Challenge: Remodeling or Building Your Home for Accessibility?

Special Living Magazine

Is a consultant an unnecessary expense? You have to weigh the benefits of using a consultant for home assessments and design modifications.

Adam Fine of Accessible Design & Consulting discusses how to find the best professionals for modifying your home to make it more accessible and ADA compliant.

We have worked with many clients who used home remodelers who were inexperienced about accessibility and the work either caused safety issues or had to be modified at a later date to accommodate progression of the disability. The CAPS web site is a great resource for people to find competent contractors in home modifications for people with disabilities.

An accident, stroke, or other debilitating disease can make a person a stranger in his or her own home. Stairways, bathrooms, and even bedrooms become obstacles in the daily routine. This makes living with a disability challenging and frustrating. Many times, living with a disability can be less burdensome and intrusive with proper home modifications.

Making the home safer and more accessible should be the goal of most home modifications for persons with a disability. By making the home accessible, an individual might be able to stay at home instead of moving to a care facility.

Although many home modifications can be as simple as installing grab bars in the shower or ramps at stairways, others require more complex installations like stair lifts or elevators. No matter how difficult the installation may be, it is recommended that an accessibility consultant be considered for most situations.

A common misconception is that hiring an accessibility consultant is more costly than hiring a home remodeler or even a handyman for the simple stuff. The truth is, an experienced professional will perform a complete home assessment that considers all aspects of the disability and how it relates to home modifications that are needed now, as well as in the future, as the disability progresses. Planning for the future can save money in the long run as additional home modifications become necessary.

Installing a stair lift when an elevator will be needed in a year or two will result in two modifications instead of one. By installing the elevator in the beginning, it will not only save time and money; it will make the person with the disability AND the caregiver safer and more comfortable from the outset.

Accessibility consultants know that installing a grab bar can be a simple procedure but if the backing behind the wall isn’t reinforced before installation, it could become a safety issue if the mounting fails.

Many accessibility consultants are familiar with the latest Home Medical Equipment products and can provide the best ramp and walker/wheelchair combination. They also know that a threshold ramp will be needed at doorways instead of just a ramp for stairways. Most construction remodelers don’t have the experience with the special needs of a person with a disability to understand all of the issues involved.

Finding the best person or company to perform a home modification for a senior or person with a disability has become easier in recent years with the advent of the CAPS Program. CAPS stands for “Certified Aging in Place Specialist.”

The Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) is a designation program by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) that teaches the technical skills essential for home modifications for “aging in place”. The NAHB Remodelers™ Council, in collaboration with the AARP, NAHB Research Center, and NAHB Senior Housing Council, developed the Certified Aging in Place Specialist program to provide comprehensive, practical, market-specific information about working with older and maturing adults to remodel their homes for aging-in-place. A Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) has been trained in:

  • the unique needs of the older adult population
  • aging-in-place home modifications
  • common remodeling projects
  • solutions to common barriers

The Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) designation is a reliable way to identify professionals to modify your home. Don’t let the “senior” label fool you, the CAPS designation is the standard most accessibility consultants follow for all home modifications that increase safety and accessibility in the home.

To find a CAPS in your state, visit the NAHB web site.

For more information about ADA Home Assessments contact:

Adam Fine
Accessible Design & Consulting
866-902-9800 Phone E-mail Web Site