Friday, April 14, 2017

"Any Successful AIP Renovation Project Starts With Listening"

Any successful renovation project, especially one involving an aging in place emphasis or solution, begins with listening. However, listening doesn't just occur with our ears. We also listen with our eyes.

When someone contacts us and expresses an interest or need in having some work done - say a kitchen remodel - we can't just give them a quote over the phone and get an approval or rejection on the spot. Clearly there is so much more to it than this. Regardless of our specialty - contracting, consulting, occupational or physical therapy, design, architecture, carpentry, or another trade - we don't have just one solution that fits every request for a kitchen remodel.

Let's unpack this. Are they wanting a minor or major remodel? New appliances, cabinets, countertops, flooring, lighting, layout, or just some of this? Do they want to stay with what they have but just reface the cabinets, apply new hardware, and change out a couple of the appliances? What condition are the sink, faucet, countertop, flooring, and lighting? Is there an island, and if there is, is it properly sized to allow adequate movement around it? How about work space and the basic work triangle or work rectangle (my term that includes a wall oven or microwave separate from the cooking station)?

What is their budget, and how did they arrive at this number? When do they want the work finished? What conditions in other room of the home or other household members might affect being able to do the work in a timely way? What is the desired outcome? Why do they think they need a makeover? What is it about the current situation that is unsatisfactory to them?

How many people currently use the space and is that number expected to increase or decrease by the time the design is completed?

Have they seen any designs in model homes, on TV, at home shows, at any of their friends, or online that they like and that they want to copy - totally, partially, mostly, somewhat, or not at all?

As we ask these questions over the phone or as they meet with us in person at our office or showroom, we can begin to assess how feasible it might be to work with this type of client. Does their project fall within the scope of our business model? If it does, we can carefully consider how we might want to approach it and if we think we would like this person or family as a client. If it doesn't, that OK also. Better to make the determination now than after a lot more energy has been devoted to the project before deciding that this isn't something to pursue.

If we decide that an inspection of their home is required before making the final determination on submitting a formal proposal, we will ask more questions and we will look at what we see. We will ask questions with our eyes. Does what they are telling us match with what we see and the way we interpret what they are expressing - or is there a disconnect? Do we see even more than they are telling us? Are there issues or conditions that need to be addressed from a safety, function, or use standpoint that they did not identify but seem apparent to us?

Listening to information shared with us - verbally and visually - and then processing, analyzing, and interpreting this information help us define a project that coincides with the objectives of the client. It must be a design that meets their objectives or satisfies a bigger need that they possibly didn't identify or express. Nevertheless, the design is not for us, is not one that can be suggested to them because this is the way we always approach such a request, and must make the client happy. It is their home, their investment, and their choice.

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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. Also check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn