Aging Population Means Business

An aging population of Baby Boomers, whether they want to remain in their homes or choose to move in with relatives, represents an opportunity for remodelers to upgrade homes and design remodeling projects to meet the needs of older residents.

In addition to those who wish to remain in their homes, an increasing number of seniors is now living under the same roof with at least one other generation. According to a recent survey conducted for the international caregiving company Home Instead Senior Care, 43 percent of adult caregivers in the United States ages 35 to 62 live with the parent, step-parent or older relative for whom they or someone else in their household provides care.

Adult children who move a senior into their home, or who move into a senior’s home, should ensure that their loved ones are safe by conducting a physical inventory with an eye toward safety and comfort, according to Dan Bawden CGR, CAPS, GMB, owner of Legal Eagle Contractors in Houston and one of the founders of the Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS) program for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

Bawden offered the following tips to make homes safer for seniors:

Falls: Seniors may be vulnerable to falls, particularly on or near stairs. To make a home safer, remove area rugs on and near the top and bottom of stairs. Make sure railings are on both sides of the stairs. Cost to add railing on one side: between $200 and $300.

Security: Osteoporosis changes the height of some seniors, making it difficult for them to look through a door’s peephole. Why not add an additional, lower peephole to your front door for about $40.

Tripping: Changes in floor height between a hallway and the bedroom door entry can be a tripping hazard. A wood transition strip can be installed to even out the difference for a cost of about $100.

Entry Hazards: Seniors coming to the front door with groceries or other packages may be at risk of dropping their merchandise or, even worse, falling. A contractor can construct a shelf on the outside of the house on which to set keys and packages. Cost for materials and installation, about $75.

Burns: Older adults with mobility issues can be vulnerable to cooking accidents. Ovens on the market now open from the side, making it easier for someone in a wheelchair or with a walker. Cost is between $800 and $1,000.

Lighting: Macular degeneration and other eye issues can make older adults susceptible to vision problems. Recessed lighting — four lights placed about 4 ft. from the corners of the ceiling — provides excellent bedroom light for older adults. Cost installed: about $150 per light fixture or $600 for a bedroom.

Home Instead Senior Care’s comfort and safety program is part of the company’s Too Close for Comfort? public education campaign, which also addresses the emotional and financial aspects of intergenerational living. For more information visit:


New Certification Programs and Fee Cuts Announced

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) announced two new certification programs. The Universal Design Certified Remodeler (UDCR) and the Master Certified Remodeler (MCR) will both launch in the all of 2009.

The UDCR certification correlates with the Universal Remodeling Course and recognizes remodeling contractors with expertise in applying Universal Design Principles to residential remodeling projects.

The MCR program will recognize those individuals with a minimum of 10 continuous years as a Certified Remodeler (CR), have at least one additional current NARI certification (CKBR, CLC, or GCP) and have demonstrated chapter, community, and/or remodeling industry involvement.

Also, effective July 1, 2009 The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) is rolling back the prices on its certification programs. The Certified Remodeler (CR) and Certified Kitchen & Bath Remodeler (CKBR) will be reduced to $599 and the Certified Lead Carpenter) CLC will be reduced to $395. These prices will be in effect until May 15, 2010. For the CR program only — those participants get an even deeper discount (cost of $479) by testing by December 15, 2009.

In addition, the NARI Certification Board recently completed revision of the Certified Remodeler (CR) exam. While the scope of the exam has not changed, the number of questions in the exam has been reduced from 550 to 200, and will be implemented in the fall 2009.


Hybrid Water Heater Creates Jobs

About 400 jobs will be created at a Louisville General Electric plant where a new electric water heater will be built.

The technology was developed through a collaboration between the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and GE. Oak Ridge’s Patrick Hughes said the water heater will benefit consumers with its energy efficiency and cost savings.

“It will give you as much hot water and have the same recovery times so you won’t run out of hot water, but it will use half the energy to do so,” Hughes said. “A typical family of four will save between $250 to $300 per year.” GE’s hybrid electric water heaters may be available to consumers as early as October and production starts in Louisville in 2011.