Aging in place means that people do not need to move from their homes in order to accommodate their changing needs.

The generation known as the Baby Boomers represents over 25% of the entire US population. One in four people in the US are over the age of 50. National statistics tell us that those that own their homes will remodel on the average of every seven to ten years. That statistic seems to make sense because there are life changing events which occur in everyone’s life that happen roughly on that schedule. College graduation, marriage, children, more children, business and other entertaining, empty nest, and slow down or retirement are only a few of the events that change the way we live.

As a very large segment of the population nears retirement age, the remodeling needs of these people will be changing. Awareness is the key. Obviously, a family contemplating a home remodeling project at 30 years of age because of another addition to the family will have substantially different needs than the couple with the desire to stay in their home safely and comfortably as they age.

The National Association of Home Builders has developed a certification program through the NAHB University of Housing which recognizes this fact and prepares professionals to competently offer products and services specifically geared toward those who wish to age in place. This certification is called the CAPS Designation or Certified Aging In Place Specialist.

Construction in this community presents some interesting challenges for the CAPS designee. Neighborhood associations must be consulted prior to some exterior modifications that would improve accessibility, Condo associations usually need to approve changes that will affect sound transmission or door widths, and roll in, curbless shower renovations are interesting especially over post tension slab construction. These tub / shower conversions or shower to curbless accessible shower renovations must be waterproof and not raise the floor significantly at the entry door. Grab Bars do not need to be those plain old brushed aluminum commercial looking bars of the past. There are some very stylish grab bars on the market today. What ever the selection, placement and installation specifications are vitally important.

Simple things like counter and cabinet heights, linear cabinet pulls instead of round knobs, cooktops and ranges with the controls in the front, lever operated faucets, proper flooring selections, general room lighting and task lighting, counter height, depth and appliance placement, lifts, or the installation of the proper backing for potential installation of future lifts among many other things should be considered. It is all common sense once you are aware of the availability of such products.

One of the goals of the CAPS designee is to make sure that everything that can be done, within the budget, to see that the client can remain comfortably and safely in their home, is done, or at least discussed. Sometimes, these remodeling considerations are not to solve an immediate need, but are done just in case they are needed in the future. In some cases, once the proper disclosures are filled out, the client’s health care provider is involved in these discussions. Every project is different and every project deserves individual attention to all of the details.

I have recently completed the requirements to earn the CAPS designation and have added it to my Certified Green Building Professional designation. I feel very strongly that all customers deserve the benefits that can only come from the education that precedes the award of these certified designations. People considering a remodeling project, from the installation of a grab bar in the shower to a whole house remodel owe it to themselves to discuss the project with a CAPS professional. They are the pros that have gone the extra mile to make sure the project is successful and all of the needs are filled.