When it comes to any type of home assessment, but particularly for our aging-in-place clients, there are three major areas of concern that lead the list of possible repairs in a home. After making sure that these "big 3" are taken care of, we can move on to other areas.
It's not that the big 3 need to be dealt with on each remodeling or renovation issue. it's that they need to be inspected and evaluated. If they pass the test as still being functional and effective, we can move on. If they need attention, then they take top priority - in this order: roofing, flooring, and lighting. All other features fall into place after these three are determined to be OK, or they are scheduled for repair.
Roofing protects the home. It is like the umbrella. If it allows the home or anything inside to get wet, this is not good. Just as we are unhappy when we are caught in a rain storm without an umbrella or head covering, homes don't do well in the rain when the roof systems leak, sag, or otherwise are inadequate.
Roofs, as pretty as they are when they are installed, don't last forever. They look pretty when they are new, but the sunshine, rain, snow, wind, and other elements take their toll. After years of service - depending on the quality of them when they were new, how long they are designed to last, how well they well installed, and the climate and weather patterns where a particular home is located - the shingles exceed their design capability and fail to offer any more protection.
Thus, roofing is priority number one. It protects everything below it.
At the other end of the spectrum in a home is the flooring. Depending on whether the flooring is installed over a concrete slab, crawl space, or basement, it doesn't necessarily sit right at ground level. Nevertheless, it is walked on daily and must be up to the challenge of all those foot impressions.
Of course, there are different type of floor coverings and flooring material, and not every area of the home will receive the same amount of foot traffic - whether just from the occupants of the home (including any pets) or from guests and neighbors also.
Flooring that is noticeably worn, uneven, or unstable will need to replaced. Also, high or rough transitions between rooms or flooring products will need to be addressed and resolved to eliminate tripping issues.
Then, there is lighting as the third part of the "big 3." This makes the home functional, promotes safety, allows the occupants to see where they are going and what they are doing in the home, and adds atmosphere to the home. When lighting is inadequate or harsh - creating unlit areas, shadows, or glare - it needs to addressed. Supplemental lighting, replacement of fixtures and bulbs (especially with LEDs), or new layouts might be needed.
Clearly there are more issues and areas of the home to examine and consider than these three, but these are major areas of safety, comfort, and well-being in the home. We would do well to check on them each time we are asked to evaluate a home.