Saturday, July 1, 2017

"Enlisting The Help Of Homeowners & Renters To Get A Head Start On Improvements"

Staying put in one's current home is quite trendy, and it will likely become even more popular over time. Some people will eventually move into a different dwelling or move into a retirement center, but nearly everyone says that they want to remain where they are living as they get older. This is good for them, and it's good for us as aging in place professionals.

There are many reasons for people to want to remain living in their current homes, but we know that their homes may not serve them well as they are. Little things need to be done - and in some cases more major renovations need to be accomplished - to make those homes safe, comfortable, convenient, accessible, and enjoyable.

Because there is only so much work we can do - even if we wanted to help everyone who needs it - it would be great if we could encourage renters and homeowners who are capable of doing a few simple repairs or upgrades around their homes to do so. This will leave the larger or more complex jobs for us.

There are many projects that are relatively small and simple ones to complete that owners and renters can undertake. A handyman could be engaged, and a contractor could do them as part of a larger project, but having renters and owners do them makes logistic sense. This is a win-win because it saves them money that they can use on larger projects, and it lets the contractors focus on working on larger, more complex and extensive projects.

Additionally, owners and renters can make immediate improvements that begin enhancing the safety, appearance, comfort, convenience, and accessibility of their homes without waiting for work to be scheduled and completed by someone else. They can do this on their own timetable and budget the work accordingly.

As an added benefit to getting the necessary minor work undertaken and completed, it gets the owners and renters in the remodeling mood and started on the path to more comprehensive solutions. Any procrastination that might have existed about projects that needed done but somehow just kept getting put off will start to fade as they begin the work themselves. After that, additional projects can be scheduled and completed to make their homes even safer and more comfortable. 

Examples of items that we should encourage people to complete for themselves are replacing all of their non-lever door handles - both exterior and interior - with lever-style door handles. 

This is a safe activity (without any plumbing, electrical, or construction aspects to it) that takes very little know-how or ability. It requires no building permit or post-installation inspection. It's just a matter of choosing a style (for example, straight, curved, decorative, or plain), a finish (for instance, polished, matte, lacquered, anodized, or brushed), and a color (such as, brass, pewter, bronze, brown, black, or silver). Then the existing door knobs or locksets are removed and replaced with the lever-style ones. They use the same holes that have already been drilled.

Beyond this, if they feel safe in working around electricity or plumbing, they can switch out any remaining toggle-style light switches with rocker-style ones. They can change out older style two-handle faucets in the kitchen with modern single lever faucets - possible with touch or motion activation. There also are motion-activated solar lights they can obtain and mount around their property. Of course, painting is also good to freshen the look of a home for those who can tackle such a project.

We aren't relinquishing any of our domain to the renters or homeowners by encouraging them to get started on some of the easier and simpler repair and renovation projects because we have plenty to do with the larger, more detailed renovations. This helps them make progress toward a safer living environment and lets us focus on jobs that are larger in scope to accomplish for them.

Even if they never call us to do anything in their homes and they stop with just a few simple upgrades that they can do for themselves, we know that (1) these jobs, on their own, were too small for us to undertake anyway, (2) these homes, and their occupants, will be much better off than they would be if the work was not completed, and (3) there are plenty of jobs for us to do that are beyond the scope of the homeowner or renter that will take the expertise of several trades to complete.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist-Master 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.