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My involvement with Veronica and Kevin began by thinking through with them the various co-living options available to them for the next phase of their life. Kevin lives with Younger Onset Alzheimers and was diagnosed at age 56. They are both now 60.

Initially we explored how the family home might be adapted to allow another household, either family members or friends, to share the home with them. The idea was that each household could have their own independence and privacy, but there would be opportunity for them to support each other, with things like Kev's day to day needs or for Vron to help with minding of grandkids. We met regularly, talked through the various options using simple sketches, and discussed the financial and long term impacts. At the end of several months of coffees and exploration, Veronica and Kevin decided that the better solution would be to build a new small custom home, as an ancillary dwelling on their daughter's properties.

We worked together to design an initial concept, which took into account the views, solar orientation, breezes, established trees on site and how to include a spacious deck area, as this is where they intended spending a lot of time. A simple scope of architectural work was delivered initially. This included floor plans, an indicative section and an extensive written document that allowed the builders to understand the background to the project, the desired outcomes and Kevin and Veronica's specific needs. We used this to invite early tenders from three different builders. The intention with choosing this approach was to ensure we could find a builder willing and able to deliver the design within the owner's modest budget. We then worked with the selected builder, Kitco Builders, to develop the detailed design, working within their standard construction methods, range of finishes and fixtures, but also specifying items and details to suit Kev's needs, all whilst keeping a tight reign on the construction cost.

After a set of construction documents were completed, the builder was able to reprice the project. A short period of negotiations followed, where the full building scope was reviewed, and decisions were made about what to include and exclude to arrive at a construction cost and level of finish the owners were satisfied with. The owners and builder were able to enter into a building contract with confidence, with a clear scope of work and construction cost, and with a good working relationship that had been developed over the preceding months of collaboration and negotiations. This led to a smooth construction period, very adeptly managed by Ben Austin from Kitco.

I commend Veronica and Kevin on the grace and wisdom with which they handled the entire process. Not least, for having the foresight and courage to face their circumstance head on and plan for it. We will all age, and we will all invariably need some level of support, but not all will plan for this with the clear intention of designing something that meets their needs. Veronica was able to recognize that she needed help to find a solution that suited her family, and to, importantly, seek out and invest in that expertise. And to begin this process with enough time to actually carry out their ideal scenarios, rather than having their hand forced, into choosing from limited available options. The best solution was not immediately apparent when we started, but progressing step by step, and through frank conversation, research and custom design, we were able to arrive at a successful outcome. Where we live as we age is an issue that concerns many Australians, especially given some of the unpalatable options available to us now. But what Veronica and Kevin were able to demonstrate is that there are comfortable solutions available, if we are willing to examine our circumstances frankly, plan ahead, think a little outside the square, and invest in the expertise to help design a solution that fits. It was my privilege to work with them to arrive at a solution that allows them to be comfortable and supported in this next stage of their lives.

>> Please take some time to read Veronica's perspective here.


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