Before beginning any renovation project for a client – and especially one that involves creating aging in place solutions for clients who want to remain in their homes long-term – we need to review their living space and evaluate both what exists and the potential for making modifications to improve the living space.
This evaluation or assessment needs to look at the physical nature of the home itself and how well it can accommodate changes that might be necessary (as well as how easy those changes would be to make), and it needs to factor in the personal element of how the occupants of the property and any guests they may entertain will be able to use the space effectively.
It is both an objective survey of what the way the home was built, room sizes, general layout, construction materials, age of the home, and condition of what is present as well as a subjective one involving the occupants of the home and how well they relate to space and accomplish the tasks that are important to them.
We can’t begin to suggest a plan or undertake any improvements until we have a firm grasp on what is present and it needs to change – and to what extent – to appeal to the needs of our clients. We need to create a design specific for the needs of the client and the physical parameters and constraints of the property they occupy. Even if we find ourselves completing many similar projects, it’s not appropriate to suggest a typical approach of what we generally install or create because it may not comply with what the client needs. This is what we begin with the assessment.
Through observations and direct interviewing, we must determine the priorities of what the clients think they want and need. We will examine how they use various aspects of their home, which areas of their home are the most important to them in terms of where they spend the majority of their waking hours, which parts of the home are not that important to them, and how making modifications (especially for accessibility) will enhance their overall quality of life in their home.
Once we are satisfied that we have a good grasp on what is going on in the client’s home – from the standpoint of what the home features as well as the functional needs and abilities of our clients – we can form an opinion and present options for them to consider.