Three Remodeling Tips for Special Needs and Aging in Place

I was privileged to be a guest on the Mary & Melissa radio podcast on May 28, 2015, talking about home repair and renovation for special needs families[1]. We touched on aging in place issues as well. You can listen here.

Below are three key points that came out of that discussion.

(1)  A Contractor Referral Service Can Be of Particular Help to Special Needs Families. Special needs families are short on time and money and have circumstances that are unique. A locally owned and operated referral service, unlike internet-based resources, can reduce the risk that you’ll waste time interviewing contractors who aren’t credentialed or otherwise suited for the work you need done. This is because the local referral service provider will know personally the contractors they are referring, will be familiar with your neighborhood, and will be available for telephone and email consultation about your particular situation. During the project, the referral service will follow up to be sure you receive bids and other deliverables on time, freeing you from the hassle of chasing down those items. HomeWise provides these services at no charge to the homeowner.

(2) Plan Ahead. Even if you’re not facing mobility or other challenges now, when undertaking a major remodel you’d be smart to project ahead several years. For a couple in their 50s doing an overhaul of their newly-empty nest, this means considering whether they want to stay in the home into their 70s or 80s and “age in place”. It is a lot cheaper, while you’re remodeling now anyway, to widen doorways and hallways or enlarge a bathroom to dimensions a wheelchair or walker can navigate than it will be to retrofit your space when the need comes. Similarly, if you have a family member with a degenerative condition like muscular dystrophy, incorporate into your design during today’s remodel closets that can become elevator shafts in the future and beams that will bear the weight of ceiling lifts when the time comes.

(3) Consult Behavior, Rehabilitation and Other Specialists When Deciding What Modifications You Need. If you have a child with autism who is fascinated by water (a common trait), you may want to include in your bathroom remodel a barrier to turning on the faucets that can be scaled back or removed as the child learns that flooding the bathroom isn’t appropriate behavior. If you have a family member recovering from a stroke or dealing with Parkinson’s disease, you may want to replace carpet with hardwood for easier mobility with shuffling feet. Behavioral specialists and occupational therapists will have a lot of suggestions along these lines and should be consulted before you put your final renovation plans into place.

Whatever your special circumstances, don’t go it alone. Let us help you plan wisely to be sure your remodeling projects facilitate your family’s needs for years to come.

[1] The show is an outreach of Inclusion Zone, a nonprofit that provides education and other resources to facilitate the inclusion of special needs children in all areas of life.


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