Juvenile Huntington's disease, a neurodegenerative disease that causes
mobility problems, made climbing the stairs in her home more difficult every
year for young Judy Krivanek. As she grew older and the stairs grew more
daunting, her mother, Alyson, had to carry her up and down more frequently. When
Judy became a teenager, carrying her became increasingly difficult for her
Thanks to the Home Builders Foundation (HBF), Alyson no longer has any fear
about her 14-year-old daughter climbing the stairs. With the help of H & H
Builders, the HBF remodeled the Krivanek house so that Judy's bedroom and
bathroom are on the same level and are accessed by a wheelchair ramp.
|The roll-in shower in her bathroom helps Judy maintain her
John Happel of H & H Builders recognizes the need for knowledgeable people to
quickly take care of HBF's projects. He has personal experience with disabled
people, and he has received CAPS (Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist) training
from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Remodelors Council.
The NAHB Remodelors Council developed the CAPS program to provide comprehensive
information about remodeling homes for older and maturing adults. Home
modification for the aging-in place population is the fastest-growing segment of
the residential remodeling industry. Aging in place means remaining in one's
home safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age, income or ability
level. CAPS training is useful for remodeling projects involving both aging
adults and people with all kinds of disabilities.
"I have read that 40 percent of people end up disabled sometime in life, whether
it's temporary or permanent," Happel says. "We volunteer for HBF projects
because of the huge need. These families are in desperate straits and can't even
use their own home. It reminds you to appreciate what you have because you may
be there yourself some day."
The special attention to the needs of elderly and disabled people helped H & H
assess how to best adapt Judy's home. Tony Arendas, H & H's superintendent for
the project, made suggestions that Judy's mother and her husband, Michael, said
they would not have thought of on their own. Rounded corners to accommodate a
turning wheelchair, lowered light switches and a dimmer switch by her bed all
have made Judy's day-to-day life simpler.
Happel said that attention to detail and adapting a home for individual
needs should be standard procedure for any remodeling job. "We talk about these
things at all of our company meetings — the details that each house needs. But I
really love doing projects for the HBF," he says. "There is such a need for our
industry's expertise, and it is really good for your heart."
Saunders is with Land Title Guarantee Company and is the 2006 president of the
Home Builders Foundation. Email Beverly at email@example.com