Selecting a Contractor for Home Modifications — Part 3 — Tailoring the Job to Your Needs

UDS Home ModificationsFind a contractor who’s willing to listen and provide a home modification tailored to your specific needs. Home accessibility is a specialized niche within the design and construction fields and while many reputable and skilled contractors are now entering the growing ‘aging in place’ market, they may not understand your physical and functional needs as well as they understand construction. It is vital that you educate them on your needs and play an active role in the design process.

Consider visiting the National Association of Home Builders at nahb.org and searching their CAPS Directory to find a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist in your area who is familiar with performing accessibility design or construction work, as well as being evaluated by an Occupational or Physical Therapist who can provide a report on functional considerations that must be taken into account when creating design solutions, such as an individual’s safest method of transfer. Oftentimes, combining the design and construction expertise of an experienced contractor with the disability-specific knowledge of a trusted medical professional can yield better individualized solutions.

And, don’t forget to reach out to the Accessibility Specialists at UDS Accessible Home Modifications for expert tips and guidance! UDS has been working directly with people with disabilities to support their independence since 1965 and we are happy to put our experience to work for you, from initial product selection though construction troubleshooting. Just contact us at 888-428-0240 or estore@udservices.org to let us know how we can best serve you.

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Selecting a Contractor for Home Modifications – Part 2 – Seeking Competitive Bids

Just because someone can remodel a home doesn’t mean they can run a business. Attractive pictures of previously completed projects are great, but it’s also important to look into the stability and longevity of a contractor’s business. Find out how long the contractor has been in business and make sure they offer a physical business address. For smaller contractors, it is not unusual for this to be their home address, but steer clear of contractors only willing to offer a phone number or PO Box mailing address.UDS Competitive Bids

Also, be wary of working with contractors who show early signs of being unprofessional, such as being late for appointments or pressuring you to sign a contract immediately or pay more than a 33% deposit upfront. (If a contractor doesn’t treat his prospective customers well while competing for their business, it is unlikely he will treat them better once he has been paid!) It can also be helpful to ask how many projects the contractor typically has in active construction at once. A contractor who is stretched too thin may have difficulty adhering to agreed upon timelines for completion or making sure your project gets the attention it deserves.

Cast a wide net. Seek a minimum of three competing bids and compare them, line by line. Notice that one includes a charge for a particular material or service, but another does not? Ask for clarification on why. It’s important to make sure that at the end of your bidding process, you feel confident in the investment you are making in your home and go with the best value, not just the lowest price.

Know what you’re getting and make sure it’s in writing. Get a detailed scope of work and, if it contains anything that seems unclear to you, get clarification. Once you are comfortable with the scope of work, make sure you also thoroughly read the construction contract before signing. A standard construction contract should clearly spell out:

  • Responsibilities of both the contractor and the homeowner. (Typically, the contractor will be required to provide materials, tools, labor and expertise, while the homeowner must provide payment and access to the home and its utilities, like electricity or water).
  • Payment terms.
  • A timeline for completion.
  • Local authorization. (In other words, it should specify that your contractor is responsible for securing the necessary building permits from local authorities and that this is included in the price of the project).
  • Detail on costs of labor and materials, as well as subcontractors to be used, if applicable.
  • Insurance and licensure requirements of the contractor.
  • A termination clause that states the circumstances under which either the homeowner or contractor can terminate the contract without financial penalty.

Additionally, it is in the best interest of the homeowner to discuss adding additional protections to the contract, like penalties if the contractor does not adhere to the timeline for completion or a lien release, so the homeowner will not be liable in the event the contractor fails to pay any subcontractors involved with the project. Make sure not to agree to payment terms that ask for more than a 33% deposit or do not allow the homeowner to withhold some of the payment until completion. And, when in doubt, have your legal representation review any contract before signing.

Next week: Part 3 – Tailoring the Job to Your Needs

Visit our eStore which has been moved to a new eCommerce platform, designed to make your experience more efficient and productive, along with a simplified ordering process.

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Selecting a Contractor for Home Modifications

Selecting a Contractor Part 1Looking for a professional to perform your accessibility modification? If you’re like many people, your home is your greatest asset and it’s important to have confidence in who you hire to perform work in it. Consider these points when selecting a contractor:

Ask around.  Instead of going straight to the Yellow Pages, check with your friends, neighbors and family members for their recommendations. Or, head online to read reviews of licensed contractors and find out who has a positive reputation in your community. Use these contractors as a starting point and ask them to provide several references for you to contact. Ideally, these references should be individuals who have had work done by the contractor that is similar in scope to your future project.

Are they licensed, bonded and insured?  Licensing regulations and requirements for contractors vary by state or locale, so research the laws in your area. Ask prospective contractors for their license numbers, then contact the agency overseeing licensing in your locale to verify their licenses are current and learn if complaints have been filed against them or they are facing any disciplinary action.  Depending upon where you live, there may be a toll-free number or online database available to assist with this step.

 Some states also require contractors to be “bonded,” meaning the contractor must purchase a surety bond to protect customers in the event the contractor does not meet financial obligations associated with a project, like paying subcontractors the amount they are due for their work or securing permits, or if they simply fail to complete the project properly.  To protect yourself, learn the requirements where you live and make sure your contractor meets them.  Additionally, request documentation on your contractor’s Workman’s Compensation and General Liability insurance and verify the policies are current.

Visit our eStore to shop the products available for home modifications.

Next time:  Part 2 – Seeking competitive bids…

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UDS eStore Changes

UDS New eStore PlatformWe’ve recently moved our eStore to a new eCommerce platform that will make your experience on the eStore more efficient and productive. You will be able to place orders much easier and, when you have registered for an account, you’ll be able to see your orders and also place reorders right from your account.

The ordering process has been simplified and you will see where you are each step of the way. In addition, estimating your shipping costs is earlier in the process so you’ll be able to know your estimated shipping costs before you get too far into the buying process.

You’ll find the forms for our catalog, signing up for the Newsletter, downloading our White Paper, and registering for a Contractor’s Account very simple and user friendly.

Explore the new eStore at the same URL:  estore.udservices.org!

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Why An Accessible Bathroom, Part II

At UDS, there are a wide variety of products to help you with making your bathroom customizable. If your bathroom modification is as simple as the strategic placement of grab bars, UDS can help you find the perfect match.  UDS offers the standard wall mounted grab bars and swing up grab bars for your home modifications. Additionally, UDS offers shower modifications for your bathroom. Both barrier free showers and walk-in showers offer customers with the complete home modification necessary to create a safe living space. Finally, UDS supplies shower seats for use in your barrier free and walk-in showers. These seats come in a variety of wall mounted styles, ranging from the standard series to premium series shower seats.Accessible Bathrooms Part II

The possibilities are endless for your next bathroom modification. It’s important to remember that you do not have to forgo style and comfort when modifying your bathroom. UDS provides superior customer service, including free equipment needs assessment, education and assistance for you and your physicians and therapists, help with insurance issues, as well as information about financial assistance. Visit our eStore today to learn more about in-home modification options!

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Why An Accessible Bathroom? Part 1

Why An Accessible BathroomNo matter the disability, the bathroom can be seen as one of the most challenging rooms to maneuver in the home. Having independence in the bathroom can be very challenging when considering accessibility and safety. While it can prove to be difficult, achieving safety and independence with bathroom modifications is not only possible, it is also customizable, attractive, and safe!

Modifying a bathroom can be seen as a very personal project. When modifying a bathroom, it’s imperative that the alterations meet the needs of the physical limitations that people are living with. These alterations lead to a customized bathroom space, and each person living with a disability has a different set of needs and preferences.

An accessible bathroom does not have to mean stark and institutional. It can be as beautiful and luxurious as you can imagine it to be. UDS provides beautiful tile, stylish sinks, and modern fixtures that help accommodate accessibility, independence, and safety.

Finally, a truly accessible modification to your bathroom is ultimately focused on safety. This space must be safe for you, ranging from something as simple as strategically placing a grab bar for balance, to something as complete as a full bathroom remodel.

Visit the UDS eStore today to learn more about in-home modification options!

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Smart Business: Hiring People With Disabilities

Hiring People With Disabilities 4 22 13All too frequently, individuals with disabilities are overlooked when applying for jobs. At UDS, we are driven to help those with disabilities find jobs through our employment services program. UDS Employment Services is designed to meet the needs of local employers and individuals with disabilities. Our counselors work one-on-one with individuals through all of phases of the employment process, from job assessment all the way to job maintenance. UDS Employment Services helps not only those looking for full-time positions, but those considering part-time, seasonal, temporary, and internship positions. To learn more about UDS Employment Services, take a look at the video.

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