Occupational Therapists Back to Top
Finding an occupational therapist (OT) experienced in accessibility is an important part of your home modification. Occupational therapists are experts in assessing your needs and collaborating on solutions to maximize your independence in your daily life. They are allied health professionals that work in collaboration with doctors, nurses, physical therapists and other health professionals in addressing disease- or accident-related disability. Specifically their role is to support a person’s best ability to function in their environment.
Not all occupational therapists are experienced in universal design or accessibility modifications. Frequently an individual with a disability (especially a new disability) will have an OT on their health care team. This person should be able to assess your accessibility needs, even if they cannot recommend solutions. An OT with accessibility experience who does not already know you will spend time assessing your needs prior to recommending solutions.
Having an OT involved at the start of planning can help save money and time that may be wasted on inappropriate home modifications.
To find out if you qualify for a home assessment provided by Alberta Health Services, contact the Central Referral Line for Home Care to find out if you are Home Care eligible at 403-943-1920. Alternately you can try Calgary Community Aids to Independent Living (CCAIL) for inquiries about equipment, at 403-955-6955. (Note: CCAIL does not specifically conduct home accessibility assessment). Consult the Society of Alberta Occupational Therapists to find a private practitioner in Alberta.
The Process of Working with a Contractor Back to Top
Finding a Contractor
Once you decide to make renovations to your residence, it can be helpful to consult listings and guides to find a suitable contractor and other professionals to help you make your home accessible. Here are some contractor listings and ratings guides:
- Home Stars – Provides ratings from individuals in the Calgary area on contractors located in the city and nearby. The website also provides contact information for each contractor and some samples of completed work.
- RenoMark (Calgary region) – Provides a list of RenoMark contractors in the Calgary area as well as profiles of their experiences and specialties.
- The yellow pages – Provides general information about each contractor in your area as well as their contact information.
One of the most common ways to hire a contractor in Calgary is to post a request for proposal (RFP) in the Skilled Trades section of services on Kijiji. To attract the most comprehensive responses from interested contractors, include project details (e.g. schedule, design drawings, photos of existing space, and a description of project space and scope). Trades interested and available to perform the work will reply. Once you have a pool of interested contractors, you can proceed with the steps below.
Choosing a Contractor
The City of Calgary has developed a number of excellent tools for renters and homeowners to use while hiring contractors, to ensure you are properly equipped when choosing a contractor (including tools like “5 Steps to Choosing a Contractor”). When choosing a contractor, it is important to be cautious, do your homework, and have a high level of trust with the professional you’re working with.
It is vital that your contractor is insured. Contractors may provide you with a certificate of insurance, or may tell you who their insurer is so you can then call and confirm. Contractor insurance is critical, because it minimizes your liability if there is an accident while work is being performed on your property.
Getting a Quote and Contract
To make an informed hiring decision as part of the construction process, it is important to obtain multiple quotes. This is both good practice and sometimes a requirement linked to funding.
A quote is a written record of a contractor’s estimate of the construction costs of a given project.
Before getting a contractor to provide a quote, it is crucial to know what you want done. To this end, it is beneficial to have qualified professionals – typically an occupational therapist and an architect or designer specializing in accessibility – visit your home and work with you to determine what modifications you need. For more than minor modifications a team assessment is recommended.
Typically, general contractors are not qualified to determine what modifications are needed. Their expertise is in completing those modifications, or in determining if the modifications are even possible from a construction standpoint. Having an occupational therapist who is experienced in accessibility assess your specific home with respect to your specific disability is a key step. You will find the most appropriate solutions if you ensure an occupational therapist and an architect or designer who specializes in accessibility collaborates with a construction professional.
Once you have done this planning, you can contact contractors and request a quote. Where possible, have drawings completed before contractors come to visit. By taking this step, quotes will be easier to compare, as they will be quoting on the exact same project scope. This is better than receiving each contractor’s untested perspectives on what needs to be done.
Quotes are free. They should be provided to you in writing and include the contractor’s business information and a detailed listing of material, product and labour specifications. You can request to have quotes itemized as you wish. For example, you may wish for labour and materials to be separated out.
Ensure the quote is agreed to in writing; it will form the basis of the contract between you and the service provider.
Managing the Renovation
Communicate regularly to ensure your expectations are met. Sometimes contractors may choose to use a different material in an effort to save time or money, thinking it is comparable; ensure any substitutions are cleared by you first.
If your home modification will occur alongside renovations not designed for accessibility, be sure to have the contractor provide separate invoices, so you can submit the accessibility related costs to funders and/or towards tax credits.
Other Professionals Back to Top
Other professionals, such as interior designers and aging-in-place specialists, are also well equipped and appropriate to help you with an accessibility renovation, particularly when they are able to contribute expertise a contractor may be missing.
- Digital Lifestyles - digital home automation customized to individual needs and abilities, with solutions linked to devices like smartphones and tablets
- Level Playing Field - an accessibility agency that consults to provide design solutions.
- Shelf Genie - designing and implementing custom, glide-out cabinetry solutions for kitchens and bathrooms
- Dayle Sheehan - interior designer specializing in barrier free and accessible design
A realtor may also be a professional who can assist you in your search - these realtors have expertise in accessibility.