With people increasingly looking toward aging in place as an alternative—or perhaps just a delay—to moving into a retirement community, it’s becoming necessary to make homes “livable” for as long as possible. This can be done with some remodeling or retrofitting, and some aging-in-place experts are finding themselves in consulting roles.
In some cases, those who are doing consultations are not the ones actually implementing those suggestions, which is left for contractors. But this advice is still valuable, so it’s up to these consultants to make sure they get compensated.
This initially presented somewhat of a challenge to Aaron Murphy of ADM Architecture, LLC, a licensed architect who is also a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) through the National Association of Home Builders program.
“The challenge is, the contractor has trouble seeing the value of the architect,” he says. “In this economy, contractors are pretty quick to say, I can put in a grab bar, what do you need an architect for?”
This led to an occasion when Murphy conducted an aging in place assessment and wrote up a summary, only to have a contractor carry out—and get paid for—the suggestions.
Since then, he’s begun charging a flat-rate fee for two-hour or four-hour consultations. These visits include taking measurements, writing summaries, and doing sketches of what his suggestions might look like in effect. And while business has been slow at first, there is a rise in the number of people seeking to remain at home, and Murphy is searching for ways to take advantage of the trend.
He’s looking into the concept of subscription-based lead generation, where he compiles a national database of people who can opt-in to receive newsletters or an RSS feed for his blog, which could turn into leads he could pass onto local contractors.
“I view it as empowering the mature market,” he says, referencing his Empowering the Mature Mind service he’s developing.
Another CAPS-certified consultant, Jill Bjerke, owner and president of Cut the Clutter Co. and its division, Aging in Place with Grace, wrote her own software program that allows a contractor/remodeler or anyone who works with seniors to “do an extremely thorough age in place home assessment.”
Her program covers “everything from the height and type of switches, to flooring, to hardware on cabinets,” and pulls in a lot of universal design and ADA compliance suggestions, as well.
“I have had an architect, a certified kitchen/bath designer, and others review it,” says Bjerke, who says the assessment can take longer than an hour to conduct. “I do it for my clients and charge about $150 for it, but at the end, I print out a report that tells the client what changes they could make to remain safe in their home as they age.”
Her program is currently being formatted into software and Bjerke says she hopes it will be ready for sale by the end of spring.
Written by Alyssa Gerace