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What is CAPS and Why does it matter?


Every industry boasts an alphabet soup of trade designations, so what's so special about CAPS? Maybe avoiding assisted living and saving tens of thousands of dollars in unnecessary annual expenses. CAPS is literally worth knowing.

A general contractor can build pretty much anything, but serving the aging-in-place market requires putting on one's thinking CAPS. BuilderFish is designated by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) as Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS). Given the alphabet soup of industry designations, I know this doesn't mean much so I'll explain why it matters.

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How should you design a Dream or Last Home?

Look at all those steps.

Imagine building a dream home you can only live in for fifteen to twenty years before you're forced to move. Following the principles of Universal Design ensures usability from cradle to grave for any person of any age or ability.

On my morning jogs during family vacations in Hilton Head Island, I enjoy gazing at the multi-million dollar homes. As I run, each vacation or retirement home seems more luxurious than the ones I've passed and I can only imagine what they're like inside.

But now that I know Universal Design (UD), I view those fancy houses from a different perspective. I see owners who will either spend big bucks to retrofit or eventually they'll be forced to move because they built a dream home, including the landscaping, without considering accessibility and usability for decades down the road. For example, many of these gorgeous homes have grand staircases leading to the front entry or from the foyer to the second floor. How will the occupants navigate with large luggage or when they become elderly and begin to lose mobility?

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What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)?

 



Accessory units enable you to bring care to you as needed so the decision boils down to an opportunity cost of whether to improve or move.

"How can we afford the cost?" Many families agonize over how they'll pay to care for a family member. According to the 2010 Genworth Cost of Care Survey, the median (half below/half above) annual rate for a private nursing home room was $75,190, the expense compounding annually 4.5 percent since 2005.

In many cases, budget-buckling cost leads to the early institutionalization of a loved one simply because family members don't have homes equipped or designed to deal with health/mobility challenges, or extra occupants, and the parent's home has become unsafe or unlivable for various reasons as simple as navigating between rooms. The "solution" becomes limited to selling the elderly owner's home and using the proceeds to move them into some level of assisted living. Families often feel forced into this option even though they would choose to do otherwise if they had more money.

But what if you used the amount that would've been devoted to moving your loved one and instead restructured their home or yours so they could "age in place"? If retrofitting the current home isn't feasible, build on your property an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), also known as a "granny flat" or "in-law suite".

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When remodeling, how worried should I be about lead paint?

 



Worried about the lead in your life? The EPA is because, regardless of whether you reside in a house built before 1978, lead dust can be tracked into your home or drift over from the neighbor's home improvement project.

Please read this if you reside in a home or have a young child who attends child care facilities or schools built before 1978. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) implemented a new law April 22, 2010 requiring any contractor who disturbs paint in homes built before 1978 to be certified as "lead safe" by following strict procedures when renovating. The work practices include comprehensive methods for protecting neighbors from drifting lead dust.

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How safe is your home for the long haul?

 



Is your master bedroom upstairs? For most families it's only a question of when, not if, they will need to decide about the living accommodations of an aging loved one, and the overwhelming majority of older Americans prefer to remain in their current homes.

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Why should I hire a general contractor?

Someone has to supervise, if not who, then it'll be YOU. Hiring a Captain of Construction as your general contractor is a Good Choice (G.C. get it?) unless you enjoy shouldering the job yourself.

I hope this undeniably biased post doesn't read like a sales pitch. Please grant latitude as I explain the answer to the legitimate question, "Why should I hire a general contractor to do this project, won't that cost more?"

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Punt Painting by Using Composite

 



Hate to paint but love the look of wood? Composite is your dream come true.

"Maintenance free" and "no painting" are among our favorite phrases. Some folks actually enjoy cleaning and painting (i.e. The Silly Ones); but, having done both as summer jobs, I believe if you lead a bad life, you'll go to a place where you do that for eternity, so I'll present ideas and innovative products for you to research.

Disclosure: some we've used and others we haven't so don't rely on my writing as necessarily an endorsement, merely a suggestion to consider. Once we learn about your project, budget, personal preferences and unique circumstances, we'll recommend options which might include these.

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Easy Access 5 to 95: Design for any age or stage

 



Will your home age gracefully? Will you be able to live there whether or not YOU age gracefully? Universal Design for the home proactively cures literal obstacles to promote access and livability for as many stages of life as possible.

If you were in a wheelchair, could you pivot in the hallway of your home? Easily enter the bathroom or take a shower? Escape a fire?

Architects and builders address these problems by following Universal Design (developed by North Carolina State University School of Design). Our cause is making home life easier by informing clients about these livability options while work is being planned, recommending a longterm view about accessibility and ease even if the owner plans to move (i.e. attractive features for re-sale).

Universal Design (UD), as the name implies, is a common sense method of making house features comfortable and convenient for as many different people at as many life stages as possible, whether a child, older adult "aging in place" or someone with a physical, even mental, challenge. UD makes homes hassle-free from ages "5 to 95". Who doesn't prefer easier at any age?

Former building code and design standards assumed occupants being an "average person", based on a definition of typical health, height, etc. UD employs simple, proven concepts to make any home more comfortable for a wider range of people including families with young children, people who use walkers/wheelchairs, those taller or shorter than average or those who desire to simplify housekeeping (who doesn't?).

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Don't get green washed.


Feeling Green Washed? (A numbing sensation similar to cramming for finals.) Don't know what to believe about "going green"? And the alphabet soup of acronyms, how do you even remember much less choose?

I'll admit we do sometimes, keeping abreast of the alphabet soup of industry acronyms, certifications and designations. Below I've written a short glossary of some primary certifications (certainly not a comprehensive list). Bottom line, it's all good although skeptics argue the purported savings from "going green" are unverifiable and simply marketing fluff from industry participants trying to reinvent themselves post housing bubble.

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Eco-Bling: Really Cool Roofing

What if your roof grew like hair? Some roofs are literally green while others just have bling.

This post will show-and-tell "cool" (some literally) roofing technology. I'm not endorsing one brand over another. Your budget, goals and personal preference will drive that train. (We'll be happy to give our two cents if you ask based solely on our experience.) This is simply a broad overview of what's available to help you research what might be best for your unique circumstance. Basically I picked the following sites because they have sharp photo galleries.

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Smart Money Insulation

 

Money out the window, literally


Have a hunch you're heating and cooling the Great Outdoors? The wrong choice of insulation can chew your wallet, each and every month.

Home owners often treat insulation as an afterthought but it is arguably the most important building component for boosting efficiency and savings. Yet owners try to go cheap. After all, how sexy is insulation? Insulation isn't cool like geo-thermal or solar systems. You're just stuffing it inside the walls and between the joists where nobody sees it. Who cares? Just put anything in there so at least there's something between the inside and outside, and save a buck while you're at it, right?

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