When designing a retirement home, the rule is there is no rule. People moving to retirement communities, or active adult communities as they’re called in the East Valley, are diverse, often well-traveled and well-educated. They come from all over the world. Some live in their homes full time, while others split time between other homes. Some work from their home, some entertain guests frequently.
Because the buyers are so different, the builders of these communities have developed flexible floor plans.
What they do have in common is they are sophisticated homeowners.
“We offer a lot of different floor plans,” says John Sefton, general manager at Sun City Anthem at Merrill Ranch in Florence. “But if someone can’t find one they like, we like to say that if you love this community, we’ll find the home for you.”
“(Sophistication) is what the boomer generation is, and what they’re asking for,” says Sean McDonald, general manager at Trilogy at Power Ranch in Gilbert. “We try to plan thoughtfully and create a strong base for standards we include.”
Most of the homes have granite, or at a minimum Corian, in the kitchens and bathrooms. Many also have built-in spa tubs and other amenities generally found in larger luxury homes in the Valley, even if the home is 1,200 square feet.
Janice Jones of Pulte Homes says the homes in the Del Webb communities such as Sun City at Merrill Ranch and Solera at Johnson Ranch are designed with the lifestyle and interests of the people who will live there in mind, as well as the idea that a high percentage of the people who move in are buying a second home.
“Our Del Webb active adult communities are designed to promote ‘lifestyle’ in the community,” says Jones. “The interior design features promote a busy, active lifestyle, a place to relax and get away from it all as well as a home where children and grandchildren are welcome to visit and there is a space for them.”
“The size of the home does not dictate the affordability,” says Deborah Blake of Pulte Homes, where floor plans start at 1,100 square feet. “People say they want the smaller plan because that’s all they’re willing to maintain during this component of their life. They still want their goodies, though.”
Split floor plans, where the master suite is in a separate part of the house from the other bedrooms, are common in these homes.
“His and her” space is also important, says McDonald. Trilogy offers a “flex space” in one of their plans that can be used as garage space or converted into a small room at the back of the house for storage. Powder rooms can be converted to wine rooms, and formal dining rooms can become studies, or living rooms.
“It’s really about tailoring (the home) to their needs,” says McDonald.