Aging in Place Home Modification vs a General Contractor

How does a home modification design specialist differ from an aging in place general contractor?

Are you looking to modify your home to age in place? Increase accessibility? Perhaps you are considering an aging in place general contractor, but have you considered a home modification design specialist? These specialists come from different backgrounds, but many are physical and occupational therapists. Physical and occupational therapists are uniquely qualified to assess your current mobility limitations and predict future mobility issues based on your movement and medical history. 

An aging in place general contractor is going to modify the home based on universal design. Universal design often follows ADA specifications, it is meant to increase accessibility for most people. Examples of universal design include level entry homes and wider doorways. 

Home modification design specialists often use some elements of universal design. However, the home is designed to fit your specific needs and not those of the general population. Not only will the home design fit your current needs, it will also predict your future needs. For example, if someone with a rapidly progressive condition (like ALS or Huntington’s Disease) has an upstairs bedroom, an aging in place general contractor might recommend a chair lift to manage the stairs. However, a home modification specialist – particularly one with a medical background – knows that it is very difficult to get on and off the chair lift. Particularly for those who will likely be wheelchair bound due to the progressive nature of their disease. In this case, the home modification specialist may recommend avoiding stairs completely by creating an accessible bedroom downstairs or even a wheelchair accessible elevator. 

Physical and occupational therapists working in home modification design are experts at finding solutions that fit your specific needs. After creating a plan with a home modification specialist, you can then meet with a general contractor to complete the recommended projects. You can have confidence that your money is well spent since it is tailored to your individual needs.

 Rachel Blackwood, PT, CAPS

Jane Sizemore, OTR/L, SHSS

Designing Independence, LLC

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