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What Is the Best Time of Year to Remodel Your Investment Property?

December 12th, 2023 |

You have some renovations in mind for your investment property. But what is the best time to remodel? Many factors go into scheduling a remodel, from weather conditions to price and contractor availability. Should you plan your project when tenants are away on vacation? Maybe you’re wondering about scheduling a new addition when the ground is frozen. Here are some tips for deciding when to remodel your property. 

Seasonal Price Changes

Finding the best time to remodel is often a matter of supply and demand. While summer is a popular time for renovations, it also an expensive season. Contractors buy lumber, hardware, and other supplies for all those remodels.  

As calendars fill up, contractors and building materials become more difficult to find and prices go up. Demand is high while the supply is low. The result is seasonally high prices for your summertime remodel. 

Contractor Availability 

Contractors are very busy during the summer months, which is a popular time for home remodeling. If you schedule a project for the summer, however, your favorite contractors may already be booked. If top contractors are busy, you’ll have to settle for a team that you’d rather not hire.  

Seasonal price increases can mean that you’ll pay a higher price for lower quality results. If you plan your remodel for the less hectic cold weather months, however, the contractors you really want will be more available at off-season prices. 

Scheduling Major Projects During Vacations

To avoid the hassle of living in a construction zone, people often schedule major renovations during their vacations. Why live with the mess and inconvenience of a remodel if you don’t have to? Summer may be a popular vacation time, but you can also schedule a project while you’re away for the winter holidays. The effects of supply and demand come into play again, making it easier to find a top contractor at a lower price in the winter. 

If you decide to remodel while you or your tenants away, make sure the project team can contact you. You’ll want to know right away if a contractor has an urgent question of if there’s an unexpected setback. 

Remodeling During Cold and Dry Weather

Besides lower prices and contractor availability, the weather itself is a good reason to remodel during fall and winter. Many tasks are easier to carry out in cool, dry conditions. For example, it’s easier to pour a concrete foundation when the ground is frozen. Fall is a great time to install wood flooring, which can swell in hot, humid weather. 

Fall and winter can be the best time to remodel a roof or attic, which can become excessively hot in the summer. Even a swimming pool or deck can be installed in the fall and winter. The project may take longer when the ground is frosty, but it will be easier to find a contractor for the job. 

At RH Blanchard, we are ready to help with your Boston-area renovation. Contact us today for more information and a free quote. 

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5 Tips for an Effective Contractor and Client Relationship

November 14th, 2023 |

From scheduling subcontractors to selecting materials, remodeling can be a complex process. An effective contractor and client relationship helps to ensure a successful project outcome. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when working with a contractor. 

1. Decide Ahead of Time What You Want

Know in advance what your goals are for the project and how much you are willing and able to spend. Before your first meeting with the contractor, be ready to discuss your style preferences, as well as flooring, plumbing fixtures, and other details. If possible, show the contractor-specific appliances and other items that you have picked out. 

2. Work With a Licensed and Experienced Contractor  

Having confidence in a contractor’s experience and qualifications helps create a positive client-contractor relationship. Always check references and verify professional licenses when hiring a contractor. Taking the time to screen potential contractors helps prevent costly and time-consuming mistakes in the future.  

Before you hire, ask the contractor for a list of references. Contact the references and ask detailed questions about the quality of the contractor’s work. You can verify a Boston-area contractor’s license online with the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards. Also, ask the contractor for proof of liability insurance workman’s compensation coverage.  

3. Read and Understand the Written Contract 

As the saying goes, get it in writing. A clearly written contract helps prevent misunderstandings and unpleasant surprises between a contractor and client. Before you sign a contract, read it carefully and make sure you understand and agree to the terms. 

The contract should include items such as materials, project milestones, price, and completion date. To ensure quality workmanship, make sure that the contract includes a requirement that all subcontractors must be licensed.  

4. Communicate Clearly and Regularly  

As with all relationships, communication is key between a contractor and client. You and your contractor should meet on a regular basis for progress reports. In-person meetings are more effective and help to build trust more than emails, texts or even phone calls. 

Honest communication is crucial, and it should work both ways. Tell the contractor as soon as possible when unforeseen circumstances occur. If you have an unexpected medical bill, for example, let the contractor know that you may have difficulty making a scheduled payment. Issues can often be worked out with open and honest communication. 

5. Have Realistic Expectations 

A qualified, experienced contractor will do the best they can to make your project a success. Life happens, however, and some delays and setbacks are beyond the contractor’s control. Inclement weather, shipping problems, and permit applications, for example, can force a construction team to stop work.  

A contract, therefore, should include extra time allowances for unexpected delays. Planning ahead for potential problems can help keep the project on schedule and promote a positive client-contractor relationship.

At RH Blanchard, we believe in developing an efficient contractor and client relationship.  Our highly skilled and experienced general contracting professionals are here to listen to your remodeling ideas and dreams. Contact us today to request your free quote.

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Basement Remodeling: What to Expect

November 9th, 2023 |

A basement can be much more than just a storage area. Whether in your home or investment property, basement remodeling contractors can turn that dark, unused area into a livable, functional space. Because of its location, a basement remodel has some unique considerations. Below we discuss what to expect during the project. 

Decide How You Want to Use the Basement

Before you hire basement remodel contractors, decide how you plan to use the space. Are you converting it to a living area or will you be using it as a laundry room? Some remodels require extensive structural changes, while others involve mostly cosmetic work.  

The complexity of the remodel also depends on local building codes and the condition of the basement. A general contracting professional can advise you on the type of work needed to meet your goals. 

Test for Moisture 

Dampness is a common issue in basements, so a remodel will likely involve moisture control. A good way to check for moisture is to tape squares of plastic sheeting to the floor and walls. If you see water droplets underneath the sheeting, the foundation needs sealing. If the droplets form on top, the issue is excess humidity. To reduce humidity, you can install a dehumidifier and increase ventilation by opening windows. 

Make Sure Building Is Up to Code  

Local building codes apply to various aspects of a basement remodel. For example, electrical and plumbing work must meet code requirements and should be carried out by licensed professionals. Building codes apply to other types of basement remodel work, including: 

  • Framing boiler and laundry rooms
  • Ceiling height
  • Clearance around the water heater and furnace

Bringing your basement up to code may involve relocating plumbing or ductwork, or even lowering the floor. Basement remodel contractors have the necessary skills and expertise for this type of work and can assist with obtaining required permits. 

Prevent Mold Growth

Since mold loves a humid, dark environment, a basement remodel should prevent mold before it has a chance to grow. First, seal the floor and walls with a masonry primer. Then, apply latex paint to the walls and epoxy or enamel to the floor. Install a dehumidifier to keep humidity at 65 percent or lower. Insulate pipes to prevent condensation and add weather stripping to doors and windows as a barrier against summer humidity.  

Hire an HVAC Professional to Check the Ventilation 

Poor ventilation and a faulty HVAC system can result in carbon monoxide buildup in the basement. Fuel-burning equipment must be working properly to prevent dangerous levels of this gas. Hire an HVAC professional to inspect your furnace and ventilation, and make any necessary repairs or upgrades. 

Plan For Backup Sump Pump 

A backup sump pump is a worthwhile investment to prevent basement flooding. A main pump can fail for a variety of reasons, including power outages and clogs. Installing a battery backup for the main pump and second, stand-alone sump pump can prevent costly flood damage in the future.  

At RH Blanchard, our experienced basement remodeling contractors can transform your Boston-area home or investment property. Contact us today and get your free quote.

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Do I Need a General Contractor to Renovate?

October 16th, 2023 |

It’s time to take the plunge and renovate your investment property. You may wonder, “Do I need a general contractor to renovate?” A general contracting professional is indispensable for some types of projects.

Project Involves Multiple Contractors

Some renovation projects involve complex scheduling of multiple contractors. A general contracting professional understands the timeframe subcontractors need to complete their work. They can keep the project on track and spare you the hassle of time management.  

Building Codes Require a Licensed Contractor

To comply with local building codes, you may have to hire a licensed professional to complete certain projects. A non-professional can be fined if they do some types of work. A licensed general contractor can get permits that you would not legally be able to obtain.  

Warranties Require a Qualified Professional  

A product or material warranty may be valid only if a certified professional does the work. For items that affect the structural integrity of a building — such as a roof or window — the warranty may be voided if you do the work yourself. 

Important Questions When Hiring a General Contractor

Gathering information is an important part of the hiring process. Here are some questions to ask a general contractor. 

Are They Licensed and Insured?

Ask the general contractor for proof that their professional license, liability insurance, and workers’ compensation are all up to date. Do not hire anyone who will not provide documentation of these items. In Massachusetts, you can verify the status of a contractor’s license with the Board of Building Regulations and Standards.  

Will They Obtain Permits?

A reputable general contractor will obtain the necessary permits for your renovation project. Consider it a red flag if a contractor tells you to get the permit yourself or if the project does not need a permit. 

Do They Provide References?

Before hiring, ask a general contractor for references, preferably from projects similar to yours. If the contractor has a history of successful projects, they will happily provide a list of satisfied clients. Ask for pictures of completed projects, too. Contact the references and ask if they are satisfied with the contractor’s work.  

How Will They Communicate?

Whether email, text or phone call, communication between the client and the general contractor is crucial during a renovation project. Ask how often you will hear from the contractor and what type of communication they will use. Certain communications, such as change requests, should be documented in writing. Also, make sure you have contact information for after-hours emergencies. 

Will They Provide an Itemized Bid and Contract?

An itemized bid allows you to discuss and change the cost of materials and labor. The contract should be itemized with specific materials, labor, and payment schedule information. It should include a list of documents the contractor will give you at the end of the project, such as warranties and inspection reports. 

Have you answered yes to the question, “Do I need a general contractor to renovate my Boston-area property?” Get in touch with the general contracting professionals at RH Blanchard for a free quote.

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Improve Your Property’s Energy Efficiency with These 7 Tips

October 10th, 2023 |

If you’re an investment property owner, energy efficiency is a great way to save money and protect the environment. When you improve energy efficiency of home appliances and systems, you spend less on energy bills. Plus, you help reduce pollution from power plants. Here are some energy-saving tips for your property.  

1. Seal Gaps and Leaks   

Heated or cooled air can leak through gaps and cracks in the home, driving up energy costs as much as 10%. Inspect windows and exterior doors and seal any gaps that you find. Replace dry and cracked rubber seals on your refrigerator door to help the appliance maintain the proper temperature. Inspect HVAC ductwork and repair all leaks.    

2. Insulate Your Property    

Make sure you adequately insulate your property. Insulation is rated according to R levels, with higher levels providing greater heat resistance. Attic insulation, for example, should meet the R-38 level or higher. The walls, basement, crawlspace, and garage should also be insulated.    

3. Choose Energy Star Certified Appliances   

Do your major appliances have the Energy Star label? Energy Star certification means an appliance has energy-saving features that can help you save money. Appliances over 10 years old — particularly refrigerators and clothes dryers — are less energy-efficient and will likely need replacing. It may also be time to upgrade your old HVAC system with Energy Star-certified heating and cooling equipment. Look for the Energy Star label when buying appliances and equipment.   

4. Switch to LED Lightbulbs    

To improve energy efficiency of home lighting, replace older lightbulbs with energy-efficient LED bulbs. LED lighting uses up to 90% less energy and lasts up to 25% longer than incandescent bulbs. Remember to turn off lights when not in use and use natural light whenever possible.    

5. Adjust Refrigerator and Freezer Temperatures    

Set your refrigerator and freezer temperatures according to manufacturer recommendations. A good temperature range is 35-38 degrees F for refrigerators and 0 degrees F for freezers. Defrost the freezer regularly to prevent ice from building up more than 1/4 inch thick. Excessive ice buildup can prevent the appliance from running efficiently.    

6. Install a Programmable Thermostat    

Replace a traditional thermostat with a programmable model to help regulate energy usage. Set the thermostat for optimal energy savings in hot weather for 78 degrees F and 85 degrees F when no one is home. During colder months, set the temperature at 68 degrees and 60-65 degrees F when the property is unoccupied.    

7. Run Dishwasher and Clothes Washer/Dryer During Non-Peak Hours

Avoid using the dishwasher, clothes washer, and dryer between 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. The power grid is under strain during these peak usage hours, so running these appliances later at night is best.    

Wash clothes in cold water and clean the lint trap before using the dryer. Even better, air-dry the clothes instead. Run the dishwasher only when full and turn off the heated dry setting.   

Let the general contracting team at RH Blanchard help make your Boston-area property more energy-efficient. To get a free quote, contact us today.

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How to Mix Old and New with an Investment Property Renovation

October 4th, 2023 |

You want to modernize your vintage investment property while preserving its retro charm. Mixing old and new interior design elements can breathe new life into older homes. Whether replacing uneven floors or designing a new kitchen layout, you can update your property for 21st-century living. We’ve listed some tips for blending original and brand-new design features.  

Decide What to Keep

When buying an older property, you may have to make difficult decisions about your favorite features. For example, you’ll have to replace heavily damaged old-world flooring, no matter how attractive it is. On the other hand, you’ll want to hold onto those retro windows that are in good condition. Original crown molding can often stay when renovating an old house.  

Keep elements that do not need extensive repairs and do not create a safety hazard. Replace or discard features that will become liabilities, such as rotting flooring. 

Incorporate Original Design Elements 

Once you decide which elements to keep, you can have fun incorporating them into the renovation. Experienced general contracting professionals are skilled at mixing old and new interior design elements. For example, a contractor can replace wooden kitchen cabinets with sleek, contemporary cabinets that complement the original design.

Updated light fixtures can add a modern touch to a traditional room. Let’s say you’d like to retain most of the vintage elements in the living room. A fresh coat of paint or modern track can bring the room into the 21st century without clashing with original features. 

Update Kitchen and Bathrooms

Your old-fashioned kitchen and bathrooms will likely need 21st-century updates. Over the decades, appliances, plumbing, electrical requirements, and lifestyles have changed. For example, you may want to add modern, built-in cabinets for storing appliances to free up kitchen counter space. Perhaps the refrigerator should be closer to the island for easier prepping. You can stay faithful to the original style by keeping key pieces, such as a farmhouse sink or brass knobs.  

It is possible to update a bathroom while keeping its original charm. A retro bathroom often needs modern features, such as an exhaust fan, to help prevent mold. You may have to replace electric outlets to satisfy code requirements. If that quaint, original pedestal sink is beyond repair, replace it with a newer, similar model. Brand-new plumbing fixtures can mimic the old style but improve functionality.  

Add Personality and Character

Remember to get creative with a few unique pieces when mixing old and new interior design elements. Don’t be afraid of adding a quirky element or accent piece. It could be a paint color on a closet door or an art deco mirror frame. A playful element or two will add a contemporary vibe to the original formal design. 

If you plan to renovate your vintage investment property, you can depend on RH Blanchard. With more than a decade of Boston-area general contracting experience, we understand the importance of mixing old and new design ideas. To request a free quote, get in touch today.

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Construction Management, General Contracting, and Design-Build: What’s the Difference?

September 8th, 2023 |

It’s time to start that remodeling project for your investment property, but you’re unsure which professionals to hire. The design contractors at R.H. Blanchard have compiled a simple guide to explain the differences between design-build, general contracting, and contract management.


 A design-build company is responsible for the entire project, from design to construction. You will work with a single general contractor who oversees every aspect, from hiring subcontractors to keeping the project on schedule. With one company working on conceptual designs, materials, and scheduling, team members are likelier to stay on the same page.

If your remodel involves an addition, structural changes, plumbing, or electrical work, a design-build company may be the way to go. A skilled and experienced design team is crucial in complex projects, especially if they can readily collaborate with the construction team. 

Design-Build Advantages and Considerations 

Design-build is also a good option for keeping a project on track and on schedule. All team members work for the same company, making it easier to communicate and solve problems. The client does not have to be closely involved with every stage of construction.

One disadvantage to the design-build approach can be a lack of flexibility. For example, changing the design can be time-consuming with a design-build company. Since the scope of the project is highly detailed from the start, any changes can result in significant delays. 

General Contracting

General contractors supervise every aspect of the construction stage. They hire subcontractors and ensure that the work is completed safely and according to the terms of the contract. A general contractor will know construction laws, building codes, and product warranty requirements. For example, certain products must be installed by a professional contractor to satisfy the warranty terms.

General Contracting Advantages and Considerations

If you prefer to be closely involved at every stage of the construction project, from selecting materials to choosing your own design contractors, you may want to work with a general contractor. A general contractor is also a good option for painting, window installation, or other projects that do not require design contractors. 

There are some potential disadvantages when working with a general contractor. Unlike a design-build company, responsibility is divided among multiple parties. When disagreements arise, you may have to act as a mediator. The general contractor and design firm also may come up with different cost estimates, resulting in delays and frustration.

Construction Management

Construction managers have broader responsibilities than general contractors. They work with professionals at every stage of a project, from design contractors to electricians. Unlike a design-build company, a construction manager may work with subcontractors as well as an in-house team. 

Construction Management Advantages and Considerations

A construction manager can coordinate a well-organized, collaborative project that stays on budget. Also known as construction management at risk (CMAR), this approach ensures that all team members understand the design, construction plans, and the client’s vision. 

Do not hire a construction manager simply because they offer a low bid. Ask for multiple bids, check references and carefully review each estimate. 

At RH Blanchard, we offer expert workmanship and construction project management. Contact us and get a free quote for your Boston-area construction project.

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Adding an Addition to Your Investment Property? 5 Factors You Should Know

September 6th, 2023 |

Home addition planning can be exciting and stressful for an investment property owner. From hiring a contractor to figuring costs, many factors must be considered. Keep the following tips in mind when making house addition plans.

#1 Decide Whether an Addition Is the Best Option

A home addition can be costly, so make sure it’s the best option for your property. Ask yourself if an addition is really in your best interest. Look at the space and layout that you already have. Can you finish the basement to provide an extra room? Maybe you can knock down an interior wall to better use adjacent spaces. 

#2 Consider What You Need From an Addition  

As an investment property owner, you want to create a livable, functional space for your tenants. House addition plans should meet the needs of the occupants. For example, a new kitchen should be constructed to provide a comfortable and efficient workspace. A master bedroom should serve as a quiet haven. When evaluating your property, consider what is lacking or needs improvement. Then, you can plan an addition that will improve the existing space.  

#3 Factor In Hidden Costs

Some home addition costs are easy to anticipate, such as building materials, labor, and permit fees. However, there are many less obvious costs to keep in mind during addition planning: 

Insurance and Tax Increases 

Two expenses will likely increase after an addition: home insurance and property taxes. On a positive note, higher insurance premiums mean that you’ll be covered if the new addition is damaged. Higher property taxes are a result of increased home value after an addition.  

Loan Interest and Fees

If you take out a loan to finance the addition, you will pay more than the loan’s original amount. Interest, origination, and processing fees add up quickly, so remember to include these costs in your budget.  


During a home addition project, the surrounding lawn, shrubs and planting beds can take a beating from machinery. You may have to remove or replace plants and grass on the property. 


When hiring a room addition contractor, understand the fees and responsibilities for waste removal and debris cleanup.  

#4 Weigh Cost vs. Resale Value

An addition may increase the resale value of your property. For example, a midrange bathroom addition can yield a 30 percent return on investment (ROI). However, the additional space can result in higher property taxes and other increased costs, such as heating and cooling. Depending on the local market, you may not recover the additional cost when selling your investment property. 

#5 Hire a Reputable Contractor  

A general contracting professional is indispensable when it comes to addition planning. Get bids from multiple room addition contractors and ask for project timelines, payment schedules, and warranty coverage details. Confirm that a contractor is licensed and insured, and check references from clients who have completed similar projects.   

At RH Blanchard, we make Boston-area house addition plans come to life. Get in touch with our general contracting team today for a free quote.

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How to Develop a Timeline for Your Next Design-Build Project

August 8th, 2023 |

Whether planning a bathroom remodel or building an entire home, developing a timeline of construction project phases is important. The building project timeline ensures that the design-build provider stays on schedule and budget from design to construction. 

Pre-Planning and Research

Before meeting with contractors, allow at least one to four weeks for pre-planning and research. This phase lets you develop your project’s vision, scope, and budget. Collect images of favorite places and find common elements that you like. For example, do they all have similar flooring or finishes? These images will help you communicate your vision during the project. 

Consultation With General Contractor

During your first meeting with the general contractor and design team, you will share your vision for the project. This meeting sets the groundwork and gets everyone on the same page. The contractor will explain the design-build process and help you set a budget.  

Be realistic about how much you can afford to spend on your project. For example, your general contractor can advise you on alternatives to high-end materials. You don’t want to run out of funds halfway through construction. 

Pre-Construction Phase

Pre-construction planning typically lasts three to eight months, depending on the complexity of the project. This phase includes a site analysis and review of zoning and permit requirements. The general contracting team may meet with you to discuss materials, landscaping, parking, and other details. Now is the time to address potential problems that could cause delays in the future.  

Project Design

During the design phase, you and the design team will review your collected images and discuss styles and materials. Of course, the design must fall within the project budget. This stage of the building project timeline can last from two to six months. Now is the time to review blueprints and other construction documents and make any necessary changes. Before construction begins, the general contractor will review the final documents and budget with you. 


All of those meetings and consultations are finally paying off. The construction team now arrives at the site, and the work begins!  Depending on the project, construction can take several months to a year. Ensure you allow extra time for custom-constructed items and materials shipped from overseas.  

Extra Time for the Unexpected  

Even the most carefully developed plans can hit a snag. When planning a building project timeline, expecting the unexpected is always a good idea. Include “buffer time” for problems that may arise, such as severe weather or shipping issues. Add at least two extra months to your timeline for construction project delays. 


This three- to six-week phase consists of a final walkthrough with the design-build team. You will receive documentation and have an opportunity to address any issues. After an inspector issues a certificate of occupancy, the project is complete. 

If you’re a Boston-area investment property owner, you need an experienced design-build team for your next construction project. Contact RH Blanchard and get a free quote from our general contracting professionals.

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Universal Home Design: What Does It Mean?

August 7th, 2023 |

Universal home design makes a home more comfortable and accessible for everyone, regardless of age or mobility issues. Aging in place has become an especially important concept as the so-called “Baby Boomers” retire. Consider incorporating universal design elements if you plan to remodel your home or investment property.

Accessible Entrances and Exits

Entrances and exits, whether interior or exterior, should be easy and safe. Doorways should be at least 32 inches wide to accommodate a wheelchair or walker. A bench next to the entrance makes bringing groceries or packages easier.  

Railings are an important safety feature and should be included with all steps and staircases. Ideally, entrances should have no steps. You can, however, replace outdoor steps with ramps.  

Additional Lighting 

Pathways and hallways can become hazardous in dim light. Make sure indoor and outdoor walkways have adequate lighting. Consider installing skylights or additional windows to increase interior natural light. In hallways, add nightlights that turn on when indoor light becomes dim. Motion-sensitive outdoor lighting helps make entering and exiting safer and easier. 

Easy-to-Use Handles and Switches 

Operating door knobs and toggle switches can be difficult for people with limited strength. Door handles, light switches, and faucets should be easy to use. For example, you can replace toggle light switches with illuminated rocker switches pushed with an elbow or wrist. Install lever-style handles on doors and faucets for easy operation.  

Bathroom Safety Features

Unsurprisingly, most falls in the home occur in the bathroom. Wet bathroom floors are an especially common slip hazard. Many materials and features are available to make the bathroom a safer place, from textured flooring to grab bars.  

Universal home design elements can make bathroom fixtures accessible to people with limited mobility. For example, a shower bench or walk-in tub can help reduce the risk of falling. A wall-mounted toilet makes sitting down and standing up less hazardous than a lower, floor-mounted toilet.

User-Friendly Kitchen 

Many kitchen tasks, such as washing dishes and chopping vegetables, are easier to complete while sitting. Install low countertops and sinks and replace the island with a table to help create an accessible kitchen. On the other hand, some people may prefer to stand on a higher countertop to avoid bending over. Other features, like pull-out cutting boards and lever-style faucets, make a kitchen more user-friendly. 

Helpful Technology  

Simple tasks such as making a phone call or setting a thermostat can become more difficult as we age or live with mobility issues. These days, a variety of technologies are available that can make home life easier and safer for everyone. Some devices, for example, allow monitoring of older or more vulnerable occupants. Other technologies make using phones, locks, thermostats, and other important devices easier.

Is your Boston-area home or investment property safe and accessible for all ages and abilities? Let the experienced general contracting professionals at RH Blanchard help with your universal home design project. Contact us today to request your free quote.

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