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Aging in Place Remodeling- Initial Meeting

by Louis on March 10, 2011

Most projects start with a phone call. I like it. I shmooze with folks for a few minutes about my experience and how I work. They decide, then or later, whether we will get together. Sometimes, because I charge for my initial client meeting, the decision is about money.  Sometimes it is because I am not what they need. If that seems to be the case I talk them out of setting an appointment. I guess, sometimes they don’t like me…that is okay. There are people I don’t like, too.

I give a lot of good advice in initial meetings. I also do critical listening. It may be the best of my knowledge and experience. I charge for it because it has value. If I don’t charge people don’t always pay attention. They miss out on the best I have to offer. The fee is a good exchange for what they get.

I recently had an e-mail first contact. Because there was no phone number I had to write back. It gave me an opportunity to get some of the typical first phone call down on paper. Now I can share it.

I did my first home modifications for access project in 1988. In the early nineties I decided to focus my design/build remodeling business on Aging in Place remodeling. By the late 90’s I had done hundreds of projects and began to speak and write on the subject. A few years ago, as I concentrated more on speaking and writing, I stopped working as a contractor. I still work with individual homes and families but only as a specialized consultant. I call myself an Independent Living Strategist.

My work starts with an initial visit to your home. I prefer that all decision influencers and makers be at the first meeting. I start by listening to understand what problems you want to solve.  I also review the current situation and condition of your home and get to know something of your personal conditions. I will show you some pictures of previous projects and discuss similarities and differences to your situation and your home.

The outcome of that visit depends on what we discover while meeting.

Some possible outcomes are:
1. I provide you a list of resources. You continue your research and planning. You may call me back or not. Sometimes the resources include contractors or suppliers to provide or install your desires or decisions. Sometimes I work for you to supervise their work.

2. We start an e-mail exchange that follows from our meeting. This stage of the design process, called program, begins by honing lists of desires, needs, likes, dislikes, dreams, fears. If not via e-mail this process continues in person.

Program is very important because it becomes your checklist. It helps you know everything you want is included or not (what compromises you have elected) so the project is a success.

3. I take measurements on site to start design. We continue program development with e-mail or conversation as in (2) above as the design process starts.

4. We decide I will call a draftperson to prepare a set of existing conditions drawings. We continue program development with e-mail or conversation as in (2) above as the ‘as built’ drawings are prepared.

5. The client makes a thoughtful, educated and now better informed decision to move to a different residence. Some may think this means I failed. I don’t think so AT ALL! People weighing the pros and cons of moving and staying have lots of data points with which to wrestle. Having a good impression of what is involved in a forthright and pro-active decision to stay is very valuable information.

If we decide to join in a design process for your home I work with you, and possibly a designer/team member as well, in addition to consulting health and social professionals and family members, to finalize the program and prepare design and specifications for construction. Sometimes I continue to work for you to secure bids, select, hire and supervise contractors through construction.

Design is a significant process. It pays off because the time and care to communicate makes it reasonably assured the project will be a success. Construction -the bricks and mortar/hammer and nails part -  that follows the design process is fraught with problems. Sometimes I say Murphy is the Patron Saint of the remodeling industry. You know Murphy…If something can go wrong it will! For that reason it is good to spend care, time and attention before a shovel goes in the ground, or a board is sawn.



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Gail Henry November 24, 2014 at 6:16 pm


I plan to call you upon my return on 12/1. I am only 65 but facing back surgery in the next two years or so. We live in near NW DC on a hill in a town home (20′ wide and 3 stories plus basement) and are debating how to decide whether to try to modify it (and whether we can afford that) or to move and try to find something better suited or that can be updated more easily. If I tell you there are even steps from the back and lots of steps in front, that this is a 1929 house, that we have a garage off the alley that we think about expanding to fit a car and storage, that we are worried that we have already filled the amount of land we can occupy… does this still sound like even a possibility? If so, I’ll call upon my return. I have been re-designing a bath in the basement with aging in mind, but that is two floors and many steps away from where I sleep. I’m hoping we could do a complete exploration of the possibilities.

Thanks, Gail Henry


Louis November 25, 2014 at 10:13 am

Gail, Thanks for writing. The info you shared shows a thoughtful process. Decisions in this arena are complex. I am never disappointed when my consultation clients use my experience to make an EDUCATED decision to move. Educated, thoughtful decisions are the hallmark of maturity and comfort. I look forward to hearing from you.
Happy holidays, Sincerely, Louis


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