My first home modification project was my own...I was living in a 483 square foot studio apartment in Portland in 2010. If you’ve ever lived in a “tiny home” you know that storage efficiency and organization is key! I had a walk-through closet (think Carrie Bradshaw) leading to the bathroom that had one single, solitary hanging rod. Clearly, that wasn’t going to cut it for a thirty something lady with a passion for clothes. I spent way too much time at IKEA designing and redesigning my closet system. Thinking about the function, the use of space, and the aesthetics was so interesting to me!
Coincidently a few weeks later an article was published in an occupational therapy magazine I subscribe to (OT Practice) about an emerging specialty area called Home Modifications. I read, reread, and reread the article again. I was blown away. This was it for me! The confluence of my interests in one practice area: OT, my interest in spatial relations and function, and my long time interest in interior design.
I began to supplement my OT knowledge by getting a certification through the National Home Builders Association called CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialist) which was my first foray into the world of building. In the class, I sat alongside residential contractors, architects, and various kinds of “subs” (I was learning the construction lingo). Next was a deeper dive into learning about home modifications through University of Southern California where I earned the Executive Certificate of Home Modifications - a 6 month intensive online program through the program of Gerontology. Topics covered here were varied: products, spatial considerations, funding (or lack of), and building a business in home modifications.
LiveAble was born in 2011 with great excitement and energy. I got involved in everything I could. I did home modification assessments on a volunteer basis with a wonderful non-profit called ReFit - Remodeling for Independence Together. I did speaking engagements with AARP, and the MS Society. I put all my energy into my new project.
A few clients began to trickle my way - a home safety evaluation, an evaluation for a platform lift, next an addition to a home for a therapy gym (that was fun!).
I continued to take classes to learn more about design and construction and have taken several classes in Interior Design and Architecture, Building Systems, and Architecture. I now provide concept drawings to clients or contractors in AutoCAD format. I became a residential contractor in 2016 and managed my first residential project in 2017. Wow, was that a learning experience!
LiveAble was awarded a contract with the State of Oregon / Department of Human Services - specifically Office of Developmental Disabilities and Adults and People with Disabilities in February 2017. I am a contracted with the state to provide Field Consultation for Environmental Modifications for people who qualify for this incredible program. They are developmentally disabled individuals who need home modifications to be cared for safely in their homes. This is the some of the most meaningful and rewarding work I have done. The clients and their families are so grateful for the service provided and ultimately my work enables their loved one to stay at home. As an added bonus, it saves the taxpayers money by helping keep these individuals cared for in their homes. Win-win!
LiveAble’s processes have been every changing over the past 7 years- as is common with start up businesses. What I have come to believe with all my heart is this: Personalized homes "fit" their owners and allow them to stay where they want to be: at home. I believe that people with unique abilities or disabilities need tailored solutions. I work with people to improve their safety, abilities, and quality of life by modifying the home - ultimately allowing them to remain at home ,where they want to be.
Oh, and the closet turned out perfectly.