There are a couple of tools that a designer can use to evaluate the needs of their clients. One of those tools is the Comprehensive Assessment and Solution Process for Aging Residents (CASPAR). CASPAR was designed for healthcare professionals to evaluate their clients ability to carry out routine activities in the home. This is also useful in determining the requirements of people who have disabilities.
Almost all discovery processes used by home designers focus on the use and space requirements of the rooms in the house. This is good, but too little attention is given to the personal needs of the people actually living in the home. Without performing a comprehensive assessment of the clients functional abilities, identifying areas of the home where modifications are necessary is often overlooked.
Yes, you could do it yourself, and you would likely do a good job in your own eyes, but are you sure that your taste would impress your visitors - or your neighbors? Of course, not everyone bothers what the neighbors and in-laws think, but surely it is best to have a look at what professional designers can come up with before going your own way? You are under no obligation to take their free advice - and it is a free service that many furniture stores offer.
Does this level of service cost more? Yes, probably. But a couple hundred dollars up front to hire a qualified designer who will accurately assess your lifestyle and evaluate your future needs, pales in comparison to leaving your design to chance. The number one secret to good home design is to avoid cutting costs at this stage of your project and find a home designer who is an expert in assessing your needs and applying the design criteria that will make your house a home for a lifetime.
Distinguishing between universal and adaptable design may seem difficult at first, but when one realizes that these principles have less to do about the installation of specific items and are more about a designers perspective, it all begins to make better sense. And the designers perspective is heavily influenced by a thorough client assessment.