Where the project is about adapting the home for clients who have medical, cognitive, or aging issues—currently or possibly in the future—the form ensures that owner Dan Bawden doesn’t overlook anything when creating design solutions. The comprehensive checklist records any difficulties the client is experiencing in performing simple functions of everyday living.
Specific information is required when mobility and access as well as comfort and safety are the end design goals. If the client is capable of accompanying Bawden on a walk-through of the home, the remodeler runs through the checklist with the client while he tours the house. If the client is unable to walk the house with Bawden, he makes the form a key part of the interview process.
About 75% of Legal Eagle Contracting’s jobs now involve some aging-in-place component. That percentage has steadily increased since Bawden helped write the Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) course description 10 years ago for the National Association of Home Builders.
The lawyer/remodeler promotes his expertise in this niche by generating short articles about aging-in-place projects, which he sends to local consumer publications along with professional-quality photos of his work. These articles have prompted “fantastic exposure” in the Houston Chronicle, among other places, and have resulted in many leads he says. ”There’s a lot of public interest in this,” Bawden notes.
The Home Audit checklist helps the remodeler organize the gathering of data, room by room, either during the interview process or while observing clients interacting with their surroundings.
The list then becomes an important component in creating a design that solves the real problems of today while anticipating those that will develop at a later point in time. Bawden usually runs through the checklist one more time with the client at the end of the initial meeting, just to be sure he covered everything.
The comprehensive list takes into account clients’ broader needs, such as privacy, as well as specifics, such as being able to reach all parts of the refrigerator/freezer. Anything that limits use is noted, since the point of the remodel is to make the house fully functional and comfortable for its owners.
—Jim Cory, a contributing editor to REMODELING , is based in Philadelphia.