Vienna Ted Rogers, 73, recently completed a senior-friendly makeover to his home, with the help of a master builder to meet his often challenging technical requirements.
Rogers, a former Navy pilot, had lived in 18 houses all over the world before settling in a circa 1960s ranch in Vienna with his wife and children in the early 1980s. The traditional brick rambler had previously been owned by a local farmer whose family had worked a nearby spread for generations.
The house was conventional, but solidly constructed. Still, as Rogers and his wife, Wanda, settled into their 70s they recognized several aspects of the home that wouldn't be ideal in retirement.
“We were looking for long term comfort and security,” said Rogers. “That meant the usual wish-list — upgraded kitchen, larger master bedroom suite.”
Then, too, the master shower would be a “roll-in” design, suitable for a wheelchair if needed.
Doors and hallways would be wider, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act specifications. There would be convenient grab bars near the tub.
“But I also insisted on a way to keep our systems operating in the event of a power failure,” said Rogers. “We're a bit off the main road and have been through long outages. You want to avoid this kind of thing as you get older.”
Complicating matters were several technical questions. For instance: what was the appropriate size and performance capability of a home generator adequate for powering the substantially enlarged home the Rogers now envisioned?
“The more I looked into it, the more I realized that there are a lot of issues with home generators that have to be worked out between the contractor and the gas company,” Rogers recalled.
“I was aware of plans like mine that hadn't worked well for the homeowner. I wanted enough power to keep the house running for days at a time, but the technology is still evolving and relatively few contractors have mastered it.”
It was at this juncture that Rogers met David Foster, president of Foster Remodeling Solutions in Lorton, a veteran builder with a track record in home generator solutions.
“David came highly recommended, but it was meeting him that proved decisive,” said Rogers. “His love of building impressed me. As we started walking through the house together, I could see that he understood my vision.”
THE STARTING POINT: a 2,553 square-foot, three-bedroom ranch on two acres, and a conversation regarding the best options for accommodating a master bedroom suite, a spacious gourmet kitchen, a two-car garage with a second floor studio and a home generator adequate for powering everything for days a time without need for refueling.
“The call for a generator in a retirement dream home struck a chord with me” said Foster. “We have a sizable seniors clientele, so I've been steadily servicing the growing demand for this type of application — absorbing the learning curve just as the problems with the power grid have become apparent to everyone.”
In Rogers’ case, Foster specified a state-of-the-art unit, one powerful enough to run all of his client's electrical needs for about a week without changing gas or oil.
And the timing couldn't have been more perfect.
Shortly after the project's completion in spring 2012, the now-infamous derecho in early July blacked-out large sections of Fairfax County for five memorably hot and humid days.
“We were actually out of town when the power failed,” said Rogers. “But when I walked through my front door two days into the outage, my generator was on, the house was cool, and all the electrical systems were working just fine.”
The rest of the neighborhood was another story.
“My neighbor's basement flooded when his sump pump stopped,” said Rogers. “People were dealing with spoiled food, no lights, no phone — and no air conditioning during some of the hottest temperatures in years.”
Ever the good neighbor, Rogers organized a relief effort at once, supplying power support where needed, even clearing refrigerator space so nearby friends could preserve their frozen foods.
“We'd invite neighbors to sit in the air conditioning, and watch the news or check their emails. We were like a local community center,” he said.
The larger satisfaction to Rogers, though, is that his computer, internet and security systems continued to perform as usual. “It's a relief to know that you're connected to the outside world — especially in an area-wide emergency. Five days is a long time to be cut off.”
Staff at Foster Remodeling Solutions periodically offer workshops on home remodeling topics. Call 703-550-1371 or visit www.FosterRemodeling.com.