“I’m trying to build homes that are more age-appropriate,” said Andy Bunge, a contractor in the Preston and Lanesboro area. “As our population continues to grow older, the need for more housing for older folks continues to grow. Having something a little more scaled down, all on one floor with handicapped accessible doors and bathroom fixtures is what I’ve been doing now. And having these homes in a location close to the post office, close to the downtown is also important. That’s what I’ve tried to do with this.”
“I’m trying to build homes that are more age-appropriate,” said Andy Bunge, a contractor in the Preston and Lanesboro area. “As our population continues to grow older, the need for more housing for older folks continues to grow. Having something a little more scaled down, all on one floor with handicapped accessible doors and bathroom fixtures is what I’ve been doing now. And having these homes in a location close to the post office, close to the downtown is also important. That’s what I’ve tried to do with this.”
<
1
2
>
“I’m trying to build homes that are more age-appropriate,” said Andy Bunge, a contractor in the Preston and Lanesboro area. “As our population continues to grow older, the need for more housing for older folks continues to grow. Having something a little more scaled down, all on one floor with handicapped accessible doors and bathroom fixtures is what I’ve been doing now. And having these homes in a location close to the post office, close to the downtown is also important. That’s what I’ve tried to do with this.”

Bunge was referring to the nearly-completed duplex located at 315 Center Street in Preston. The north half of the duplex is finished and was purchased recently by a couple from Milwaukee, who now call Preston “home.” The south half is in its final stages of construction, which has also been purchased. The buyers, from St. Cloud, are anxiously waiting to move to Preston. Bunge still has to put the finishing touches on the two-bedroom, 1,128-square-foot abode. The unit was sold before it was completed and the buyers had some special order items they wanted included.

Bunge said he likes to find old homes or buildings on lots that aren’t generating much property tax, raze the existing buildings and repurpose the property. He figures he can at least double the tax capacity of the property once he’s improved it. Many of the units he’s built are purchased by persons moving from other areas. In the past 25 years, Bunge has built 17 living units in Preston as well as a handful in Lanesboro.

“It’s a satisfying feeling to build something on a lot that wasn’t being used. And by building the new, I’m either keeping people in town or bringing new people to town,” Bunge explained.

“Many people who have reached retirement age are looking to downsize from that large four-bedroom home they owned for many years while raising a family,” Bunge opined. “They don’t want to have to do stairs, mow the lawn, shovel the snow. That’s what I mean by ‘age-appropriate.’ And I’m striving to keep these units affordable, as just about anyone looking at purchasing one of these is on a fixed income.”

Bunge feels offering this type of housing is a good way to attract senior citizens to the area. And the more seniors, the need for persons working in the health care fields increases. And with the need for more persons working in the health care fields, more jobs for young persons are created. Bunge feels this is a “win-win” situation for the area.

Each unit on 315 Center Street includes a large two-car garage and laminate flooring through much of the home. A heated ceramic tile floor and a zero clearance access shower are two of the amenities Bunge included in the master bathroom. A second smaller bathroom doubles as the utility room, complete with washer and dryer.

The two bedrooms feature carpeted floors and lighted spacious closets. Several large hallway closets also offer plenty of storage. The utility room, complete with the heating/cooling system, water heater and water conditioner, is located off the garage.

“This makes it a lot easier when a repairman is called. They can just come in through the garage and never have to enter the house,” Bunge noted.

The main living area is a large combination kitchen/dining area/living room. Bunge said by keeping this area devoid of walls, it makes the main living area more open and people friendly.

“This area has become such a drawing card for visitors. And when folks get here, many feel it might be the perfect place to relocate. We have low crime, are so close to Rochester, Winona, Austin, La Crosse and Luther College in Decorah, and the cost of living is much less than it is in the Twin Cities,” Bunge stated. “I’m not just building homes for retired folks. Many of the homes I build are for younger families too. But building age-appropriate homes certainly is a good niche to get into.”