If you’re nearing retirement, you’ve likely heard the buzz about patio homes. It seems that everywhere you turn, people are all agog over these 55+ communities.
The term patio home is not new, but it’s a blanket term that describes a style of building. Keep in mind, they’re not all built the same. Just because a home is considered a patio home, doesn’t mean that it is always ideal for seniors.
So what is a patio home, and how do we build them differently?
We’ll discuss this and more.
Buying a Slab on Grade House
What is a patio home?
Simply put, a patio home is a house built on a slab of concrete. These are also often called: slab on grade homes. Typically, they are also zero lot line homes, meaning that they often share one or more walls with their neighbor.
Now before you say, wait, isn’t a slab on grade home cheating, keep in mind, that this isn’t just a slab of concrete. In many cases, especially here in Utah, where we have frost to contend with, these homes still have a foundation that goes down, a few feet, though in warmer climates, they can be engineered to be monolith pours, which means they use a thickened slab around the edges instead of a true foundation.
In fact, there is a lot more slab on grade construction happening than you might think. Most commercial buildings are built this way.
In Utah, patio homes are becoming more relevant than in past decades. To own a patio home, means that your house does not have a basement. Your main floor is the lowest level.
Why build a slab on grade home?
“So why?” You might ask, “would I want to give up my basement for a patio home?”
That’s a good question. Here’s a few good reasons:
3. Availability of land
As buildable land along the Wasatch front decreases, we’re increasingly forced to build in areas that previously, were less desirable. These areas often had higher water tables, and with an abundance of higher land that could accommodate a dry basement, these areas were left until now for development.
Now that these parcels of land are in high demand, we are happy to build on them, but the traditional basement style home doesn’t always work out, so keeping your lowest floor above ground, is the best way to eliminate flooding potential.
2. Needless storage
There’s a growing trend to de-clutter. After the Great Depression, those who lived through it, learned to save everything. I’ve been through some of those older homes and found baby food jars from the 40’s and 50’s that were still being saved and used.
Some of their life experiences translated into subliminal lessons for their children. As a result, many people got used to collecting things and cluttering their homes. Many folks who have a basement, have waken up to realize that they aren’t even using their basement for living purposes, but rather for storing stuff.
Both them and their children are slowly coming to terms with the reality that most of that stuff is of little real value. We’re seeing more people simplifying their lives and their homes. As they do this, the massive storage units that are their basements are becoming less important.
There’s also the smaller families that Utahn’s are having. It used to be common to see 4 to 10 kids in a family. While there are still some large families growing and thriving in Utah, there seems to be less of the mega family structure. We still have larger families than the rest of the country, but the per household family size has slowly been lowering in the last few decades.
1. Easier lifestyle for seniors
One of the problems with having a basement, is the stairs. Patio homes can be great, because they significantly reduce or eliminate the need for stairs all together.
This may not be an important selling point for you at this time, but the older you get, the more you’ll appreciate the absence of stairs.
What should I look for in a patio home?
To be clear, not all patio homes are built the same. Some have multiple levels on top of each other. Some single story designs still have stairs on the exterior of the home. Construction methods also vary between builders. The biggest commonality is the concrete slab, and the shared walls.
If you’re like many of our homeowners, you’ve realized the benefit of ditching the stairs. It’s not easy to do, but we manage to find ways of building without interior or exterior stairs. Granted, sometimes we’ll build a bonus room above the garage for folks who want a little extra room and don’t mind the stairs, but for the most part, we avoid stairs if at all possible.
Another thing to look for when buying a patio home, is whether or not the builder sets the main slab inside the foundation or on top.
Many people recommend setting the slab inside, however, we find that we can give a flatter surface for your flooring if we pour the concrete on top of the foundation. Otherwise, you risk having a very rough edge to all of your tile, wood, or carpeted flooring.
One last thing you should consider when looking for a patio home. Since not all homes that are built on a ground-level slab are ideal for a seniors, some are exceptional. This is because, the presence or lack of stairs should only be one of your considerations when looking for a house to retire into.
The best part about retiring, is spending time doing things that are more fun for you. Living in a community of like-minded people is key to an even better retirement.
At Leisure Villas, we specialize in only building homes in communities that not only meet your current or future physical comforts, but that provide peace of mind and a happier, healthier lifestyle as well. We focus mainly on the Utah market, and our homeowners love these age restricted neighborhoods.
Do yourself a treat, come see how a patio home from Leisure Villas could take your already awesome life, and add a little extra flavor to your style.