Editor’s Note: Part Two of a guest post by Washington D.C.- based journalist Judi Hasson.
In my last post I talked about the experience my husband and I had renovating our bathroom to accommodate a shower that provides handicap access. You can build an accessible shower, too. It just takes time, planning and a good contractor, because this is one type of renovation that you probably don’t want to tackle on your own.
Here are some tips to help you find the right professional:
- Choose your contractor based on a good referral from somebody you trust. I advise against getting a contractor from online listings, but it’s up to you and what you feel comfortable doing.
- Look for affiliations and certifications such as the National Association of Home Builders’ Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist, which indicates that someone at the company has been trained in universal design techniques.
- Interview several contractors. Find someone who listens to your concerns and that you feel you can work with. Talk to other people who’ve hired the contractor.
- The cost of the renovation depends on many factors, such as your geographical area and the existing condition of your bathroom. Get quotes from all the contractors you interview — ours varied widely in range.
- Check the builder’s license with your state or city to ensure it is up-to-date.
- Ask the contractor for proof, not just a copy, of his insurance certificate.
- Ask for references regarding and examples of the specific type of handicap access job you want to do.
- Have the contractors secure the building permit. That makes them responsible for the work in case something goes wrong or is not up to code or inspected.
- Don’t allow your contractor to cut corners. Make sure you build a fail-safe bathroom that is both safe and accessible.
- Don’t leave product selection solely to your contractor. There are more and more handicap access items on the market all the time. You might find your contractor has overlooked a helpful detail such as a better drain cap, flat drains, wall sinks, or slanted medicine cabinets and mirrors to allow for visibility from a wheelchair.
Judi Hasson is a Washington-based journalist. Her freelance writing company is Words by Judi Hasson.
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