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  • I Can Install a Grab Bar, What Do I Need an Architect For?

    Aaron D. Murphy

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    Hey, Aaron Murphy, ForeverHome. I can install a grab bar. So why do I need an architect? I've stood on this comment for quite some time, and I figured it was time to speak up. Now, I've said it before. I'll say it again. I work with wonderful general contractors every day. And they're a vital and valuable part of the design and construction team. They understand this discussion, and they're in agreement with me. So I'm not.preaching to the choir, this is a higher level discussion. So let's all settle down, take a deep breath and move on to an educated discussion on a very vital and timely topic. It's been relayed to me more than once, secondhand about some GCs, general contractors out there, as they're talking to a client about wanting to make alterations to their homes so that that'll work better for them in their second half of life as their needs change at home.AKA aging in place, the industry standard, languaging at this time. Normally I wouldn't take offense, but in this situation I find it's actually a good time for me to stand up for my industry as a designer and help set the record straight about why do you need an architect, a professional designer, especially someone that understands the specific client's need and at this project time in their life. So.A question or two to that non-CAPS certified GC about your client. Do they know what the client's occupational therapist recommends? Which grab bar is going to work best for them? What their options are? What the specifications are on that particular mobility device? At what height and angle it should be installed for each specific movement and mobility need in each location it's required?Do they know the specifications on the client's wheelchair, walker or other mobility device if they have one? Turning radius, options that may suit them better than their current device if they don't have an occupational or physical therapist, recommendations for who could help with OT or PT input if they don't have that relationship already, where they can go with their family members to look at other mobility device options for themselves in their home?What about this question? Do they know not just what their budget is for the potential construction project work at the house, but also how that budget and cost ties into their overall plan for their funds and retirement, their monthly cashflow and expenses, their ability to pay for in-home care, their ability to make a finance payment based on their income distributions that their investments are paying out in their fixed income chapter of life?on a monthly or annual basis. How about this question? Do they know how to address and advise them on different ways they could fund the project, who they can trust to finance an aging in place remodel, what a reverse mortgage is and who they could talk to to see if it might make sense in their situation? Does your GC have the ability to discuss other housing solutions if staying at home isn't the best answer for their situation?Once they've peeled the onion and gotten to the real truth by staying in a empathetic and long conversation, learning about their needs, situation, conditions and wishes. Do they know where in their area they could go look at other housing options if they're considering those as well in comparison to remodeling their home to stay there? How about this question? Do they know all the aspects of a quality, age and place experience?Do they understand how daylight affects the client's psychological health? Do they understand that white surfaces could cause vertigo in Alzheimer's clients? Do they understand that glare is more debilitating when you're 90 than when you're 20? Do they know that colors, transitions, lighting, fixture locations, height, floor plan layout, cabinet elevations and upgrades, appliance selections, heights, locations, as it relates to the specificexcuse me, of the client, which could make or break their happiness, functional use in their space, and therefore the success of keeping them at home, successfully aging in place with that remod. Bottom line, does the general contractor know what aging in place clients' goals are? Do they know their limitations? Do they know their concern? I mentioned peeling that onion.The truth is always three levels deep. Are they trained to stay in that conversation and ask questions that'll get you real answers? Why am I throwing my hat in the national Aging in Place ring? Why am I working so hard at sharing Aging in Place as a message from stages and microphones as often as I can find it? Well, in all honesty, we're an Aging in Place coach.I consider an architect in general to be a quarterback and a concierge. I know that we're just one piece of a puzzle, but we're a valuable team member and one of many other professionals that equates to a full system and a best-case-turn key or one-stop shopping solution for helping a client to stay in their home. That's what they want. Autonomy. Independence. And the power of their own choice.Our clients in this field and demographic want respect, trust, they want value, and they want a turnkey solution where all the team members are honest, ethical, and they communicate well with each other. 89% of older Americans, according to AARP, polls would prefer to live at home, regardless of a possible change in their physical, mental, or emotional state that might occur with age. using architect? Well, speaking for ourselves only, it would be based on this. We have the training of NIHB National Association of Home Builders, accreditation as a certified aging and place specialist, CAPS. We have the niche industry and business model homework established and continually ongoing. We have the professional relationships established over two decades in the fields of architecture and real estate investing.We have the professional network connections across in our state, Washington and growing quickly to uncover the entire tire us.We have a clear understanding through that ongoing homework of the other industries that are required to interface with this client as they're staying at home solution. I can refer my clients to all the potential team members they may need in their area to complete that dream of aging in place. This might include CAP certified GCs, CAP certified interior designers.occupational therapists, physical therapists, financial retirement planner, reverse mortgage specialist, elder law attorney, just to name a few. We also have an architectural license and 25 plus years of experience in the field. We've been over, we've been a part of over a million square feet of public space, actually approaching close to two million at this point.with ADA accessible commercial buildings, which includes design permitting and construction of office buildings, banks, multi unit, multi family, apartment buildings, et cetera. We've worked with all types of construction materials, steel, concrete, CMU, stucco, wood. We've done site planning for millions of square feet and public facilities. We're also well-versed and experienced as a residential architect and a real estate investor. We've rehabbed and flipped houses for sale, held rentals and been a landlord on multiple homes and commercial buildings, including executing lease options. My point is this, I understand ROI. I understand where to spend your money and where not to, depending on what your needs are and your timeline for a return on investment. There's a lot of pieces to this equation and understanding them all is critical. But most importantly, as a result of all this training, I can listen and empathize with emotional changes as we work through the challenges that are facing our client. That's what's different. That's why we're a part of this team and it matters. At the end of the day, in my own humble, yet educated opinion, I can install a grab bar isn't enough for our clients.It doesn't address their dreams. It doesn't address their goals. Doesn't address their limitations or their concerns. It doesn't even come close to answering the question, how can I age in place successfully? We believe that's a team answer and we can help.

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