all home buyers, up from 29% last year. As trends go, it’s a huge one.

For builders, it means universal design principles have taken on even more importance. Boomers looking to buy their forever home – most likely in an all-cash, no-loan transaction – are thinking aging-in-place. Universal design simplicity, convenience, and flexibility plays to the surging market’s sweet spot.

What are universal design essentials? One of the National Association of Home Builders’ top aging-in-place authorities suggests these 15 must-have features in targeting age 50-plus buyers.

Number one is no surprise to seasoned builders: no-step entry to the home.

No-Step Entry

No-step entry makes perfect sense for home buyers of any age. Younger buyers will appreciate easy in-and-out for strollers, furniture, and appliances. A step-free entrance is imperative for baby boomers. A near-flat sill system minimizes tripping hazards and supports a wheelchair, walker, or cane for elderly family members today or aging homeowners tomorrow.

Just one thing: Sills designed for no-step applications typically leak air and water. Ask any contractor that routinely installs ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)-compliant sill systems, the standard for no-step entry thresholds. They’re a callback nightmare, often leading to water-damaged subfloors, flooring, trim, drywall, and interior finishes. No one has figured out how to create a water-rated no-step sill system.

Callback Worries

Adam Kendall has given this lots of thought. As the product engineering director for building product manufacturer Endura, he knows current no-step sill technology is a non-starter for architects, builders, remodelers, contractors, and pre-hung door specialists.

“Contractors equate no-step door sills to poor performance. They’ll try all sorts of ways to improvise solutions, like over-caulking,” Kendall explains. “Up to now, nothing works.”

Water-Rated Breakthrough

Underline the words ‘up to now.’ Kendall and his design team have reimagined the no-step door sill. Take the sill underside. Structural voids and cavities once promoted water infiltration. New water-rated sill design seals water off with an innovative underside caulking strip.

“That’s just the beginning. A breakthrough modular approach lets installers easily adapt the sill to the flooring application, such as laminates, tile, or vinyl. Weakness at the jamb base and sill edge disappear,” he adds. Other innovations include:

  • A sealing beak fitted beneath the weatherstrip to block upward hydraulic pressure
  • Jamb boot and sealing gasket to block moisture movement between sill and jamb
  • Switchable sill cap to conform to the flooring application – laminate, tile, or vinyl
  • Inswing and outswing applications as well as sill extenders
  • Specialty bulb cap options are also available (not ADA-compliant)

The new ADAptive Sill System, as the system is called, represents a universal design advance that takes water-related callbacks off the table.

“This is the first and only no-step sill solution that’s water-rated up to DP35, depending on the application,” Kendall says.

“Builders can now confidently offer one of universal design’s most compelling features without callback worries.”

Learn more about enhancing your homes for baby boomers with a water-rated, no-step sill system.