Is your home “Aging-In-Place” ready?

Part 2 – Inspecting your current environment

As a “Design Professional”, it is much easier to design an Aging-In-Place (AIP) solution for a newly created design home. For instance, the first thing I have to find out from this client is how long he/she will be staying in their new home and then all I have to do is incorporate an AIP design solution that will fit their needs.

For an existing home however, it’s very different…

Here is a case study: A client wants to stay in their 1940’s suburban bungalow home. It has two bedrooms, an entryway and a porch on the east side of the home. The kitchen, dining and living room are on the west side of the home. There is only attic space on the second floor. One family member has to move around in a wheelchair and needs to get around effortlessly. Their budget is modest and the client has not been in this situation before, so they are cautious. As a design professional, what would you look for when you inspect this client’s existing environment?

The Inspection Phase

During the inspection phase, we have to be compassionate, but honest with our clients. Their home has many memories that we cannot ignore. Our objective as design professionals should be to educate our client, not just selling them a product to stay in their home. Let’s look at the case study above. There are some questions that have to be answered in order to design a quality product. The first question, is it worth investing in the client’s neighborhood? The client needs to know if they will be able to recoup their investment if they need to sell their home. Second, look at the condition of their home. For example, the home may have hidden dangers, like termites or rotted wood? What if the home has a poor maintenance record or needs to have a lead mediation? These kinds of things will eat at the cost of the remodel.

Let’s look at another issue from the case study, the family member in the wheelchair. Coming up with a design solution for both, the member in the wheelchair and the client is another thing to consider, when deciding on whether to proceed with the project. Their input will give us design professionals more insight on how we can design a solution for them.

Investigating all possible scenarios is our job.

If it can be done, go for it. If not, then don’t do it. Do not be afraid to walk away from a job, when you and the client cannot see eye to eye. Coming up with a clear, viable design solution is critical.

In the end, pretending that we can save their home no matter what; may not be good for you or the client.

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