Caps Connection - December 14, 2006 (Print All Articles)
Remodelers Discuss Housing Needs of Disabled Veterans
NAHB Remodelors Council staff recently met with leaders of the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs to work together on the VA’s Specially Adapted Housing Grants program, which offers disabled veterans funds to build or modify an accessible home.
The grant covers 50% of the housing expenses and has been recently changed so that veterans can use the benefit more than once, up to a life-time limit of $50,000. A limited amount of the funds may also now be used to modify a caretaker’s home.
Among items discussed at the meeting was the council’s CAPS designation, which teaches how to make housing accessible, offering the VA a pool of builders and remodelers with the expertise to meet the needs of disabled veterans. How the VA can work with local home builders associations and Remodelors Councils was also discussed.
The requirements used by the VA to determine whether a veteran is eligible for the housing grant are largely related to limitations in mobility. Additionally:
Those interested in working with the VA on the Specially Adapted Housing grant program should contact their area VA housing agent. To find a VA housing agent in your area visit http://www.homeloans.va.gov/sahagent.htm.
The Specially Adapted Housing grant is one of several VA housing programs and may be used in conjunction with these programs to build or adapt a home:
For more information, e-mail Jim Lapides at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8451.
As you look into the crystal ball, what do you see for 2007? Will your company prosper or can you foresee a slower year compared to years past? Although I doubt we’ll see as much a slow down as the new housing market, it appears that many of us will experience a quieter phone in the coming months.
Fortunately, as a CAPS designee the cards may be stacked in your favor. 2006 ushered the first baby boomers to age 60 and from an aging in place perspective our potential market will swell over the next ten years. This is perhaps an opportunity if you are successful in marketing yourself as the local authority for CAPS related services. It all boils down to how you deliver the message, getting it to the proper decision makers and at the appropriate time.
By now many of us have some experience in the unique marketing and sales challenges that we face in this arena. The one thing I’ve learned is that the vast majority of potential clients don’t really want to invest in “aging in place.” They are willing to spend their money on great design solutions that make their lives easier and their homes more attractive and pleasing to them.
The hidden bonus by using you is that the project is well thought out to incorporate some or possibly many details that also support CAPS design principles. It is here where your value as an aging in place expert comes to life. It is here where every dollar they spend with you is invaluable compared to the untrained service provider and it is here where you should be concentrating your marketing efforts. CAPS education presently is a very unique marketing opportunity and could be extremely valuable to you if properly packaged and presented. The market is yours for the taking.
As far as the program itself is concerned, 2007 should be a very good year, as we will see the CAPS community continue to strengthen. Our number of designees has surpassed 1000 nationally and hopefully CAPS will continue to contribute strongly to NAHB’s University of Housing educational efforts for both new CAPS designee training as well as for renewals. 2007 will be the year we also roll out the newly rewritten Working with and Marketing to Older Adults and Home Modifications core courses.
As I step down in February as chair of the CAPS Board of Governors I want to wish the best of luck to our CAPS Board and their new chairperson, Cindy Knutson-Lycholat CGR, CR, CAPS.
I also want to encourage you to become active in the future of CAPS by volunteering your time at the local, state or national level. We need you to continue to bolster this exciting program and to assist in taking it to new levels of recognition and acceptance across the nation. We pledge to continue to help you but we also would encourage and appreciate your assistance as well. Together we can make a difference!
Bill Owens, CGR, CAPS
50+ Housing Council Research Explores the Connected Lifestyle
Whirlpool Corporation, a Platinum Sponsor of the 50+ Housing Council, is leading a research project with the Continental Automated Buildings Association’s (www.caba.org) Internet Home Alliance (IHA). The study will look at what the 50+ housing consumer is looking for in a connected lifestyle. The research seeks to better define:
The findings will be available to 50+ Housing Council members via www.nahb.org/50plusresearch and information will be available to Certified Aging-in- Place Specialists (CAPS) through NAHB’s Remodelors Council.
IHA is a cross-industry network of leading companies engaged in collaborative research to advance the connected home space. The Alliance's research projects enable participating companies to gain important insights into the connected home space and leverage those insights into viable new business opportunities. Key members of IHA include AT&T, Cisco Systems, Inc., Direct Energy, General Motors, Hewlett-Packard Company, Microsoft Corporation, Panasonic of North America, SupportSoft Inc., Visonic Inc., and Whirlpool Corporation.
The research project will be conducted in two phases:
Through this effort, stakeholders hope to gain insights that enable project team members to offer and produce appropriate solutions to the senior housing market. This would include, but not be limited to, hard goods and managed services that would enhance and encourage an independent, connected lifestyle. The research findings will benefit 50+ Housing Council members by making them aware of these needs as this market segment grows, and show NAHB members how to profitably provide additional value to clients looking for these types of solutions.
This project will also supplement separate research efforts now underway by NAHB’s National Sales and Marketing Council, The NAHB Research Center and the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association to learn from homebuilders, remodelers, and potential home buyers about the attractive value propositions for Electronic Solutions Company (ESC) services to each buying segment, and decision-making factors important to professional builders and remodelers when purchasing ESC services. Those results will be shared at the 2007 International Builders Show in Orlando, Fla.
Asking the Right Questions
It doesn’t happen often — or let’s say it only happens in certain instances. But, I have to admit there are times in my life where my head starts spinning and I temporarily lose all ability to respond to outside stimuli.
For instance, when my three boys (ages 7, 5 and 3) are running around like animals right before their bedtime and I’ve reached my limit for chaos, I tell them it’s time to settle down and go to bed. Inevitably they reply, “But why do we have to go to bed?” For at least a few moments, the pressure in my brain spikes, my eyes roll back into my head and I lose all ability to speak, frozen in time by the inability to choose from the multitude of reasons why they must be in bed — now.
A similar moment occurred the other day when I was stopped by a colleague of mine, asking me about what he should do to help his client’s home become more accessible to some new physical limitations he was now facing. Needless to say, I felt another spell coming on.
The one thing I’ve learned over the last dozen years in dealing with accessibility, barriers and physical challenges is that there is no such thing as “THE” answer for these issues. So much as it’s virtually impossible for my mechanic to assess the issues I’m having with my car over the phone (although I can do some pretty good impersonations of the clunks and creaks my car makes), assessing the issues facing a person with new-found challenges without an in-depth analysis of their situation is futile.
Sometimes as builders and remodelers, we tend to focus our attention on the barrier itself. “How am I going to fit a ramp in these tight quarters?” or “How can I get these grab bars installed without any backer?” Instead of solving the problem — which is what we all do so well — we need to understand the person first.
Far more than just knowing a ramp needs to be installed or that help in and out of the tub can be achieved with some grab bars, to truly be experts, we first need to understand the client and exactly what their limitations are. How do they live their lives? What is important to them and how have things changed that makes those important things in their life difficult to accomplish?
It is our duty to explain to them why this step is so critical to the success of the project and their ability to live the way they want to live. By asking the right questions and even asking them to try and perform the difficult task, you can be certain as to what might be the best options for them.
Understandably, some obstacles are more obvious than others, but it’s important you understand it fully. The key here is asking the right questions and listening to the answers. Don’t presume you know how to eliminate their obstacles until you’ve heard the client confirm it.
There is no formal list of questions or list of solutions we as remodelers and builders can present to our clients. Instead, we must go in with the purpose of investigating their needs and abilities as well as their wants and wishes. The questions we ask will vary to the same degree as the answers themselves. Show them what you’ve heard by giving them your notes and ask their permission to move forward with this information.
After you’ve walked through a day in the life of your client and you’re absolutely positive you’ve heard what they’ve told you, then it’s time to work on the solutions. Show them products. Explain how they work. Give your client options and the benefits to each. Now is where all your hard work at the beginning will pay off.
There is no price tag for independence. By asking the right question and actively listening to your clients, you’ll not only help them clear these new hurdles and get back to doing what’s important in their life, you just might also become their hero.
Stebnitz Builders, Inc is a nationally recognized and award-winning remodeling firm based in Delavan, Wisconsin. They provide kitchen and bath remodeling, additions and whole-house renovations in and around Walworth County and southeastern Wisconsin. Stebnitz Builders, Inc. was founded in 1972 by Stan Stebnitz and purchased by his sons, Dave and Dan Stebnitz, in 1985. Stebnitz Builders continued the tradition of family ownership through a third generation as Chris Stebnitz, Dave's son, became an owner in 2005. Chris is the 2007 Lakeland Builders Association President and a Wisconsin Builders Association Board Member.
The South and the West Will Go Grayer Faster
As boomers "age in place" and new ones move in, the Sun Belt and Western states will age much faster than the Rust Belt and the Plains states. That's the prediction of Brookings Institution demographer William H. Frey in a new 108-page study for the Mortgage Bankers Association's Research Institute for Housing America.
For the complete Business Week Online Article for Dec. 1, follow this link: www.businessweek.com/the_thread/hotproperty/archives/2006/12/the_south_and_t.html?campaign_id=rss_blog_hotproperty
Frey’s study can be found here: http://housingamerica.org/docs/6694_00Demographics_WP_WB.pdf
When you visit Susan Forrest’s home in Sturgeon, Mo., you are immediately aware that you have entered into an artist’s haven. And when she needed to remodel her home, Susan wanted a remodeler who could create a functional, yet imaginative space for her work. That remodeler was Kerry Bramon, CGR of Kerry Bramon Remodeling and Design.
The key to the remodel was in the design. Susan worked closely with in-house designer Angela Holloway, ASID to create the space she wanted. Beginning with floor plans and perspectives, the two discussed materials and were able to work out many details. Sitting at the computer, changes could be made onscreen and visualized before any construction began.
Initially, Forrest was interested in fixing up her two bathrooms. One was in need of total renovation, while the other bathroom needed to be adapted for handicap accessibility for Susan’s elderly mother. In this bath, the Bramon crew widened the doorway and adapted the shower for wheelchair use. They utilized space from an existing closet by moving walls, and a tunnel skylight was created to bathe the room in natural sunlight.
Using some of the floor space from the adjoining bedroom, the master bath was enlarged. By moving the wall, a contemporary step-in shower with a seat and handrail were added. A large bay window surrounds a jetted tub, allowing for spacious views of the outside.
The Bramon crew also removed the walls that separated the living and dining rooms and supported the roof. In addition, they vaulted the southern half of the roof and added three skylights in the new living area to bring in more natural light.
To integrate the space together, large ceramic tiles were diagonally set to amplify the scale of the new room. The natural, airy look is carried over by the celery-colored walls and rich wood cabinetry, which complements the various styles of artwork on the walls. The cozy living area boasts an entertainment center, a window seat and ample storage. Outlets were placed in the floor to allow a flexible seating plan and clean look free of cords.
By taking out the walls, the kitchen area was opened up and renovated. Additionally, a wider profile was created to adapt the kitchen for senior living, and the appliances were positioned below wide Silkstone counter tops to allow for a wheelchair-bound person to operate them.
While most people can think of their own reasons to renovate, Susan Forrest began the remodeling process to accommodate for her mother who came to live with her toward the end of the project. And while her mother did not live long afterward to truly enjoy the changes in the home, Susan decided that she will continue to live there. Whether she’s sewing a quilt, gardening, painting or watching her grandchildren, Susan Forrest now has a creative and unique place to truly call her own.
As a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, Kerry Bramon, owner of Kerry Bramon Remodeling & Design, entered the construction business in 1977. In 1996, Kerry achieved the Certified Graduate Remodeler (CGR) designation granted by the National Association of Home Builders. He has served as past president of the Home Builders Association of Columbia, the Columbia Remodelers Council, and serves on the advisory board for the Columbia chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties Builds 25 Ramps to Freedom
On Saturday, May 20, the Master Builders Care Foundation, along with volunteer members of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBA) Remodelors Council, changed people’s lives. With the help of more than 300 volunteers donating in excess of 3,000 total hours, Rampathon 2006 Presented by HomeStreet Bank rolled out across the Puget Sound region, resulting in construction of 25 free ramps for low-income homeowners. Rampathon celebrated its 13th year with added media exposure for the one-day event.
In Seattle, a lively 11-year-old named Crystal Cunningham, who has multiple disabilities, received her ramp two days early, as well as a visit from many supporters of Rampathon. The Seattle Seahawks supported the event by sending former All-Pro Tight End Charle Young, the Seagals and the team’s mascot Blitz to the Cunningham’s home.
The event generated more community exposure through television and newspaper coverage than ever before for Rampathon, home building industry and MBA volunteers. NBC affiliate KING-TV, its sister stations KONG-TV and Northwest Cable News, and FOX affiliate KCPQ-TV all filmed work at the Cunningham ramp. Additionally, 12 area newspapers ran Rampathon photos and stories.
KING-TV reporter Tim Robinson called Rampathon “very important, a great event for those in need. Rampathon is a great effort from the MBA.”
Crystal’s father, John Cunningham, in thanking Riley Shirey and Donna Shirey, CGR, CAPS, of Shirey Contracting, the remodeling company that lead other Ramp Captains in completing the ramp, stated, “The Master Builders Association and Shirey Contracting displayed great kindness and charity in this effort. This ramp will make things so much easier…it’s gotten so difficult to carry Crystal.”
Joseph Irons, CGR, GMB, CAPS, of Irons Brothers Construction, Inc., served as a Rampathon Team Captain for the first time this year. Irons worked on Hertha Brunson’s home, where she will enjoy increased freedom and independence at home on her newly constructed ramp. Hertha, who has dementia, lives with her full-time caregiver and son, Michael Brunson. Michael is also disabled and suffers visual impairments.
Another grateful recipient, Janice Belotti Place of Seattle, wrote, “I want to let you know how thankful I am for the efforts of the Master Builders [Association] of King and Snohomish Counties. Your help made my day easier and my life so much better. Thanks so much for sending Roy from Jackson Remodeling to my rescue.”
The success of the Care Foundation’s Rampathon Presented by HomeStreet Bank would not have been possible without the generous support of a Rampathon Committee, chaired this year by Darylene Dennon of Solid Energy Inc., individual committee members, ramp captains, their crew members and the event volunteers who delivered coffee, donuts and lunches to each site, from Enumclaw in the south to Arlington in the north.
Rampathon remains a national model program, and the committee is seeking ways to replicate it within home building associations outside King and Snohomish counties.
For more information about Master Builders Care Foundation or Rampathon contact Jay Schupack at 425-460-8229.
Universal Design: A Home for Everyone
Tuesday morning the Greater Prince William Coalition on Universal Design marked the official opening of the Universal Design Demonstration House in Bristow, VA with a dedication ceremony and open house with free tours.
Leon Harper, M.A., CAPS, Chairman of the Greater Prince William Coalition on Housing and Universal Design, gave a benediction address and opening remarks for the ceremony. Harper said, “This is just a beginning of a revolution so people can live in independence for the rest of their lives.“
At the open house, the Board of County Supervisors presented the Coalition, Centex Homes and Devereaux & Associates with a commendation for bringing this demonstration house to fruition. Wally Covington, Prince William Board of County Supervisors- Brentsville District, further commented, “The time has come. Prince William County is proud to showcase this home. It represents progressive thinking and allows families to spend more time together.”
The house was created to show potential homeowners features which allow individuals to be more comfortable and safe in their homes throughout the course of their lifetime.
Features include wider entry ways with ramps at both the front and garage entrances for wheel chair or stroller access; wider hallways and stairways; tub seats and roll up counters and sinks; and an elevator shaft for when that is necessary to build into the home. This house allows people of all ages to live independently by increasing usability and access.
A house built with Universal Design features is adaptable and will meet the lifestyle needs of active families as they change over time. The design will also satisfy the growing desire of adults to stay in their home after retirement and age in place
The house is located at 10616 Poagues Battery Drive in Bristow, VA. Tours are free to the public. Interested groups are welcome to have meetings at the house. For special arrangements or more information, call 703-792-6400, or visit the Web site at www.pwcgov.org/ud.
Thank You to Our Strategic Partners
Thank you to the NAHB Remodelors Council Strategic Partners for providing valuable support for remodeling education. Show your support by visiting their Web sites.
Platinum Level Strategic Partner
Pella Corporation continues its tradition of support of the Remodelors Council as the first Platinum Level Strategic Partner under the new sponsorship program. Pella Corporation is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of premium-quality windows and doors. Pella offers a full range of residential and commercial products under three distinct product lines — Architect Series, Designer Series and ProLine. Pella’s Precision Fit windows are high-quality wood replacement windows. Extensive information about the company and its products is available at www.Pella.com.
Whirlpool Corporation is the world's leading manufacturer and marketer of major home appliances. The company markets Whirlpool, KitchenAid, Brastemp, Bauknecht, Consul and other major brand names to consumers in more than 170 countries. Understanding the unique needs of customers and translating those needs into products and services that build long-term loyalty is the fundamental approach of Whirlpool. Whirlpool’s portfolio of brands offers solutions to the diverse needs of their customers in every home ... everywhere. Visit the company web site at www.whirlpoolcorp.com.
GE Consumer Finance
GE Consumer Finance is a leading provider of financial services to consumers and retailers in 39 countries around the world. As a unit of the General Electric Company, it offers a full range of innovative financial products to suit our partners' needs. Those products include private label credit cards, personal loans, bank cards, auto loans and leases, mortgages, corporate travel and purchasing cards, debt consolidation, home equity loans and credit insurance. For more information about GE Consumer Finance, visit www.geconsumerfinance.com.
With fiscal year 2005 sales of $43.2 billion, Lowe's Companies, Inc. is a FORTUNE® 50 company that serves approximately 12 million customers a week at more than 1,225 home improvement stores in 49 states. Based in Mooresville, N.C., the 60-year old company is the second-largest home improvement retailer in the world. For more information, visit www.Lowes.com.
Gold Level Strategic Partners
Georgia-Pacific® Building Products
Georgia-Pacific® Building Products provides a wide array of building products to the single and multi-family builder and commercial construction marketplace. With a well established position as a brand leader in building products, Georgia-Pacific is known for providing high quality, reliable building materials and highly innovative products that provide important building solutions. Georgia-Pacific products include structural panels (plywood and oriented strand board), gypsum wallboard, lumber products, engineered lumber and Industrial Wood products. For more information visit http://www.gp.com/build
Marvin Windows and Doors
Marvin Windows and Doors is the original and only made-to-order company. The company's wood and clad wood windows and doors go through a meticulous process that starts with the best wood, greater care and thorough handcrafting, until your project is complete. Information on Marvin products, installation instructions, case studies, a virtual tour of the factory and much more are available at http://www.marvin.com/.
Wells Fargo provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage and consumer finance – for more than 23 million customers through 6,160 stores, the internet and other distribution channels across North America and elsewhere internationally. Their vision is to satisfy all customers’ financial needs, help them succeed financially, be known as one of America’s great companies and the number-one financial services provider.