One of the first things you see as you walk into Elder Living Construction's new Universal Design Center at 27260 Haggerty Rd. in Farmington Hills is a very large shower stall.
Large enough to accommodate a wheelchair, the stall also has a trendy look that would fit well in any home. It's the kind of thing the company encourages clients to consider: design with an eye toward the future and aging.
Roger Burghdoff of Ferndale founded Elder Living Construction in 2011, focusing on accessible, barrier-free commercial and residential remodeling. He partnered with Tim Saling of Farmington Hills.
"I got tired of going to look at a job, and there's 20 other people doing the same thing," he said. "I wanted to specialize in something, and when I ran across this, it was a no-brainer."
In addition to the country's growing population of Baby Boomers who are hitting retirement age, Elder Living Construction helps retrofit homes after a family member suffers a catastrophic injury or illness. That's how Livonia resident Barbara Baker became a partner.
Baker's husband died four years ago of brain cancer. While he was ill, she contacted Burghdoff about remodeling her bathroom.
"We spent 45 minutes talking about his business," she recalled. "I was so intrigued by it. I really got what Roger was trying to do."
The company employs its own craftspeople, and recently hired occupational therapist Carol Green. Burghdoff said Green provides them with an advantage, because she looks at design from the perspective of how it functions. The company has also worked with Senior Helpers, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and other organizations in creating the design center, Baker said.
"The trend is, so many people want to remain in their homes," she said. "We want to help people remain safe in their homes."
While the company helps those with physical challenges, designs are "universal", so products may have other applications. A mirror that tilts, for instance, can help a person in a wheelchair, but is also a good fit for Burghdoff, who is tall, and his wife, who is much shorter.
"We carry bamboo flooring that is no different than what anybody might have in their home," he said. "We're just thinking about it differently."
The public is invited to visit Elder Living Construction's Universal Design Center, 27260 Haggerty Rd Suite A1, on Dec. 4, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., with a ribbon cutting ceremony scheduled for 1 p.m. Appetizers and beverages will be served throughout the day. For more information or to RSVP, call 888-248-3510 or visit www.elderlivingconstruction.com.
Correction: The name of occupational therapist, Carol Green, was misspelled in the original version of this post. The RSVP phone number for the open house has also been corrected.