Saturday, July 9, 2016

"Visitability Doesn't Take A Holiday or Go On Vacation"

With the July 4th holiday just behind us, many of us had friends or family over for a cookout, barbeque, pool party, or holiday get-together. Maybe we really hadn't asked ourselves ahead of time just how well suited our home was to receive guests and visitors.

Maybe everyone that came this time was familiar with our home, and, even if it wasn't totally visitable, they were able to make it into the home or go around to the backyard and join us for the festivities. However, it might be time to make a few changes.

In good weather like it is now, people are able to take their time coming and going and navigating our home. In colder or inclement weather, this can become more of an issue. So, let's begin planning now so that we can get a jump on the year-end holidays when even more people will be visiting us.

We may not be able to make all of the changes that would really make our home homes visitable, but that doesn't mean that we can't make some of them. This is a case where any improvement is better than having it remain as it is.

As we evaluate and plan for improvements on our own homes, we can project similar changes onto the homes of clients that we have already worked with but didn't offer these solutions at the time, homes that we currently are looking at, and ones that we will be asked to work on in the future.

Regardless of what type of project, home modification, or improvement we have consulted about or asked to provide for our clients, we should notice where we can factor in a visitability upgrade and do so whenever we can.

Whether it's our own home or one that we are working on for a client, we need to begin outside and look at how easy it is for people to get from their car (in the driveway) or the sidewalk (if they park on the street or are walking from a neighboring home) to the front door. Are there challenges or obstacles to overcome - cracks, voids, spaces, or unevenness in the walking surface, changes in grade, low spots that collect water, narrow pathways, or steps? How can they be remedied - effectively and reasonably in terms of materials and budget? 

Once someone gets to the door, are they able to stand under a covering that protects they from precipitation or the hot sun? Is there sufficient room for them to gather awaiting the door to open and then enough space to move safely out of the way of the door as they enter?

Is the entry door wide enough for most people to use successfully - at least a 36" door (three feet)? Double doors that provide a five to six-foot opening are even better when there is sufficient space to accommodate them.

Once inside, there are other key areas to be aware of and address. Starting on the outside is the strategic place to begin, however. Even if the inside of the home can accommodate people as they move about, they have to get to and then through the front door before that becomes possible.

The Labor Day holiday is another pool party, cookout event - as well as the beginning of football season and all of those college and professional games on TV. This is a great time to be planning ahead.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.