Changes To Keep In Mind For Age In Place Remodels

I have met with a significant number of homeowners that are concerned about making their homes accessible for their ever-changing needs as they age.  As a specialist in age in place remodeling it has become my mission to create spaces, when remodeling, that ensure clients changing needs will be met through the renovation process.  Aging comes with enough complications; the last thing that homeowners need is added complications surrounding their home.

Ranch vs Two Story

We don’t ever think about growing old when we purchase our first homes but often are first homes become are only home.  With that being said it is important to note that not every homeowner thinks about the hitches that come with owning a two-story home as you get older.  Many older homeowners have decided they want to stay in their two-story home, so it is my job to make it safe for them to access the second floor.  Obviously, an elevator can be installed however this can be quite cost prohibitive, upwards of $30,000 to $65,000, along with ongoing maintenance.  Another option is the installation of a stair lift, which allows the user to go up and down the stairs using an automatic chair.  This is a much more cost-effective option, ranging between $2,500 to $5,500.


Depending on the type of entry way that currently exists the installation of a special ramp that allows access into the home via wheelchair or with walker assistance.    Handicap ramps can be designed to match the homes exterior or able to be removed and transported.  The actual door entrance as well should be evaluated.  A no-step entry way is as important as an entrance without stairs to individuals using devices to assist in maneuvering around.

Wide-Pocket Doors

Wider doors accommodate for the ease of movement using walkers, canes, and wheelchairs.  Another element that is helpful is to switch out commonly used doors throughout the home with pocket doors, when able.  Pocket doors do not need to swing in or out which allows for accessibility to two users if an individual were to need assistance or if mobility assistance devices were used.

Bathroom Modifications

The bathroom and kitchen spaces are the two areas that are of utmost concern when it comes to aging in place.  To combat worry from within the bathroom area there are a number of options to present to homeowners from walk-in tubs to built in shower seats.  My preference for safety and efficiency is the installation of a walk-in shower with a built-in bench.  This however will not satisfy homeowners looking to take a bath.  If an actual tub is desired a walk-in tub can be installed.  Along with these modifications it is important to add grab bars and a raised toilet to just add to ease of use with-in the space.

Learn more about licensed and insured general contractor Glen Miller the Home Doctor and the variety of home improvement services he offers clients including: home maintenance plans, handyman services, kitchen remodels, bathroom renovations, handicap ramp installations, age in place modifications, basements transformations, and hardwood flooring installation and refinishing at  To contact Glen Miller the Home Doctor call 734.255.9793 for a free estimate.

This Cheap, Easy Home Improvement Project Gives You the Absolute Best Value for Your Money

Cavan Images

Kitchen, bathroom and living room renovations might be the most popular among U.S. homeowners—but they aren’t the most valuable. That designation goes to a project that’s a bit less sexy and much more subtle: the garage door. Replacing an old, outdated garage door with a new one can almost entirely pay for itself when it comes time to sell, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2018 Cost vs. Value report.

While you may not think of the garage door as an object of beauty, replacing an old, battered door with a smart new one can make all the difference when it comes to curb appeal. A new door can give the front of your house a fresh, clean appearance, says Buffalo-based appraiser Jim Murrett—even if would-be buyers can’t put their finger on the reason why. There are other benefits too, like improved insulation, which could significantly lower your energy bills (especially in colder states).

The all-in cost of replacing an antiquated garage door with an upscale steel model boosts your home’s value by 98.3% of what it costs to install. In other words, a $3,470 garage door will really set you back only $60 when you put your house on the market. “If you’re going to sell [anytime soon], this gives you almost immediate return,” says Murrett.

And perhaps the biggest reason for the garage door’s attractive payoff: It doesn’t cost much to begin with.

Of the nearly two dozen projects Remodeling ranked, replacing a garage door was one of the least expensive. And the cheapest of all the jobs Remodeling looked at—installing a new steel entry door—returned almost as much as the garage door, fetching about 91% of the average $1,170 outlay. (The report didn’t look at touch-up jobs like repainting or sodding your lawn.)

The most expensive projects, costing $100,000, such as adding bedrooms or a major kitchen renovation, typically recouped half or less of what they cost.

Original Source:

Original Author: Shaina Mishkin

Original Date: April 16 2018

Modern Bathroom Updates For Seniors

The idea behind age in place remodeling is to help baby boomers who want to retire in their own home as, to do so safely, independently, and comfortably regardless of their income or ability level. Besides living on your own home is a lot cheaper.  Seniors seem to be happy and enjoy some perks of being close to their loved ones, where they can get on with a life that is familiar to them as opposed to a nursing home or aged-care facility. There are, however, many potential risks for injury to seniors as they age lurking around their homes and making a few but vital modifications can significantly minimize such risks.

Types Of Age In Place Modifications

Examples of simple, cost-effective age in place modifications that an aging in place contractor can make include but are not limited to mounting additional railings and grab bars, installing nonskid flooring, turning a regular tub into a walk-in bathtub, installing a hand-held flexible shower head,  increasing lighting, installing accessible switches at both ends of the stairs to boost visibility, and minimize the risks of falls.  Falls happen to be the leading cause of distressing death with seniors.

Bathroom Updates For Seniors

The bathroom is one area that can greatly benefit from aging in place remodeling because lack of support in the shower or bathroom certainly increases the risks of accidental fall. The bathroom is a constantly wet area and one of the best ways to improve this situation is to install a shower without a threshold so that somebody in a wheelchair or walking aid can move in and out freely even without help.

Choosing a flooring material for the entire bathroom floor is equally important.  It entails picking a material that is slip resistant, one with an anti-slippery coating that doesn’t move out of place, one that is easy to move over with a cane, walker, or wheelchair without slipping, it should also be one that doesn’t require too much cleaning and maintenance. Bathroom flooring materials such as stone, ceramic or porcelain should be avoided because not only are they hard and unyielding,  they also require regular maintenance, they are cold to the feet, and above all, tiles with wide grout joints or uneven surfaces can be a trip hazard for seniors.

Changes To Your Lighting

Bathroom lighting for age in place remodeling is very important because too much lighting or lack thereof poses a risk of tripping. Puck lights are modern and versatile lighting solutions that an aging in place contractor can install inside cabinets or as under cabinet task lighting. Light fixtures with a built-in occupancy sensor are ideal for aging in place bathrooms and if possible for the entire home. Important also is to choose faucets that are easy to open with little effort as well as adding non-slip railing along the walls for additional support and bring all cabinets to a comfortable height that a senior can reach upwards, but not too low as you don’t want seniors to have to bend over too much.

Learn more about licensed and insured general contractor Glen Miller the Home Doctor and the variety of home improvement services he offers clients including: home maintenance plans, handyman services, kitchen remodels, bathroom renovations, handicap ramp installations, age in place modifications, basements transformations, and hardwood flooring installation and refinishing at  To contact Glen Miller the Home Doctor call 734.255.9793 for a free estimate.

Local Trends in Bathroom Renovations For 2018

Now that it is a new year it is time to get started on those bathroom renovations you have been considering. Start by hiring a remodeling contractor, as they’ll be able to assist you through every step of the process. Otherwise, your bathroom renovations will likely remain a fantasy.

There are many different looks and styles for bathrooms. If you examine some of the local trends in bathroom renovations for 2018, it will help to narrow down your options.

Freestanding Bathtubs

This was a common feature of Victorian homes, but is making a comeback.  Don’t expect tacky or cumbersome stylings, the new freestanding bathtubs are both modern and compact for the 2018 bathroom. A wide range of faucets can be installed too. Choices go beyond your standard chrome and stainless steel to rose gold and dark brass. Homeowners with free standing tubs in their bathroom designs are considering the addition of a rain shower head so they can still take a shower in the immense bathtub.

Granite or Quartz Countertops

Many people choose to match bathroom countertop with kitchen countertop. It doesn’t have to be the exact same color; you can opt for a similar veined pattern for a cohesive look. These types of countertops are considered permanent and are the perfect choice for a bathroom that can suffer moisture or water damage. Now you’ll never have to worry again. Bathroom countertops can also wrapped behind the toilet, giving you more space for cosmetics or decorative objects.

LED Mirrored Lights

Not only are LED lamps low in energy consumption, but they can be extremely bright so you can put on your makeup or do your hair easily. If you’re worried they’re too bright, consider adding a dimmer switch in your bathroom. In the morning you can have a minimum of light while you wake up, then when it’s time to carefully apply your makeup you can increase the lighting levels.

Vessel or Bowl Sinks

Bathroom sinks no longer have to be boring white porcelain or ceramic models. The new style of vessel or bowl sinks not only gives your bathroom a touch of style, but also functionality too. The sinks can be as small or as large as you like. Its original function is realized for people who like to put the stopper in and splash around to wash. A wide variety of faucets can be added too. These need not be boring either. Faucets come in every color of the rainbow, and can be one or two handled.

Hardwood or Wood Laminate Flooring

In the past, wood or laminate floors were frowned upon, as the moisture and water from the tub could quickly erode away at surfaces. Today’s engineered flooring panels have protective layers that are suitable for the bathroom. They come in every color of wood you can imagine.

There are many local trends in bathroom renovations for 2018. Your remodeling contractor will be able to assist you with the above choices and more. Soon you’ll have a beautiful but highly functional bathroom that you can enjoy several times a day!

Learn more about licensed and insured general contractor Glen Miller the Home Doctor and the variety of home improvement services he offers clients including: home maintenance plans, handyman services, kitchen remodels, bathroom renovations, handicap ramp installations, age in place modifications, basements transformations, and hardwood flooring installation and refinishing at  To contact Glen Miller the Home Doctor call 734.255.9793 for a free estimate.


5 Steps for a Home Remodel

Photo Courtesy of National Association of the Remodeling Industry
Family Features

MISSION, Kan., Jan. 02, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — (Family Features) As a homeowner, there is nearly always a laundry list of projects with time and budget constraints when it comes to a home remodel.

This step-by-step guide from the experts at the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) can help ensure you get the maximum return on your investment and make the most of your remodel.

Step 1 – Identify Reasons for Remodeling
Deciding whether to undertake simple aesthetic changes or a full remodel can be difficult. One of the best ways to decide is to figure out why you are remodeling in the first place, whether it’s to make your new house feel more like home or to update a 1950s-era kitchen.

Step 2 – Set Your Budget
Every home is unique in structure, age, quality and craftsmanship, which all impact the price of a remodel. Since no one can see through walls before demolition, the quote you receive will likely not be 100 percent accurate. However, a qualified remodeling company will be open and honest about the issues and challenges it might face during the process. Account for these adjustments by planning for any “surprises” with a 10 percent cushion, just in case.

Step 3 – Hire the Right Team
To help ensure you find the right company for the job, you should do your research. Referrals from friends and family are one way to find a remodeler. National associations like NARI provide unbiased information and resources that can help you find qualified, certified remodelers in your area. With more than 6,000 members, the organization represents professional remodelers who adhere to a strict code of ethics. Many hold certifications in remodeling, kitchen and bath design and lead carpentry. Find more information and resources at

Step 4 – Understand the Plan 
Communication is key in a successful remodeling project. Keep the lines of communication open between you, the remodeling contractor and the work crew. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Let them know your family’s schedule and whether you have pets confined somewhere. Make sure to specify the best way to reach you, such as phone, in-person or e-mail, and how often you wish to communicate with your remodeling contractor about your project.

Step 5 – Complete the Project
While the dust is settling and the remodel is almost finished, take a moment to walk through your project and note any adjustments that need to be made while the contractor is still on site. Contractors often provide guarantees of workmanship, so find out what they cover and for how long then include this information in your work agreement. You should also take another look at the contract and confirm you have signed permits, receipts, change orders, lien waivers, warranties and manufacturers’ guides at your disposal.

Remodeling a space can be a major project, but with the right help, resources and information, you can make your dream home come to fruition.


Original Source:


| Source: Family Features

4 Types Of Home Renovation: Which Ones Boost Value?

“Fix it and flip it” is a phrase often associated with real estate. With this in mind, many homeowners undertake major renovation to their residences before putting them up for sale: Sprucing up the place will always send the sales price soaring, right? Wrong. More often than not, these upgrades fail to pay for themselves. Read on to find out how to renovate strategically and which sort of projects really add value to your property.

The Difference between Investors and Owners

Updating an investment property is generally a sound strategy – if it’s done the right way. Successful advocates of the fix-it-and-flip-it philosophy are investors, with the investor’s mantra of “buy low, sell high.” So they purchase run-down homes at bargain prices and save money on the repairs by doing most of the work themselves. A little sweat equity goes a long way toward making a real estate investment profitable. They carefully choose their remodeling projects,too, focusing on those that will result in the most value for the least amount of effort and cost. Part of the process includes paying attention to the other homes in the neighborhood to avoid over-improving the property. If none of the other houses in the area have crown moldings and Corian counter tops, adding these amenities is unlikely to result in a significantly higher selling price.

Owners, on the other hand, often take a less strategic approach when sprucing up their homes. As a result, they can end up putting significantly more money into the project than they will get back out of it when they sell. While it’s certainly a smart move to make a few improvements, don’t overdo it.

So how do you know which upgrades are worth the hassle and which ones aren’t? To make the most of your remodeling, it pays to keep four types of projects in mind : basics, curb appeal, value added and personal preference.

The Basics

The basic are the things that buyers expect when they purchase a home. This includes a roof that doesn’t leak, functioning gutters and downspouts, a dry basement, a reliable furnace, solid floors, walls that are in good repair, retaining walls that work; most potential buyers also expect your home to have functioning plumbing and HVAC systems. In upscale properties, the basics might also include a certain number of bedrooms, bathrooms and garages, and any other amenities that are common to the neighborhood.

This doesn’t mean you have to upgrade all of it. Rather you can focus on regular maintenance and smaller, cheaper improvements that keep everything in good working order.

Adding these items to a home that lacks them doesn’t add value, exactly; it merely brings the property up to the standard level of the rest of the homes in the ‘hood, ensuring that you can ask a comparable price.

On the other hand, while you want your house to stand out from the competition, you shouldn’t make unwarranted upgrades that greatly exceed other properties in the area. Not only will you end up losing money, but you may even scare off potential buyers. (For more insight, see Home Upgrades That Don’t Pay.) In short, before you invest tons of money in an elaborate full-house renovation project, consider what the competing properties in your neighborhood have to offer. Find out how similarly priced homes in your neighborhood measure up, and make improvements based on your specific marketplace.

Curb Appeal

Items that add curb appeal help the property to look good when prospective buyers arrive. While these projects may not add a considerable amount of monetary value, they will help the place sell faster. Curb appeal items include a well-manicured lawn, low-cost landscaping, fresh paint inside and out (at least, the front door), cleaned carpets and new fixtures (even redoing the address numbers). You can DIY these projects to save money and time.

Err on the side of plain vanilla, though: Now is not the time to incorporate bold design choices into the décor. Subtle accent walls and tasteful backsplashes are simple design features that will add to your home’s appeal. Lighting is also another element that can break the bank. While you want the house to look bright and inviting, you don’t want to overdo it or overrun your home circuitry. Instead, consider installing recessed or LED lights for a modern-looking upgrade. If you need help with these projects, you can consult the interior decorating professionals. Just make sure you lean towards the cheaper side. For more on how curb appeal can help you sell your home faster, read Selling Your Home In A Down Market.)

Adds Value

The projects that add considerable value are big favorites of fix-it-and-flip it advocates – and they should be high on a homeowner’s list too. While most of these efforts will not recoup their costs, some will come close. The National Association of Realtors cites new siding, kitchen renovations (new countertops and state-of-the-art appliances) and new windows as some of the most beneficial projects, often recouping 80% or more of their costs during resale. Upgraded bathrooms, refurbished decks and energy-saving improvements offer a lot of bang for the buck too. For a more detailed list, see Top 5 Home Renovations for Your Money in 2017.

Personal Preference

Personal preference projects are nifty items that you want but that other people may not like or be willing to pay to get. In most areas of the country, these include amenities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, hot tubs, wine cellars, basement game rooms and ponds. Believe it or not, a swimming pool rarely adds value to a home in this day and age. First of all, it usually costs a small fortune to have an in-ground pool installed. Secondly, many homebuyers view a pool as a high-maintenance hassle and safety hazard – and for something that’s useable only a few months out of the year (unless you live in a tropical climate, of course).

There’s certainly no harm in adding these items to your house, but don’t expect potential buyers to be willing to pay a premium to get them when you are ready to sell. And be wary if the renovation means replacing a popular or commonplace feature. If every other home in your neighborhood boasts a two-car garage, you should probably think twice about converting yours into a game room. Do you really want to be the only house in the area with no protected place to park?

Other tricky conversions include:

  • Transforming a bedroom into a studio.
  • Removing walls to enlarge a space (unless it’s a really practical move, like creating flow between the dining room and kitchen).
  • Eliminating a bedroom to extend a room.
  • Remodeling the basement (smaller improvements, like upgraded storage capacity, will recoup far more than a full renovation or custom upgrade).

The Bottom Line

Regardless of the project that you are considering, remember that your primary residence is not just a house, it’s your home. If you plan to live there for many years to come, add amenities that you want to have regardless of their impact on resale. When it’s time to sell, do the basics to get the property up to par for the neighborhood and add some curb appeal, but don’t bother undertaking an extensive array of projects strictly in an effort to increase the purchase price of the property: These custom upgrades may appeal more to you than to potential buyers. It’s best to keep renovations small, neutral in looks and centered around improving the functionality of your home. And remember, even with the redos that are known to add value, the chances are good that you will spend far more money than you will get back in return.

Original Source:

Original Date: December 14 2017

Original Author: Lisa Smith

Custom Handicap and Age in Place Remodeling Solutions

The benefits of age in place remodeling are insurmountable.  There are countless remodeling solutions that enable those who want to retire and live in their own homes with freedom, dignity, and pride. Age in place remodeling solutions are designed using handicap construction techniques in mind.  This helps to remove unnecessary hazardous clutter and to allow easy mobility especially when a wheelchair or walker accessibility is required.

Bathroom and Kitchen Accessibility

The most important rooms for any age in place remodeling and handicap construction are the bathroom and the kitchen. The idea is to use principles of universal design.  This is essentially all about making a space useful to people with diverse abilities with appropriate size and space provided for approach, adequate reach and use regardless of individual body size, posture, or mobility.

For example, an outdoor ramp, often referred to as a handicap ramp, with a comfortable incline integrated into the exterior of a home is one essential age in place remodeling solution that will allow easy and safe accessibility for a person in a wheelchair, a cane or a walker. One full bathroom, kitchen, and common room areas should be located on the main level of the home. Planning ahead to accommodate assistive devices is a good idea in order to make it easy for someone in a wheelchair to make their way around the toilet, bathtub, or shower, as well as easy-to-reach cabinets and drawers.

Options For Age In Place Remodels

Two of the most common options for achieving the comfort and safety of an age in place commode is to install a seat extender or replace the old toilet with one that is the proper and recommended height. The toilet paper holder should also be designed for one-handed changing and must be in a position where it is not only easy to reach from a sitting position but is also sturdy enough to hold an individual’s weight.

Textured grab bars along the bathroom, around tubs, hallways, bedroom, and in areas where assisted seating and standing are required can make all the difference they also must be strong enough to support about 300 plus pounds.

When it comes to the age in place kitchen solutions, having the height of the dishwasher raised can reduce the strain of loading and unloading. Motorized, adjustable height counters, pullout or pull-down cabinets, roller sinks makes the whole kitchen more accessible by someone who is wheelchair bound or handicap. Bookcases on hallways, wiring on the floor, floor rugs are examples of things that pose various trip hazards and must be removed in both a handicap and aged in place remodeling solutions.

Here are additional age in place remodeling solutions:

  • Widen doorway and halls to a width of between twenty five and twenty seven inches wide to accommodate various assistive devices.
  • Install consistent lighting that is easy to locate. Use shades to prevent unnecessary glare.
  • Eliminate transitions between flooring materials of various heights. Remove scatter rugs from all locations within the home.


Learn more about licensed and insured general contractor Glen Miller the Home Doctor and the variety of home improvement services he offers clients including: home maintenance plans, handyman services, kitchen remodels, bathroom renovations, handicap ramp installations, age in place modifications, basements transformations, and hardwood flooring installation and refinishing at  To contact Glen Miller the Home Doctor call 734.255.9793 for a free estimate.

Instead of downsizing, these retirees are ‘aging in place’ by remodeling their home

DULUTH, Minn. – When Bob and Carole Lent built their small home on Park Point in 1975, they were in their 20s.

“We didn’t think about stairs being a problem,” said Bob, now 68, as the couple sat at the dining room in what they sometimes call their “new home” one day last week. “So we built a vertical house.”

By 2014, the Lents, retired from their jobs for the Duluth public schools, were thinking differently. Although both were mobile and in good health, it was becoming difficult for some family members and friends to navigate the stairway from their entry to the main floor living space. Moreover, they wanted to remain in the property they loved long into the future.

Carole, 67, the photographer behind many of the “Shipping Traffic” photos that appear on Page A2 of the News Tribune, shared a book of photos she has taken through the house’s picture window, which looks toward Lake Superior. “That’s why we like it here,” she said.

When they started, the Lents hadn’t heard the term “aging in place,” Bob said. But as baby boomers reach retirement age and beyond, more are looking for ways they can adapt to future limitations without having to downsize into an apartment or townhome. The idea generally is referred to as aging in place.

“For almost everybody, that would be their first choice,” said Jane Hampton, referring to remaining in one’s original home. “What we’re looking at is the numbers of people going in that direction.”

Bob Lent operates a light in the living room of the home remotely with an app on his mobile phone. Bob King / FNS

Bob Lent operates a light in the living room of the home remotely with an app on his mobile phone. Bob King / FNS

Planning accessibility

Hampton is part of an industry that has arisen to help homeowners plan to remain in their homes as they age, having founded her company, Brainerd-based Accessibility Design, in 1992.

The company, which works throughout the state, employs designers and “access specialists” such as Janalee Reineke Lyth, an occupational therapist in Duluth, to help homeowners determine what remodeling is needed and how to accomplish that.

“We get involved in a project when people know something is not working in their house, but they don’t really know what to do about it,” Hampton said.

Accessibility Design works with contractors who carry out the projects once they’re designed. Among them is Litman Construction of Duluth. Sam Litman, who took over the business from his father, said he encourages clients to think about the future whenever they contemplate remodeling.

“A lot of people are afraid to pull that tub out and put the shower in because at this point they don’t need to,” Litman said. “But I try to do my due diligence by saying, ‘Hey look, do you plan to stay here? Do you plan for this to be your forever home until someone carts you off?’ ”

Among other fixes that may be needed, according to Litman:

• A roll-in shower, “or at least a low-threshold shower.”

• Enlarging doorways and hallways to make sure there’s sufficient turning area for a wheelchair — typically a 5-foot-by-5-foot area, Litman said.

• Toilets that are higher than the conventional size, allowing an easier transition for someone who is in a wheelchair.

• Ramps, stairlifts or an elevator to allow someone using a wheelchair to get up and down.

• Grab bars — which no longer have to have an “industrialized” look — levers on doorways as opposed to knobs, single-handle faucets, easily graspable pulls on drawers.

Litman is just 35, but he already has practiced what he preaches.

“I built a home for myself in 2009,” he said. “And when I did so I had in my mind that if this wasn’t my forever home, what would others want? So I made every doorway, where possible, at least 32 inches wide. All the entry doors are 36 inches wide.”

The Lents

The front door of the Lents’ home is 36 inches wide, expanded from 32, with ample room outside and inside in which to turn a wheelchair. There’s a bathroom off of the entry, and a hallway leading to a bedroom envisioned, perhaps, as one day being occupied by a caregiver. The laundry room is off the hallway. A stairway leads up to the main floor, but a door between the bathroom and the bedroom leads to an elevator.

Bob King / Forum News Service

Bob King / Forum News Service

Except for the laundry room, all of that is new, added when the couple renovated their home between October of 2014 and May of 2015.

“We saw our friends and family not being able to navigate the stairs as well,” Bob said. “My thinking was, ‘How can I make this house more accessible?’ ”

His original plan was to bring a driveway up to the main floor and install a carport there, thus providing easy access to their essential living spaces: bedroom, kitchen, bathroom.

But when he consulted with Heather Hiner of Hiner Home Designs, she suggested the earthmoving and landscaping cost for their idea would be so significant that the Lents could put in in elevator for not much more. She drew up plans requiring an addition totaling 12 feet to one side of the house. It would cut into the side yard, from their perspective, but into the front yard, from the city’s. And it would violate the 25-foot front-yard setback requirement by 6 feet.

Bob Lent describes why the city wouldn't let him build the addition to his house out a few more feet. Bob King / FNS

Bob Lent describes why the city wouldn’t let him build the addition to his house out a few more feet. Bob King / FNS

‘Practical difficulty’

The Lents sought a variance from the city planning commission but were turned down — a decision that still rankles. The street in front of their home is a little-used stretch of gravel, they note, and their proposed addition wouldn’t have set them any closer to the street than houses on either side. Moreover, they’d gone to their neighbors, none of whom had any objections to their plan.

They were told they didn’t face “practical difficulty” because they weren’t handicapped, Carole explained.

“We would like people to be able to plan for the future without having to demonstrate a need for handicapped accessibility at that moment,” she said. “If you wait until you need it, it’s too late.”

Hiner reworked the plans so only a 6-foot addition was required, but it meant essentially gutting the rest of the house, the Lents said. They declined to say how much they spent on the project, but did say the required revision doubled the cost.

Remodeling costs vary widely, Litman said.

An elevator can cost as much as $20,000 for a lift with sides to $30,000 for a full-scale elevator, he said, and that doesn’t include work on the site to accommodate the elevator. Remodeling a bathroom typically ranges from $12,000 to $25,000 depending on what needs to be done, he said.

“It’s not cheap,” Litman said, speaking of remodeling as a whole. “Even materials. I’ve watched materials go up 30, 40 percent in 14 years.”

A ‘new home’

In the process of remodeling, the Lents gave their home a new look, replacing the original cedar siding with maintenance-free LP siding made in Two Harbors. The changes were so thorough it’s not surprising the Lents refer to their “old home” and their “new home,” although it’s really the same structure.

They paid attention to details, such as ensuring there would be adequate room to turn a wheelchair in the bedroom and hallways and to accommodate a wheelchair user in the shower. They were careful, Bob said, to not make it “look” like an accessible home. A grab bar next to a toilet is “disguised” as a toilet paper holder, and one in the shower also serves as a shampoo and soap caddy.

It all required a major investment in money and time and some bureaucratic hassles, and resulted in wholesale changes. But there’s a bottom line, Bob said: “Anybody who comes to the house can access our living space. And that wasn’t true (before).”

The situation the Lents faced is common in Duluth, said Hampton, whose company is involved in about 170 projects a year statewide.

“Up there in Duluth where you’re built on a mountain?” she said, engaging in a bit of hyperbole. “Well, we’ve had some challenges. Not only is it a mountain, but it’s a mountain of granite … And the homes you guys have up in Duluth are very vertical.”

Both Hampton and Litman said in some cases, relocating can be the best option.

The Lents noted the irony of the fact that as some friends and family looked at downsizing, they expanded their home, which originally was about a thousand square feet. But they never considered anything else.

“We don’t want to leave Park Point,” Bob said. “We don’t want to leave the lake. We love it down here.”

Where to get help

Your home needs changes so you or a family member can continue to live in it, but you can’t afford to do it on your own.

What then?

There may be help, according to Stephanie Lundgren, St. Louis County Aging and Adult Disabilities supervisor, although many variables come into play.

If you live in St. Louis County, you can set up what’s known as an MnCHOICES Assessment by calling the county’s intake team at (218) 726-2366. The county has a team of social workers and public health nurses to complete an assessment, which is free. They work closely with the financial team to determine what sort of financial assistance you might be eligible for.

For those 65 and older, the primary sources of financial help are Elderly Waiver, which is a federal Medicaid waiver program; and Alternative Care, a state-funded program that supports limited home and community-based services. If you’re eligible, case managers will work with you to review your options, coordinate services and stay within a budget, according to Lundgren.

If you’re not eligible for either program, the case managers also are well-versed in other possible sources.

Minnesotans outside of St. Louis County can ask for a MnCHOICES assessment by contacting the Senior LinkAge Line at (800) 333-2433, the Disability Line at (866) 333-2466 or the county or tribe where you live.

Original Source:

Original Author: John Lundy

Original Date: Oct 24 2017


Benefits of Age in Place Remodeling

Age in place remodeling is something everyone should consider. The term has many misconceptions about growing old. However, a good age in place contractor will help to create a space that you will always feel comfortable in. Rather than a home looking old, it continues to show your personality and offers the style you desire.

Here’s a look at the four benefits of age in place remodeling:

Your Home Becomes Your Forever Home

It’s common to look at a home as a stop-gap for the time being. Eventually you want to upsize to grow your family or you want something different in terms of living space, kitchen, or bathroom. You may even need to look at installing handicap ramps into your home.

Age in place remodeling makes it so your home is your forever home. It is designed for all your needs now and into the future. A good age in place contractor will help you consider the possibilities in the future of needing ramps and support while considering your current needs, ensuring that your space will always offer exactly what you need.

You Are Ready If Something Happens

You just don’t know exactly what the future holds. While you may feel in full physical health now, an accident can happen tomorrow or you may have an underlying health problem with no symptoms. This time next year, you may find you need to completely remodel your home just to be able to live comfortably.

Thinking about age in place remodeling will give you the chance to plan ahead. You look at the chances of an accident and look at the parts of your home that could become inaccessible. If something does happen, you can quickly add in the new needed items, rather than wait weeks to get a contractor in and then months for the total remodel to take place. You have peace of mind and security.

Make Your Home Comfortable

Harsh lighting can cause headaches, while a cluttered kitchen can make it difficult to work around. When you opt for age in place remodeling, you have the ability to create a comfortable home. Each room will have the specific purpose you need and you can choose lighting specifically to soften and create relaxing areas.

The bathroom gets the tub and suite that you’ve always dreamed of having, while the hallways can be lined with the right shelving to make storage easier. Getting rid of the clutter and creating a space you’re happy with will make you happier when you are at home.

Your Home Requires Less Maintenance

While you may enjoy a little gardening, you don’t necessarily want the whole garden and lawn to be covered in grass. An age in place contractor will look at the garden and help create one that requires less maintenance. You don’t have to worry about watering or mowing the lawn every week or so. There’s no need to worry about that will do it when you’re physically unable to.

That doesn’t mean all your flower beds will be removed. The contracts will consider ways to make it easier to get to your plants. You may have raised flower beds installed or handicap ramps around your lawn to make sure you can still get across the grass to your plants should something happen.

Consider age in place remodeling for your home. Thinking about it now will help you have peace of mind for the future so you can get your forever home.

Learn more about licensed and insured general contractor Glen Miller the Home Doctor and the variety of home improvement services he offers clients including: home maintenance plans, handyman services, kitchen remodels, bathroom renovations, handicap ramp installations, age in place modifications, basements transformations, and hardwood flooring installation and refinishing at  To contact Glen Miller the Home Doctor call 734.255.9793 for a free estimate.

New Looks for an Old Home

There are many ways which can be used in order to improve the old looks of homes. With the help of remodeling and home renovations any type of home can get a new look. Many things are located inside a home. These can be changed to get a new look. Placement of things in a home can be changed in order to have a new look. Repairs in homes can be done to remove the defects and get new feelings.

  • If you have a home with paint on walls then you can use tiles on walls in order to have new looks.
  • There are many types of tiles in the market which can be used for homes.
  • You can have tiles of different colors for different rooms.
  • There are special tiles which are made for bathrooms and different tiles are to be used for other rooms.
  • You can have curtains in your home with new styles.

Many types of curtains are available in the market which can be installed in homes for getting new looks. You can have curtains of different designs in different rooms to have unique looks. Furniture is another main thing which can be used for changing styles and looks of homes. You can change furniture in your home or change the arrangement of furniture in your rooms.

This will give a new feeling in your home and your decoration will be changed. Many people are using remodeling and home renovations in order to get new feelings from time to time. You can change the covers of your beds and seats to have a new look. You can buy some new things to be used in your home and sell out some old things. You can make a budget to make sure that you are spending in limits while remodeling.

  • Many people like to introduce some changes after some time in their homes to have new feelings.
  • It is good to use some changes in old homes or getting new looks.
  • Homes have many things which can be changed after some time in order to have new looks.
  • If you are willing to have some new feeling and decoration then you can change the arrangement of things in your home.

This will require some efforts on your part but you are not needed to invest money in this process. You are just needed to change the location of things in your home and you are done. You can change the location of tables and chairs from one room to another and change the location of your bed and cupboard in rooms to have a new look. These and many other options are available in changing the styles and looks of things in homes. If you want to introduce some new things then you have to invest some money.

You can but new chairs and tables for your home and install them in required rooms to have new feelings and looks. With some remodeling and home renovations you are able to change the looks and feels of your home and have good results in a short time period.

Learn more about licensed and insured general contractor Glen Miller the Home Doctor and the variety of home improvement services he offers clients including: home maintenance plans, handyman services, kitchen remodels, bathroom renovations, handicap ramp installations, age in place modifications, basements transformations, and hardwood flooring installation and refinishing at  To contact Glen Miller the Home Doctor call 734.255.9793 for a free estimate.