“In Celebration Of ‘National Remodeling Month’ & Aging In Place”

May is “National Remodeling Month.” As Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS), we should help celebrate this month because it underscores the importance of remodeling in keeping America’s (and other nations) housing stock viable for its residents – especially those who are older or living with some degree of physical challenge. 

Remodeling is nothing new, but it has taken on added significance for homeowners. For years, the main issue was how much money an addition or planned improvement would make to the overall value – and hence resale potential – of their home. In fact, there were several published articles, books, seminars, and even radio and TV programs on how someone could allocate their money in a home to maximize the return on their investment – even if they didn’t particularly need that improvement for themselves. It even got down to the choice of cabinets, flooring, countertops , and appliances that would create the most potential value.

But times have changed. While making improvements to a home to provide some temporary enjoyment for the occupants but really focusing more on potential future users and how much they might like what was being done, this is no longer the driving force in deciding on which improvements to make or where to spend one’s money.

Rather than trying to determine how much of what should and could be spent now on a kitchen, bath, entry, garage, deck, porch, basement, or other improvement in the home and what that might mean in a few years when the home is sold – and basing decisions of what to focus on to accomplish maximum return on investment – improvements now focus much more heavily on actual use and need that the current occupants have.

People are looking at what needs to be done to, for, and in their homes to make them more accessible for themselves, more visitable to their visitors and guests, and generally more comfortable to live in and use.

One improvement strategy that can work for both purposes – enhancing value and improving the livability of a home – is focusing on and implementing universal design. Adding elements to the home – from switches and controls that anyone in the home can reach and use to other elements that are approachable and easily operated by occupants and visitors to the home alike – is a brilliant design strategy.

Universal design improvements accomplish many objectives in a home. They create more safety, better access and reach, and more comfort and convenience. Because the concept of universal design is that it establishes a use pattern that is non-restrictive and applicable to essentially everyone in the home (whether living their full-time or an occasional visitor or guest) regardless of their physical size or stature, age, or general ability, home improvements that incorporate this strategy benefit nearly everyone.

As a result, the current occupants of the home will find it much safer and easier to use than would be the case without the modifications. Visitors and guests – and relatives that have extended stays – will find the home equally appealing and convenient to use. Lastly, potential purchasers of that home once it is placed on the market for sale will find it much more desirable – and the home will appeal to a much broader market.

Remodeling for comfort and convenience does not have to exclude creating an appeal for future owners. They don’t need to be mutually exclusive – taking one approach or the other. Homes can be fulfilling to current occupants as well as people who might desire to acquire the property in the future.

While remodeling for use has taken precedence over a purely financial investment approach for resale potential, many improvements will actually enhance the value of the home and will be creating a more favorable lifestyle for the current owners at the same time.

Universal design has the ability to be relevant for many years and to serve the needs of people living in the home now as well as those who may occupy it in future years. In a sense, it allows modifications to be relevant to current owners and still enhance the value to future ones. It meets current needs and adds to resale value at the same time.

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