How to Hire a Designer to Create an Accessible Bathroom
LESLIE: Tracy in Texas is on the line and needs some help with a universal-design project. Tell us what you’re working on.
TRACY: I have a daughter who’s 21 years old and we need some help when it comes to bathing her. We’re looking at doing a bathroom addition onto her room but we don’t even know, really, how to get started. Do we need to consult with an architect on the design advice? She’s homebound, medically fragile, 100-percent disabled and we just are looking at some advice on how to even get started to meet her needs so that we only have to do this one time.
LESLIE: Is a tub situation easier for you or is a shower?
TRACY: Probably a shower.
LESLIE: OK. Because there are the tubs with the doors that open. It depends on how difficult it would be to sort of move her from chair to seated tub position. It just depends on how comfortable you are with the bathing situation, if you want to get in there and get wet.
But Tom and I have actually done a lot of work with universal design and are quite familiar with some of the processes.
TOM: Well, that’s right. And I do think it’s a good idea to use a certified kitchen-and-bath designer and that’s somebody who is going to be specializing in universal design. You’re going to ask specifically for someone that has that talent, because they’re going to be up-to-speed on the best products that are out there for your particular situation, be able to recommend appropriately and you’re going to get a bathroom that actually looks nice and functions well for you.
I would not, would not call a standard remodeling contractor. Because a remodeling contractor will say, “Yeah, I understand. I know what to do.” And you know what? They just don’t, because it’s very specialized.
In fact, some years ago, Leslie, didn’t the AARP have a special certification program for contractors and architects that were working with universal-design situations?
LESLIE: They did. It was through the Homebuilders Association. And they had a special course that you could take to become certified as a universal-design specialist. So you might want to start with the AARP’s website, just to find some recommendations of folks in your area who are certified. I believe it was called the CAPS – Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist – Program.
And even though that’s not necessarily your need, it has similar associations. So you might want to start there as far as just trying to find somebody who can help you find the right products. Because you want something that looks good, you don’t want it to feel like a hospital, you want it to function and you want it to be done right the first time.
TOM: They have a lot of resources for universal design. Probably the best collection anywhere online is on the AARP website. You just simply click on the Home & Family section and then Home Improvement and you’ll find a lot there.
They also have a section on livable communities, because the universal design just makes sense for folks of any age, whether you are a senior citizen, whether you are disabled or whether you are just a mom that comes home with her arms full of grocery bags and needs to pop open a door with her elbow because she can’t really turn a door knob. You know, there’s tips like that that really make it so much easier for you to live comfortably in your house, regardless of age or physical condition. So I would start there, as well.
But make sure you work with people that are experienced in universal design. There are lots and lots of people out there. You’ve just got to find them, OK?
TRACY: Great. Thank you so much for your help.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project.