Homes often require some improvements to become suitable for aging in place. These adjustments vary based on personal needs. Some situations require just a ramp or grab bars installed. Others need to undergo a larger renovation. It may involve expanding doorways, plumbing to replace a bathtub with a walk in shower, or even a home addition. Not all of these changes are DIY-friendly. You’ll need to find a home remodeling contractor to get the job done. But not every general contractor understands the concept of aging in place construction or knows how to prepare a home for this transition.
Your contractor should know about products and design ideas available for a home improvement project that upgrades the residence for those with limited mobility or other health conditions. They may partner with an occupational therapist or other expert. This professional will assess what limitations the customer has now and may develop later.
Use these tips to find the right remodeling contractor for the type of project. With their help, you can remodel your home for accessibility, safety, and comfort.
Check Their Qualifications
Choosing a contractor or handyman depends on the type of project you require, as some have years of experience narrowly defined by the work available in their location. First and foremost, verify the builders license and his insurance. Second, it’s important to check whether a builder is a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS). Training for this certification covers everything a contractor needs to know when handling home modifications that help seniors age in place.
When talking to a reputable contractor, at a bare minimum find out the type of home improvement project or new construction they have done for homeowners to modernize a home for aging in place.
Ask about Their Experience
An experienced general contractor has already seen what issues can come up when making home improvements for aging in place. Ask contractors about projects they’ve completed that are similar to what you need. Ask about their subcontractors, and how long they have worked with them. Possibly even ask for a reference from one of their suppliers.
Reach out to their past client homeowners to see how the job went. Ask if they think the contracting company was a good fit and if the entire job went as expected. If you don’t get positive referrals from satisfied customers look for an alternate contracting company.
Ask about Universal Design Construction
How does a builder make a plan for an aging in place remodel? One method is to consult the principles of Universal Design construction.
Universal Design construction creates spaces where everyone can live in place comfortably, regardless of ability or mobility.
Talk to your contractors about their experience adhering to Universal Design principles. And ask about the following changes that can be made to various rooms:
- Installing grab bars, rails, and no-slip flooring.
- Exploring different accessible tub, bath and shower options.
- Changing the height of the toilet and sink .
- Creating cabinetry for accessible storage.
- Making a room addition or adding an in-law-suite.
- Adding a bathroom to the first floor if one is not already present.
- Widening doorways .
- Replacing doors .
- Lowering the height of appliances, cabinets, and countertops as part of a kitchen remodel .
- Replacing flooring and/or installing no-slip flooring or more consistent flooring throughout kitchen and dining room area.
- Adding lighting, heating, and cooling options at more accessible heights.
- Upgrade to handles and knobs.
- Adding ramps or chair lifts.
- Installing home monitoring systems .
Think You’ve Found a Remodeling Contractor?
Once you’ve found someone who’s a fit, there are a few things to remember.
Shopping Around Is Okay – In Fact, They Want You To
Why would a general contractor want you looking into the competition?
Because they want happy clients. And if you’ve really done your homework and still decided to choose them, you’re less likely to second-guess yourself once the work has begun. Look for a fair price, not the lowest bid. Remember you are buying a service, hiring someone that can advise you about what is needed to remodel a home for aging in place.
So look around. Make sure you truly feel comfortable with a contractor before getting started.
Change Orders Happen
Many people find it difficult to trust contractors for the same reason it’s hard to believe in auto mechanics. You feel like you know just enough to worry that you’re being cheated.
This is a totally understandable fear. After all, it’s both your money and your home. And no one likes feeling as if they have no control over a situation.
Unfortunately, this is exactly how you might feel if you start getting change orders from your contractor – along with the price hikes that accompany them.
But there’s something you should understand. Good general contractors hate change orders, too.
They know how change orders make clients feel. They work hard to account for all possible work in their contract to avoid having to issue a change order.
Unfortunately, though, it isn’t possible to prepare for everything. Even the most thorough project manager sometimes encounter surprise issues in the course of a job.
If you’re hit with a change order, you should absolutely ask your contractor about it. And you should expect a clear, rational answer. But please don’t accuse them of trying to cheat you.
Remember, there’s a reason you were so thorough yourself when choosing a contractor. You wanted someone you believed in. Someone you trusted.
Contractors who routinely falsify change orders to jack up the bill don’t stay in business long. Trust yourself and your vetting process.
They Want You to Be Specific and Exacting
You may feel like you’re being annoying if you come to a remodeling contractor with a 99-point plan that details exactly how you want everything to happen. Or if you’re continually making phone calls for changes and fixes during the home renovation.
This can slow a job down, and lead to cost revisions that were not planned for in the original proposal. But good contractors would rather you be specific about what you want – and what you don’t like.
Because doing things right the first time or fixing issues for clients while the job is still ongoing is way to earn satisfied customers.
Ready to Find the Right Aging in Place Contractor for You?
The safety of your loved ones is our top priority. Start planning and renovating today to ensure peace of mind and a happy home tomorrow. Reach out to Live in Place Designs to learn more.