THE NEW RETIREMENT: AGING GRACEFULLY AT HOME
How a Home Inspection Can Help Set the Stage for the Rest of Your Life
Here's a new twist to an age old question, which should come first the home inspector or the remodeling contractor? According to the National Association of Home Builder's (NAHB) 50+ Housing Council, America's 50+ population will reach 100 million by the year 2010. Of those, an expected 89 percent will choose to age in place, meaning that they prefer to continue to live at home versus relocating to a facility or family member's home.1
To prepare for this next stage in life, many homeowners will consider renovating and modifying their current homes. But before they pick up the phone to call a remodeling contractor homeowners should first consider calling a home inspector for a thorough and objective analysis of their home's major systems and components
"What homeowners don't realize is that a remodeling job, especially for people who choose to retire at home, can involve many parts of a home," said Joe Corsetto, 2006 president of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). "It's not about remodeling just the kitchen or just the living room anymore, it's about equipping your home and making it safe for life after 50 and beyond."
Considering a Remodel?
A home inspection is a critical part of the process, helping homeowners identify maintenance issues that may not have been observed in the past and develop a plan for how to approach a remodel. Organizations such as NAHB recommend that people who choose to age in place should consider the following remodels to their home:
• A master bedroom and bath on the first floor
• A low or no threshold entrance to a home with an overhang
• An open floor plan, especially in the kitchen/dining area
With a myriad of things to consider, home inspectors can help homeowners identify how one remodel can fold into another, and work with them to identify major system components needing repair or replacement. Many homeowners are looking for the guidance of a professional home inspector to help prioritize which project needs to be addressed sooner versus later.
"It's not just about focusing on one part of your house anymore, it's about how all of the components fit together to save you time, money and energy," adds Corsetto.
In order to become a full member of ASHI, an inspector must pass a written exam demonstrating their training to evaluate the systems of a home and how they work. Thus, they are among the most qualified in determining a home's overall health. To that end, ASHI Members are also encouraged to deliver what ASHI calls The ASHI Experience - a home inspection focused on customer safety and education.
"We're talking about people being comfortable and safe in their own homes," notes Corsetto. "A remodeling project is a big step for some people, financially and emotionally. Our goal is to make sure that we make this life transition as seamless as possible."
ASHI's Tips for Hiring a Home Inspector
It's important to interview inspectors before you hire them to verify their experience, especially if you're hiring them to consult on a remodel. Corsetto advises homeowners to ask the following questions before hiring an inspector:
Is the inspector a Member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)?
Working with a certified Member of ASHI is an excellent indicator of an inspector's qualifications and professionalism.
How long has the inspector been practicing the profession and how many inspections have been completed?
Full ASHI Members are required to have completed at least 250 paid professional home inspections and pass two written exams that test the inspector's knowledge of competency. ASHI Candidates with logo use (CL) have passed the same exams and have performed a minimum of 50 fee paid inspections verified by ASHI to be in substantial compliance with the Standards of Practice.
Is the inspector specifically experienced in residential inspection?
Related experience is helpful, but is no substitute for training and expertise in the unique discipline of home inspection.
Does the inspector (or his company) offer to do repairs or improvements based on the inspection?
This is against ASHI's Code of Ethics because it might cause a conflict of interest.
Does the inspector participate in continuing education programs to keep his or her expertise up to date?
ASHI membership requires yearly continuing education.
For More Information
Homebuyers who wish to know more about the American Society of Home Inspectors may contact the organization at 932 Lee Street, Suite 101, Des Plaines, IL 60016. Phone: 800-743-2744. Or visit the ASHI Web site at www.ASHI.org to locate a home inspector and for valuable consumer information regarding home inspections.
NAHB is a Washington, DC-based trade association representing more than 220,000 members involved in home building, remodeling, multifamily construction, property management, subcontracting, design, housing finance, building product manufacturing and other aspects of residential and light commercial construction.
About NAHB's 50+ Housing Council
The NAHB 50+ Housing Council is the voice of the 50+ seniors housing industry and a leading source of information and research on the active adult, independent living, service-enriched and assisted-living markets. To learn more about the council, or to locate a Certified Aging in Place Specialist visit www.NAHB.org.
1 Information is based on the AARP survey, "The State of 50+ America." Information is available at www.aarp.org/research.