Perhaps you fit this mold: You do only high-end work or period restorations and target the affluent, or some similar market segment. Or you focus on a specific line of business such as refinishing cabinets or bath fixtures; installing closet organizers, gutter toppers, etc.

But, in the U.S., the swelling of the 60-plus age group — especially the 80-plus market segment — presents a new opportunity for remodelers to develop a business serving a demographic segment whose members have more in common than just the size of their pocketbooks.

“Aging-in-place” and “aging-in-community” are popular concepts these days. Simply put, they describe the desire of many senior Americans to remain in their own homes and continue to be active within their communities as they age, rather than moving to an assisted living/care facility. AARP indicates that about 90% of seniors feel this way.

To support this desire, the home health and home care industries have grown rapidly, providing assistance to individuals and families who have lost much of the ability to care for themselves. But despite the wish to remain independent and the availability of care services, little has been done to alter the way we design and maintain the built environment. Herein lies the opportunity.

SPECIFIC APPROACH Building an aging-in-place-focused remodeling business starts with the basic components that characterize any successful remodeling company, such as strong project estimation tools and timely, accurate financial reporting. But if you want to build your business to truly serve the senior homeowner, you need much more:

  • Caring attitude and understanding. Working with seniors requires empathy, patience, and a willingness to develop ongoing client relationships that are more than just transactional. Your mission is to understand the issues surrounding aging and to go beyond “remodeling” to meeting your customers' unique needs.
  • Full range of services. The key to effectively serving this segment is to provide a complete range of services beyond just traditional remodeling. Many of our company's customers look to us as their trusted resource, which they can call whenever they need assistance on the home front — from installing a grab bar to weather-stripping a door, even cutting down an old stump.
  • Expertise. Sure, you still need to know how to frame a wall or set a three-piece molding, but you must also be aware of the types of products and solutions that make sense for seniors. Which handrail profiles are most effective? What solutions exist to increase the friction coefficient of tubs or stone floors? Which paint sheens and lighting solutions work best?
  • It also helps to understand the effects of common health complications associated with aging — not just visual impairments such as glaucoma, but other conditions that can develop or worsen with age such as diabetes, MS, and dementia. There are things remodelers can do in the home to help clients living with these conditions. (Visit for information.)

  • Appropriate marketing. Remember that the senior population is diverse in its needs. Those who are being proactive in their planning will increasingly seek out resources they learn about through traditional marketing. But often a life event creates an immediate need, and ensuring that support networks are aware of your service is a more effective way to generate business.
  • Demeanor. A great crew is essential because, typically, the customer is at home during the remodel. Staff must be polite, conscientious, and willing to lend a hand when needed. I'm sure we all strive for this, but it is all the more important for this client group. —David Dickinson, with his business partner Brian Bartholomew, founded In Your Home, in Portland, Ore., in 2003. Since then, the company has served more than 150 seniors and is rapidly growing. They now offer franchises of their successful business model (see