Q: My senior parents want to make their home safer and easily accessible. How do we find qualified builders who will do a good job?
A: First and foremost, be sure the builder you select has a good track record, references and a current valid contractor's license. Smaller jobs can be handled by a handyman, however at about $75 an hour, multiple projects can add up. If multiple areas of your home need modification it may be worthwhile to seek out a contractor with a range of experience in kitchen, bath and structural remodels.
As with most skilled professionals, a good builder can be reliably located through your own community network of referrals. Local alliances on aging or senior services providers are often a good source. Also, the National Association of Homebuilders website offers a state-by-state directory of builders who are Certified Aging In Place Specialists. These certified builders and remodelers have training in the unique problems of home construction for aging and improving accessibility and can offer good value for the money. If you choose to engage an architect or interior designer to help plan your project, they will be able to refer you to builders that they have deemed reliable.
When you are selecting a builder it is also important to determine if the prospective contractor is sensitive to the emotional stresses that owners and residents can feel during construction. Feel free to ask questions before hiring, and trust your instincts. A good rapport with your chosen builder is an important ingredient in surviving, and even enjoying, the remodeling process.