Monday, October 29, 2007
As this story mentions, not all states regulate contractors, so verifying the contractor can be a problem. They give some good tips in the video clip. They did not mention Angie's List--a great way to see what customers say about the company and how the company responds, which is often just as important.
The video is located at the link below, and you'll have to watch a commercial of some sort before it starts--the one I saw was for a video game.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
- The aging-in-place bias in redoing a bathroom for a senior would be to expand the shower and make it zero threshold in the event that a wheelchair is in their future. But we had two customers (both smaller women) who really wanted smaller showers--they felt more secure and stable in the small shower, the walls providing an envelope that makes it easier for them to maintain their balance. The new showers will accommodate a small shower chair if needed in the future, so there is that provision for flexibility. But never will a wheelchair be practical in the bathroom (in one of the homes, a wheelchair will never be practical anywhere.) So, while this might not live up to UD principles of equitable use or size and space for approach and use, for these particular homeowners it was the right design for now.
- We like wall ovens over ranges--less bending and lifting, easier to see into. Separate cook tops allow for storing pots and pans where they are needed or even the ability to sit and cook. But for one customer, the wall often was wasted space that was better put to storage. So, the wall oven came out and the oven cavity was fitted with pull-outs. Separate cabinets were modified for a freestanding range. This resulted in an overall more functional design for the customer, even though we had to go with a less UD appliance. Sometimes the practical issue is how and where to apply the UD principles. In remodeling, there are typically trade-offs.
- Split level counters are seen as a good idea to accommodate people of different heights or who need to sit. They find their way into a lot of kitchen designs these days. But for someone with a severe visual impairment, misjudging where one height ends and the other begins can result in spills and broken dishes. A common height counter, or one where the height differences are in distinctly different areas of the workspace, is the better solution for the individual.
Don't get me wrong, the attention on UD is great. Even in these designs, we employed UD principles where we could--lever handles, hand showers on glide bars in the shower, grab bars instead of towel bars that offer no support if grabbed, materials and designs that provide visual cuing, task lighting, storage that minimizes reaching, etc. But let's remember that it is a set of principles to help shape a design, not a set of routine solutions. Often in residential remodeling the design dictates are very personal.
Monday, October 8, 2007
This year was different. It was odd. It was surprising. There were actually seniors or their families in the seats! We spoke or exhibited at three events durng the week and two of these were very well attended with approximately 30 attendees at one and around 60 at the other. The events are getting better organized and that accounts for some of the draw I'm sure, but I also think more and more people are interested in the topic and, from their comments, are happy to find knowledgeable resources to advise them.
Our topic (modifying/adapting the home) also plays well because it tends to be a more positive or upbeat message than some of the other aging related topics. But the third talk was at a home and garden show (which was just a coincidence and not related to AIP week.) It was poorly attended--as I have seen other AIP talks at such venues be. I suspect that it's a topic that plays well to the right audience but does not yet draw well against all the booths and trade displays--its not why the attendees are there. But it is great to see the momentum building and more and more people acting practively to set a plan and maintain their independence.