For those opting to stay in their homes, it also means that varying degrees of home modifications will probably be necessary to make living spaces more “age friendly.”
Typical Aging-in-Place Modifications
Typical modifications to existing homes include:
- Equipping doors and faucets with easy-to-use levers instead of knobs
- Installing casement and other crank-style windows instead of double-hung windows
- Adding grab bars and curbless showers in bathrooms
- Lowering light switches and raising outlets throughout the house
Certified Aging-In-Place — A Great Idea That’s Booming
So how does someone go about the task of modifying their home to make it more livable? A good place to start is a consultation with a professional remodeler who holds the NAHB Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) designation. The CAPS program teaches strategies and techniques for designing and building aesthetically enriching, barrier-free living environments in the hottest growing segment of the building industry: the mature and aging-in-place markets.
As the largest national designation program dedicated to improving the knowledge of those who want to serve this mushrooming market, the CAPS program goes beyond universal design; it addresses the communication and technical needs of this specific demographic group. The three-day CAPS program includes the following courses: “Working With and Marketing to Older Adults,” “Home Modifications” and “Introduction to Business Management.”* (*Holders of certain certifications are exempt from this course.)
“Modifying an existing home to increase access and maneuverability isn’t a new idea, but it’s a great idea,” says Cindy Knutson-Lycholat, CGR, CR, CAPS, owner of Knutson Bros. II Remodeling Specialists in East Troy, WI. “Our culture is changing. A 50-year-old today is vastly different than a 50-year-old a few decades ago.
“Life expectancy is much longer and our lifestyles have changed,” Knutson-Lycholat continues. “While we resist the idea of growing old with its accompanying decline in health, inevitably unforeseen health issues will crop up. The bottom line is that we are going to need home modifications if we want to live comfortably.”
The number of CAPS graduates is skyrocketing. “While the graduation rate continues to increase for all the certified NAHB graduate programs, the CAPS designation is setting records. The first class was offered in 2002; through May of this year there have been 435 graduates, and there are at least 100 applicants currently signed up for classes. It’s truly a phenomenal growth pattern,” says Dan Bawden, CAP, GMB, CGR, president of Legal Eagle Contractors, Co. in Houston.
Jumping on the Bandwagon
“Everyone has a connection,” continues Bawden. “Everyone knows someone who can benefit from accessible design. Aging-in-place is consumer driven, and consumers are beginning to understand the value of home modification and universal design. They realize that the cost of modifying their home, or designing a new one with accessible features, is negligible compared to the cost of assisted living, and that is one reason the CAPS designation has transcended the remodeling industry.”
In April, the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) approved two CAPS courses — “Working With and Marketing to Older Adults” and “Home Modifications” — as continuing education units. The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) also recently approved CAPS courses as continuing education units.
Professionals in the medical, realty, architectural and other disciplines, as well as individuals in the private sector, are taking the CAPS training to better understand the types of changes that should be made to every room in the house to accommodate not only the older population, but every member of the family, including grandchildren.
The Boomer Mindset
Exploring the mindset of boomers is critical to understanding their zest for life and their aversion to anything that makes them feel old, including grab bars and other products they feel are “institutional.”
“Remodelers and builders have to work to remove the stigma and promote the convenience that aging-in-place design features offer in creating a user-friendly, barrier-free environment without disturbing the aesthetics of a home,” says Bawden. “Today, manufacturers are designing good-looking products, such as grab bars and easy-to-operate windows, to meet the growing demand.”
As boomers get older, the demand for universal designed homes will grow exponentially. “Anyone who has the insight to see what’s coming down the pike will enroll in the CAPS course as quickly as they can,” notes Bawden. “They don’t want to miss the opportunities this designation can help them achieve.”
CAPS Designations Add Credibility
While it’s clear that demographics are a driving force behind the rapid growth of enrollment in the CAPS program, another key benefit of holding the designation is the credibility it establishes among prospective clients.
A study conducted by the AARP revealed that the organization’s members had a healthy distrust of contractors, largely because of watching news shows about unethical contractors involved in sting operations.
Says Bawden, “The knowledge, integrity and reliability associated with individuals who have their CAPS designation is invaluable to all remodelers and builders.”
Jeff Williams, communications manager for Weather Shield Windows & Doors, Medford, WI, is an active member of the Remodelors™ Council Business Associates Committee, and has presented the “America’s Best Remodeling Hall of Fame” Awards since 2001. For more information, e-mail Williams.
The NAHB University of Housing Offers Designation Programs and Other Courses
The NAHB University of Housing offers CAPS, CGR, CGB and a variety of other professional designation programs and business management courses that set builders and remodelers apart from the competition. To learn more about NAHB’s designation programs, visit www.nahb.org/designations. For a complete list of all current education offerings, click here.
Nominate the Best of the Best for Remodelor™ of the Year — Deadline, Sept. 3
Applications for the Remodelors™ Council’s most prestigious awards program, the Remodelor™ of the Year Award, are now available online at www.nahb.org/remodelors under the Awards section. The deadline for applications is Sept. 3.
The Remodelor™ of the Year Award recognizes exemplary NAHB involvement at any level, superior business management and an outstanding contribution to the remodeling industry. Councils should nominate individual remodelers, but the nominee must write his or her own entry essay.
The winner will be announced at the Remodelors™ Council Gala during the 2004 Remodeling Show in Chicago (Oct. 8).
Local Councils Honored With CADRE Awards — Application Deadlines, Sept. 3
The Council Awards for Demonstrating Remodeling Excellence (CADRE) is awarded to local Remodelors™ Councils for superior member service in the categories of:
- Membership Recruitment & Retention
- Community Service Project
- Public Relations & Promotion
- Outstanding Associate Member
- Member Service/Education
- Government Affairs/Legislation
- Outstanding Council Chair
- Outstanding Executive Officer/Council Coordinator
The deadline for entries is Sept. 3. For information, e-mail the Remodelors™ Council or call 800-368-5242 x8216.
Attend the 2005 Custom Builder Symposium
Expand your knowledge “Beyond the Tool Belt” at this year’s Custom Builder Symposium. This is the one event where custom builders can find world-class education and exceptional networking opportunities. For more information, click here.