About a year and a half ago I posted a blog about housing trends for Seniors which included accessory dwelling units (ADU’s) like the FabCab and MEDCottage (aka Granny Pods). These self-contained units range in size from 300 to 1800 square feet, include features that support aging in place, and incorporate universal design along with electronic monitoring and medical care equipment options. All are pretty much built in a factory, prepared for on-site assembly, trucked to your location and set on a foundation. The advantages are obvious - these pre-built units take up no more space than an apartment, are easily assembled and disassembled, and allow for independence and privacy with family caregivers close at hand.
Earlier this month, the New York Times published an article, “In-the-Backyard, Grandma’s New Apartment” by SusanSeliger about the same topic with some interesting updates.
The article is about a doctor in Virginia whose parents could no longer live independently and decided to move in with her rather than an assisted living facility. The layout of her home however, proved to be physically unsuitable for her aging parents and so the family ordered a MEDCottage to be installed in the backyard. This month they will become the first U.S. customers to install this 288 sq ft pre-built, free standing unit equipped with assorted high tech devices (a hallway mat that lights up automatically as you walk on it), durable medical equipment (an integrated ceiling lift), and medical monitoring devices (technology that tracks blood pressure, glucose and heart rate and automatically shares this information with both the caregiver and the client’s physicians).
There are other prefab units on the market similar to the MEDCottage. Practical Assisted Living Structures (P.A.L.S.) are 280 sq ft, portable units that can be customized to an individual client’s needs. Some features include closet rods that can be lowered to wheelchair level, a night light system on automatic sensors, and bathrooms equipped with no-step showers and grab bars.
As for pricing, the MEDCottage costs $85,000/year new but the distributors will buy it back for $38,000 after 2 years of use. A P.A.L.S. starts at approximately $67,000 or can be leased at $1,700 per month.
Interested? You’ll first need to check your local zoning laws. At present only about half the states allow these units for family members, although there are additional states currently considering legislation that would permit backyard ADU’s.