Natural or unplanned events happen that affect our lives. In terms of our housing, a tree limb can damage our roof and violate the structural integrity of our homes or allow rain and other elements to get inside the dwelling.
A wind event (tornado, squall, microburst, or hurricane) can wreck various amounts of havoc on our homes – affecting the roofing, exterior walls, windows, doors, and other features, It also can drive rain into the structure that otherwise would not be possible.
Water can come from unexpected severe rainfall than creates unusual pooling of water and causes water to seep into our homes. A spring flood for people living near a river or creek can raise water levels dramatically and quickly send water coming toward our homes – often without much advance warning or ability to ward off its effects ahead of time.
Fires, smoke, appliance or systems leaks and malfunctions, mold, or noxious fumes (carbon monoxide or volatile organic compounds – VOCs, for instance) can make life uncomfortable or even displace us from our homes while the issues are remediated or resolved.
As careful as we might be in building and maintaining our homes and keeping tree branches trimmed so they remain a reasonable distance away and performing other types of due diligence inside and around our homes, we can’t predict how natural events might affect us. Things happen. Also, unexpected events – emergencies – can happen inside.
When such events happen, we have two ways to respond to their aftermath – after making sure that everyone is safe and accounted for and that any injuries that may have happened are properly treated. The first is to put things back as they were – rebuilding the home to look essentially the same as it did before the tragedy struck. with the understanding that certain pieces of furniture, paint colors, flooring, wallpaper, or other home furnishings may no longer be available exactly as they were previously.
Our insurance adjusters will work with us to make this happen – subject to the extent of our policies and the amount of money we have to put toward the effort that the insurance does not cover.
The second approach is to make our homes better, even if the insurance coverage does not address the additional work. For aging in place, there are many treatments that would be desirable in a home that may not exist. When an event such as a fire, flood, water intrusion, or other episode affects us, we have the opportunity to put things back together better than they were before by making the home more accessible, safer, and generally more comfortable and convenient than it was. We can add several universal design elements rather than just putting it back together the way it was.
We certainly don’t wish any type of misfortune for anyone, but on the other hand, we know that life-changing events can happen. No one plans for a fire, tornado, ice storm, water pipes bursting, hot water heaters leaking, or smoke or other noxious fumes affecting us. Still, all of this and more is possible. When, and if it happens, we need to restore the home to eliminate all traces of the damage that has occurred.
The simplest approach is just to restore it to best we can, perhaps using new finishes, colors, floor treatments, furniture, and appliances – depending on their age and whether similar styles and colors are still available. However, with a little planning and creativity, we can put the space back together with an aging in place strategy that will accommodate the current lifestyle and physical requirements of the occupants of the home.
It’s entirely possible that this home was not meeting their needs before the calamity befell them and that they would have continued just getting by and living with what they had. Maybe they were planning on updating their home anyway. Regardless, a serious event such as these described would give them and us the opportunity to create a solution for them that would be beneficial for them remaining comfortably and enjoyably in their home long-term. Much, if not all of the money for such a renovation would be provided through insurance proceeds as long as they had the right type and amount of coverage.
Restore the home and put it back the way it was – good as new like nothing ever happened – or put it back together better than it was in terms of accessibility and the way the home lives for those occupying the home full time as well as those who might be visitors are our two choices. When we can, and the client is agreeable to our suggestions, the second option is preferred. Let’s take the unfortunate set of circumstances that has occurred and turn it into a golden opportunity to create the type of accessible living space that will benefit the clients.