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June 21, 2023

How Plumbers Support Aging in Place With Barrier Free Bathroom Design

Barrier free bathrooms help support independence as seniors age in place. Here's how you play a vital role - from initial consultation to financing.

How Plumbers Support Aging in Place With Barrier Free Bathroom Design

At the end of 2022, we predicted what plumbing trends would look like in 2023. Unlike other industries, we predicted we’d see the plumbing industry grow, mainly due to the increased interest in aging in place. As we look forward to the rest of the year, let’s look at how you can grow your business and support aging in place through barrier free bathroom design.

The Growing Trend of Aging in Place

Other industries, like HVAC, have seen a decline in replacements and upgrades in 2023. Many homeowners upgraded their HVAC systems during the pandemic, so the industry demand has mainly shifted to maintenance and repairs. The plumbing industry, however, hasn’t followed the same trend.

Instead, an increased interest in aging in place has helped the renovation industry (including plumbing) thrive during economic uncertainty. About 90% of seniors plan to stay in their homes for the next five to ten years. With rising mortgage rates and a competitive housing market, it just doesn’t make sense to move — especially since nearly 1 in 5 seniors have paid off their mortgage completely. So how does this affect your plumbing business?

Seniors planning to age in place want their homes functional for their current needs. The exact layout they’ve had for 30 years may not work for them anymore. They may need a walk-in bathtub or shower with a lower edge to reduce their risk of falling. Or maybe they need to remodel their bathroom vanity to accommodate their wheelchair. There are many options out there – some they may not even know about – and this is where you come in for support.

Designing a Barrier Free Bathroom With Homeowners

The process of designing a barrier free bathroom can be stressful. Homeowners are changing the house they’ve come to know, love, and make memories in. Sure, it may “just” be a bathroom, but it could also be where their baby had their first bath. Your homeowners may need to modify their bathroom, but that doesn’t mean they want to.

As you begin planning a barrier free bathroom design, involve the homeowners throughout the entire process. If they have family or caretakers, it may be a good idea to involve them in the remodeling process as well. A lot of people can bring a lot of ideas, and if some don’t work, be sure to explain your whole reasoning. Don’t just say it won’t work; explain why it won’t, in layperson’s terms. If possible, offer an alternative suggestion for their idea. Treat this process more like a consultation than a sale; bathroom remodels aren’t one-size-fits-all. It’s best to design each bathroom to the specific homeowner’s needs. 

Aging in place bathroom design helps homeowners maintain their independence as they age. However, some may feel a lost sense of dignity as their abilities change. You can help preserve their sense of dignity by giving them power in design choices while ensuring they are realistic for their space, budget, and abilities.

Helping Your Homeowners Afford a Barrier Free Bathroom

It’s no secret that baby boomers are the wealthiest generation; they currently hold 51% of all wealth in the United States. It may feel natural to assume your baby boomer customers don’t need financing. But that’s not necessarily the case.

It’s important to remember that wealth is not distributed equally, and even if your customers have the money to pay in cash, they may not want to. These customers likely understand the time value of money. Paying all at once may require them to liquidate assets. And even if they have money in their bank account, that’s money they can invest or save for a rainy day. If they finance their remodel, they can make small payments that fit into their budget and have less of an impact on the time value of their money.

By offering financing to every customer, you allow everyone the same opportunity to weigh their options. Some may still fully pay in cash, but they won’t know financing is an option if you don’t present it. Plus, financing is a great tool to give your homeowners necessary upgrades. For instance, you can use FTL Finance’s project estimator to present monthly payment options. Add-ons that may be a few thousand dollars upfront could cost as little as a few dollars extra a month, depending on the plan.

While barrier free bathroom design helps aging homeowners preserve their independence, the scale of the project can feel stressful. Make the process easier by taking a consultative approach during your conversations and offering them payment options, like financing.

Ready to support your customers by offering financing?

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