“Our First Concept or Solution May Not Be The Best One”

When we set an appointment and meet with a potential client to help them analyze and assess their living space to make it safer, friendlier, and more accessible for their current and projected needs, we may have an initial impression of how we want to approach suggesting the changes – based on our experience and similar situations we have worked with in the past. Nevertheless, the first idea or solution we come up isn’t always the one we’ll eventually use.We could arrive at the best choice right off. Then again, we may think through it and discover ways why it won’t work or can be done better. The important thing is that it be an effective solution to meet the expressed and perceived needs of the client and that it fall within budgetary parameters.

We might survey a room, floor space, accessways, and exterior design treatments and form an opinion as to how we want to proceed. However, further study and examination of the space and existing construction may lead us in a different direction or have us pursue a better solution.

Sometimes something that we come up with seems reasonable at first, but we find that it comes up short or can be more difficult or expensive to implement than a different solution. Therefore we need a different, better idea.

Evaluation is important. We need to run through various scenarios and look for ways that the original idea may not be the best solution. We would take into account the physical needs of our clients, the physical condition and construction techniques of the home itself, the age of the fixtures and features in the room (bathroom, kitchen, built-ins, flooring, and lighting, for instance), and how severely the space needs to be modified to accommodate current needs.

After reviewing and assessing the various factors that we are observing, we would then be in a position to arrive at a more appropriate measure. This still may not be the final solution that is recommended to the client. It could still undergo some revision, but this creates a place to focus the discussion.

We don’t want to automatically toss out the first thing that comes to mind – it might be the one we end up recommending. Just like changing an answer on a test. Often, our first idea is the best – not always, but quite often. Just as we don’t want to hastily arrive at a suggested solution because it was our first idea (and it may be similar to approaches we have use in settings like this before), we don’t want to just run with it either – until it is thought through and evaluated completely.

We just need to remember that we should be responsive to our client’s needs and concerns while being true to good design concepts. They are mutually exclusive. They can coincide quite well. While our first idea or consideration may seem what will work in the space and look good, it may be at odds with what the client is looking for, what they need, what they are willing to pay for, and what they are wanting us to do. This means a compromise or adjustment of our original idea to align better with what works for the client and still provides a food design solution for the space.

Steve Hoffacker, CAPS, C.E.A.C., MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.
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