Wednesday, April 12, 2017

"Rules Give Us The Comfort Of Boundaries And Direction"

We like rules - some of us more than others - because they establish boundaries and give us direction. When we choose to intentionally violate or ignore the rules - even if we don't understand why certain rules or requirements exist or agree with them - we are aware of what we are doing and the potential consequences of our actions.

For instance, we know what a posted speed limit means (even when we think it should be higher) and what the penalties are for exceeding it if we are caught. The same applies for other traffic rules - driving after drinking, not obeying red lights or stop signs, failing to yield, not wearing a seat belt, and others.

Many of us enjoy watching sports - hockey, football, basketball, baseball, volleyball, tennis, lacrosse, auto racing, and more. Notice that they all have published rulebooks and that all of them use referees, umpires, and other officials to monitor and enforce the rules to keep the contests as fair as possible. The athletes and coaches know that there are rules to be followed, and they govern their actions accordingly - sometimes pushing the limit or intentionally going past it, hoping no one will notice or that the potential penalty will be worth the risk.

When it comes to aging in place renovations and solutions, there are rules also, but they aren't as rigid or mandatory as rules and laws are in other areas of our lives. The main rules that must be followed are local building codes, but even there, exceptions or allowances might exist as to the amount of work or the type of improvement or repair that can be done without a permit or without needing to be inspected.

Rules do give us the comfort of boundaries. We are allowed to do certain things within the rules, so we don't attempt to do more. Certain things are required by the rules so we don't have to give any serious thought as to whether it should be done or included because it is mandated that we do it. This makes life easier - even if we don't agree with all of the rules or it takes more time and money to comply with the rules than it would to skip them.

Nevertheless, we don't always have the benefit of rules or prescriptions to govern our designs. We have to evaluate the needs, desires, and physical requirements of our clients in deciding on a solution to recommend. It would be easier to look at a space and know that it needed certain fixes based on its size, usage patterns, number of people present, and demographic characteristics of those living in the home. This would take away the time and talent needed to do an in depth assessment of what was needed to accommodate the needs of the client in the best way possible while adhering to the budget they had available. We would simply prescribe what was called for by the rules. 

If all jobs needed essentially the same solution based on the physical space, anyone who knew the rules and was able to follow them (by ability or certification) could provide a solution rather than someone like us who can approach each job for the unique opportunities it presents and use our knowledge, ability, and experience to create an effective solution for it.

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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.