Seniors deal with two issues unique to their population when undertaking home improvement or repair. Here’s what they are, and how to deal with them.

THE ISSUES:

(1) Seniors are targeted by scammers in larger numbers than other populations.

(2) Seniors are often healthy enough to stay in their homes with modifications for mobility, ease of day-to-day life, and safety. Examples include wider doorways to accommodate wheel chairs and walkers, a caregiver suite, or grab bars near the tub. These projects need to be done correctly to ensure safety and maximum utility (no one wants that grab bar to fall out of the wall when they really need it!)

DEALING WITH THE ISSUES:

(1) Scams

Identify the bad guys. Here are some indications you’re about to be taken:

  • A “contractor” comes to your door offering help you didn’t know you needed (“I can see from here that your roof needs work.”)
  • He says he has material left over from a nearby job and offers to improve your home for “a great price “ to get rid of the excess.
  • He offers “today only pricing.”
  • He tries to pressure you with guilt (“I left my family to meet with you on a Saturday”) or urgency (“That roof is shot and it will be a wet spring.”)
  • He asks you to pay in advance and/or with cash (although a reasonable downpayment as part of a written contract is appropriate.)

Identify the good guys. At HomeWise, we check these things before adding any contractor to our network:

  • Are they licensed? (A contractor’s license, not just a business license.)
  • Do they have the right license for your job? In VA, contractors are restricted by license class (A, B, or C) to particular sized jobs and by license designation (plumbing, hvac, etc.) to particular types of jobs.
  • Are they insured?
  • Are they complaint-free with local consumer affairs bureaus, licensing agencies, Better Business Bureau, or online review sources?
  • What do their references have to say about them?
  • How long have they been in business? New business owners may not have the acumen to run their companies efficiently, no matter how many years’ experience they claim to have in the industry. You could find your deposit, intended for materials on your job, diverted to someone else’s project.

(2) Special Modifications

Ask questions of your contractor. Find out how much experience they have with the sort of project you need done. Solicit their advice as to what other modifications they believe would make the aging-in-place process as easy as possible. At HomeWise, we refer contractors with the CAPS (Certified Aging In Place Specialist) designation for those jobs that would benefit from it.

Seniors are living longer and healthier lives than ever before. A few well-placed and properly executed home improvements or modifications can ensure they stay safely and comfortably in their own homes for as long as possible.

This article is posted courtesy of Homewise Referrals. If you’re looking for a pre-screened home improvement contractor in the Alexandria, VA area, check out their website at www.homewisereferrals.com.

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