Many remodeling clients over age 55 have a medical condition that the project needs to accommodate or are anticipating old-age infirmities that they want to plan for. In these situations, contractors have advantages over occupational therapists or physical therapists. So says former contractor Louis Tenenbaum of Potomac, Md., who is now an aging in place consultant to families and organizations. "We're better listeners," he says of contractors. "We give people what they want ... but health therapists apply solutions." Tenenbaum says when selling or performing remodels for older clients, contractors can work from techniques they may already use.

Take baby steps. Contractors are used to coming back with ideas and then refining them. The 55-plus client likes that. Health decisions are foisted on them, but they prefer getting used to ideas. Often you can end up with larger, more meaningful projects.

Cater to second thoughts. These clients like to re-engage on incidental decisions because it confirms choices. Picking color palettes, for instance, helps to satisfy them. A health worker doesn't allow this interaction, but the contractor gains a second selling opportunity.

Be open to health-related upsells. If the project fills needs prompted by a disabling illness, these clients see how healthy, safe environments can be attractive. This gives opportunities, mid-project, to add features. Clients may add saunas at this stage, or lever door handles. When they see levers are easier to use in the new addition — why not elsewhere?

Include them in your marketing. You can piggyback on this client's "story" more than any other to establish your niche. "This client talks up a different story than the usual," Tenenbaum says. "They say, 'Look at this, isn't it beautiful? And we're going to stay here a long time. This gives us independence. Maybe our contractor can do this for you.'"

- J.F.S.