Sunday, January 29, 2017

"Is Our First Idea The Best One?"

When we are contacted by someone who desires to make some improvements to their living space to continue living in it over the next several years, we ask them some questions about their home and what they would like to accomplish through the renovations.

There may or may not be a health component attached to the project that needs to be factored in and considered. It might just involve accessibility or convenience issues, There could be several decision makers involved, and you may not all of them initially. Much of the total scope and the dynamics of the project will unfold as we get more involved and learn more about it.

The first step - after the initial discussion on the phone and making the determination that this is both something we are interested in doing and that it falls within our basic scope for size of project and price point - is to arrange for a physical inspection of the property.

Before we ever arrive at their home, we may have a rough idea of what we think needs to be done (at a minimum or perhaps as a more comprehensive approach). We hopefully have some type of a monetary parameter ("budget") in mind that they have expressed.

Part of our idea on what needs to be done may come from our telephone discussion with them, from asking them specific questions about what they have know and how they would like to optimize their space, from learning what the desired outcome is, and from a consideration of other properties on their street and nearby in their neighborhood. We have many online mapping and survey tools to help us gain an appreciation for their property without ever looking at it in person. Then when we do arrive, we can compare what we have gleaned from property assessor records, Google Maps and other images, real estate information, and other data to help us interpret what we are seeing.

So then we look at the space and compare our initial opinion that we formed before actually looking at the space - based on our questions and analysis of what the client was sharing with us - with what we are now seeing. How does it stack up? Is our initial thought holding up to what we see once we are there, or is our first impression of what we now see in person what we will want to present to the client as the recommended solution?

We all know that when we are talking a test or a quiz that often our first answer to a question isn't the one that we stay with. Often we change it. So is the case here? Do we go with our initial instincts that were formed before delving more into the actual workings of the space and seeing firsthand how the client interacts with their space? Maybe we got it right, but maybe we are having second thoughts about our original position. 

The important thing here is not to hold onto our first idea if we think that we have a better solution after further review and analysis. Then again, if we still like our original idea after looking at the space, having additional conversations with the client, and watching them move about in the space, there's nothing that says that we can't go with our first impression. We just want to offer our client the best solution possible for the needs and their budget to achieve the desired outcome for them - whether it's the first thought we had or the last one.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, 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.