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Insights | 21st Feb 2024

What Makes a Great Senior Living Builder

Tips for Senior Living Construction with Senior Superintendent Andy Murray 


The decision to move to a senior living center is never easy, whether by choice or necessity. It means leaving a home for something unfamiliar or trusting your loved ones to someone else’s care. As a general contractor, it is our responsibility to understand this concept and work with our client to develop the best final building possible. Although senior living construction can be similar to multifamily construction, there is much more to consider to ensure that the final product is safe, welcoming, and high quality.

Early Collaboration

Understanding the senior living center business is key. Oftentimes, the owner of the building will not be the final operator for the building, opting instead to work with a specialized senior living operator. This operator should be involved early in the project so they can build a solid understanding and knowledge of the building’s systems – our recommendation is to bring them in at system start-up. Most senior living centers comprise three types of units: independent living, assisted living, and memory care. Each unit has a specific purpose and functionality to provide appropriate care for the residents. These all need to be carefully planned to ensure they have the correct ventilation and thoughtful location. Mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems are essential to the ultimate function of the final space and can be the difference between a safe, comfortable unit and one that creates discomfort or hazards for its residents. Bringing the operator in early allows them to develop a complete understanding of the systems and gives them several opportunities to ask questions so that they are experts by the time the first resident moves in. This way, the system and building can fade to the background and the staff can focus on providing the best care possible.

Client Trust

Moving into a senior living center can be a stressful experience, but the contractor can help ease some of the fears. Future residents make decisions based on the promises we make. The move-in date that we set with the schedule impacts their current situation, whether they are selling a home or planning on receiving full-time care. The Haselden team monitors the schedule closely to ensure we are hitting critical dates and can adjust accordingly when unexpected items come up. To help future residents or caretakers picture their space, we build a mock-up unit onsite that mirrors the building units. This helps residents to plan for what they might need, giving them more peace of mind.

Accessibility Planning

In a building where the majority of residents will need some type of accessibility accommodation, ADA compliance is an important consideration. This is especially true when converting existing buildings to senior living centers, as the prior building will likely require certain changes to bring it up to code. An ADA Consultant should review the plans at 100% DDs and 100% CDs for any oversights or issues. This ensures that the entire team has a full understanding of the accessibility goals from day one and reduces the chances of mistakes later. Accessibility goes beyond correct grading or large enough spacing between elements. There are little details that, if missed, can make everyday life hard for those with limited mobility – even the countertop heights and toilet paper roll spacing can present challenges if not installed correctly.

A general contractor is your partner throughout the entire construction process. When we do what we say we are going to do, it builds trust so we can create a successful project for both the end user and the clients. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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