Home modifications

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Home modifications are all the buzz these days. Even the wholesale giant Costco has picked up a line of walk-in bathtubs. For 15-year veteran Jim Karl, owner of All in One Accessibility in Marietta, Ga., this has meant increased competition. But Karl remains confident in the market (with baby boomers aging, it’s only going to grow, he says) and his skills (“Our pricing is almost always higher than others, but it’s only because we know what it takes to make it right,” he said).

HME News: So it sounds like the home modifications market is becoming a more and more crowded field.

Jim Karl: Yes—not only from (other providers), but also from contractors. Whenever the housing market goes down, these individuals think they can do home mods, but they can’t—not necessarily. Their thought is, “I’ll build you a shower,” but they build it with the wrong lip, or they put it in the wrong location.

hme: It sounds like providers should use their specific knowledge as a marketing tool.

Karl: That’s what we do. It’s sad, but a contractor who says he’s been doing building for 15 years can build you a house, but he doesn’t understand the difference between an MS patient and a high-level quad.

hme: What are some of the barriers in the market?

Karl: A lot of insurance companies don’t include home modifications as part of their policy structure. They’ll buy you a wheelchair, but they don’t help to make your home functioning for that wheelchair.

hme: Do you think that will change?

Karl: Home modifications is an area that’s still in its infancy, as far as people understanding that, hey, with some minor changes and some minor expenses, there are lots of ways to keep someone at home. Overhead lifts have been around for 14 years, but people aren’t aware of them. It’s going to take time.