Saturday, October 28, 2017

"Let's Help The Consumer By Being 'CAPS' Credentialed"

One of the challenges for homeowners considering a renovation for their residences is locating a reputable contractor to help them. There are many many places they can begin looking for people to use - Yellow Pages, online listing services like Angie's List or Home Advisor, sites like Houzz, Google searches, or word of mouth by asking friends and neighbors who they might have used or who they have heard know about that might do good work.

Still, they might not be confident that they have selected a competent or reliable contractor who will do good work and be reasonably priced for the type of work envisioned. When people have physical limitations that need to be taken into account for the remodeling project, this complicates choosing the contractor to use.

Some places have stringent licensing requirements for contractors, and some only require that they are registered. Regardless, there are many people who attempt to offer services to the public who are unqualified or unlicensed (when this is required). This ends up hurting everyone - the contractors who are licensed or registered, the client who contracted for the work, and the community in general.

There really is no recourse for the consumer when they have used an unlicensed provider because there is no appeal to a regulating agency or authority to sanction the work, get their money back, or keep it from happening again. It is a challenge for licensed or registered contractors competing against unlicensed providers because the unlicensed ones don't have the overhead or insurance - and often the requisite training - that goes along with being able to serve the consumer effectively.

Most of us remember the amount of work that went into getting our driver's license and how none us want to do anything to jeopardize keeping it. Our livelihoods depend on being able to drive. Yet, there are people that seem to like living on the edge who drive with suspended or revoked licenses - or no license at all. We know what a hazard it is being on the roadway with people who aren't properly licensed or who don't seem to care about being licensed.

Now, apply this scenario to unlicensed versus licensed contractors. No wonder there is a concern from those who are licensed as well as the people who need work done!

With that said, what if consumers insisted - through an educational campaign and word-of-mouth that we help initiate that stressed this approach rather than a formal regulation - that any general contractor or remodeler that someone wanted to use (and it doesn't matter what size the project might be or how much it would cost) should have a CAPS designation? They would be free to use whomever they wanted, but we can put pressure on the industry to become CAPS trained and certified if they want consumers to respect, trust, and hire them.  

The CAPS certification has become quite well-known in recent years, and consumers, as well as professionals, are aware of it. Consumers know that the CAPS designation represents additional training and effort on the part of the contractor to understand ways to modify and improve their homes in a safe fashion - regardless of their present age or physical condition - to allow them to live more comfortably in their space and to use it well over time also.

So, why wouldn't they want to use someone to help them who understands their needs - both now and over time - better than someone who might approach a remodeling project for them as they would any other type of construction that doesn't take their situation into account.

Why wouldn't we want to be that type of provider - contractors, handymen, occupational therapists, designers, and others - and convey to the potential client the value we offer them because of our CAPS designation and training? We should stress the value and importance of being CAPS trained and for the consumers to only consider using CAPS contractors and consultants.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place 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.