Friday, November 11, 2016

"There Is Plenty Of Expertise Available If We Are Willing To Embrace It"

When we are contacted by a potential client who requires some remodeling work to address some safety concerns they have or to help them remain in their home, we realize that there are two basic ways to approach an opportunity like this.

Assuming that the client is willing to execute an agreement with us and get started on the improvements rather than just collecting free ideas from contractors and consultants on what can be done, we arrange to meet with them. However, we are aware that some people will try to learn as much from us as they can about how we might approach a project such as they describe or desire and what specifically we would do to alleviate the issues they are expressing, plus any others that we note.

After "picking our brain" about potential solutions, some people will attempt to do the work themselves (after telling us that they need some time to think about and process what we shared with them), or they will take what we give them as potential solutions and contact another company to get a lower bid. Remember that it's always possible for someone else to provide a lower estimate when they don't have to envision or create the project but just to price it. We need to keep this in mind before we offer too much information or submit a formal estimate without getting a sense of commitment from a potential client.

If the meeting goes well, and we get reasonable assurances that they aren't going to be shopping their project with other contractors to get a lower bid and that they are ready to work with us, we still have two options on how to proceed.

If we look at the potential client and determine that they are reasonably healthy, that they are not exhibiting any specific signs of mobility difficulty or issues, that they aren't expressing anything that would suggest that they are having issues or concerns in using their home because of physical or sensory limitations, we might decide to proceed with doing the assessment, collecting information on their needs and desires, preparing a formal estimate and scope of services, and undertake the job - with their acceptance of what we propose - on our own without any assistance from other professionals. We might, depending on the scope of the job and what is involved, do all of the work ourselves. We might need to bring in one or more trade contractors for their expertise.

The second option would be to immediately collaborate with a physical or occupational therapist to help us with the assessment and to look for issues that we may not be able to spot. Since we are not trained in how to recognize or understand many of the signs of a mobility or sensory difficulty, and the client may be doing a good job of masking it outwardly, we must use the services of a trained health care professional to assist us with the design of the improvements.

Trying to design an improvement - particularly when there is safety involved and the client is older - and be reasonably sure that we haven't overlooked anything or failed to take an underlying medical issue (that we might not be able to learn about or observe) into account, we don't want to do this project without the assistance of a qualified health care professional on our team.

Once we get into the design, there are many other professionals whose advice we may want to seek. There are plenty of professionals who can lend their expertise to a project if are just open to the idea of getting them involved and realizing that we may not have all of the answers ourselves.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, C.E.A.C., 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.