CANFIELD BUILDER Program benefits elderly, disabled

The local contractor wants to teach others about certain remodeling techniques.
CANFIELD -- A Canfield home builder is one of the first contractors in the country to become certified in a new program designed to help senior citizens and people who are disabled live in their homes longer.
Sam Pitzulo of Sam Pitzulo Homes wants to start training other builders on the techniques he has learned.
He was named a certified aging-in-place specialist after being part of the first training class earlier this month. Fifty contractors attended three days of training in Orlando, Fla.
Pitzulo plans to attend a second training program in Washington, D.C., to learn how to teach others. It would be his responsibility to teach other home builders in western Pennsylvania and northern Ohio.
"We're going to need a lot of contractors to handle the quantity of work," he said.
Reason for program
The National Home Builders Association developed the program with the help of the American Association of Retired Persons because more older and disabled people want to stay in their homes.
These homeowners need changes to their outside steps, hallways, doorknobs, bathrooms and kitchens.
People in wheelchairs need space to turn the chairs around. Bathtubs need grab bars that are sturdy enough to support a person's weight.
Sinks need to be designed so wheelchairs can be placed underneath. Steps must be replaced with gradual inclines.
Pitzulo said contractors rely on their own intuition and information they have gathered over the years.
The program gives details about what is needed and covers items that contractors may not have thought of, he said. All of the work can be done without the home's appearing different from other homes, he said.
Pitzulo said he expects more people will be requesting this work because the AARP will be marketing the program and listing certified contractors.
Most of the work will be remodeling projects, but the concepts also apply to new homes, he said.
Looking at costs
He said he wouldn't mention the program to most people having a home built because the necessary work would add between $3,000 and $5,000 to the cost of the home.
Some people, however, would be willing to consider that cost, such as someone in their 40s or 50s who has been diagnosed with arthritis but wants to build a home, he said. This person knows their condition is going to get worse so they may be willing to pay for the work necessary to keep them in their homes for many years, he said.
New-home construction can include placing dishwashers on platforms so people don't have to bend over, installing a pull-out tray next to the oven so a hot dish can be set down while the oven is closed and preparing first- and second-floor closets for the possible addition of an elevator, he said.

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