submitted by Tom Wells, Tom Wells Construction, LLC, www.tgw-construction.com
We do a lot of big jobs, jobs like adding rooms or entire multi-floor additions to homes, jobs that involve many of our favorite subcontractors in many different trades, jobs that, I’m pleased to say, absolutely delight our clients.
However, we have one cardinal rule, regardless of the job. As Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS), we always suggest that the client consider planning for his or her “golden years” when remodeling any room or when adding on.
Our reason is simple, and I think the logic is unassailable: as long as you’re having work done, it just makes good sense to do so with an eye to a future when your body may confront you with certain physical challenges that you don’t face right now. Doing so rarely, if ever, costs much more than doing things the “conventional” way.
Also, whether you personally benefit or decide to move elsewhere in the future, aging-in-place modifications can add significantly to your home’s resale value. Remember, the whole point is to postpone – hopefully forever – the time when you (or the people who buy your home) have to move to an assisted living facility.
What kind of CAPS modifications are involved? Let’s start with the bathroom.
You might be dismayed to learn that researchers at the government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that nearly a quarter million people go to the emergency room each year because they got hurt in the bathroom. Two thirds of them were women.
The majority of injuries happened in a shower or tub (slippery surfaces; no grab bars). So, it just makes good sense to install grab bars in a shower or tub’s surround.
We’ve discussed grab bars in a previous column, but a central thought bears repeating. Namely, no bathroom towel bar should be installed that isn’t also rated as a grab bar. Typically that means that it is designed to support up to 300 pounds.
Also, please remember that fully rated grab bars come in many decorative styles and finishes. There is absolutely no reason why they have to look like they came out of a stall in a Pennsylvania Turnpike rest station.
It goes without saying that you should use a low profile bathmat with a rubber skid-proof backing. And all faucets – but particularly those in the shower – should be equipped with “scald-guard” mechanisms. That’s an excellent idea regardless of your remodeling plans and goals. Scald-protected fixtures insure that the water temperature does not rise above 110 degrees Farenheit.
Now let’s talk about bathing options. I’m a shower person myself. But I know many people who enjoy an occasional “deep soak” in a tub.
My point is that, regardless of your preference, the height of the tub is a very important consideration. Many tubs are 14 inches high, though the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) calls for tubs that are 16.25 inches high. In our experience, this is actually too high for many people to step into.
Of course, it’s possible to sit on the tub edge and swing your legs over.
My advice is first, to be aware that tubs are available in many heights and many lengths. And second, go to a showroom to get a better idea of what it will be like if you install a particular tub of a particular height.
There is a great deal more to be said, including information on toilets, vanities, non-skid tile, and many other considerations.
But for reasons of space, it will have to wait until next month’s column. So, stay tuned!