The Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay affiliate, located in Tampa Bay, Fla., announced the first-ever Universal Design Certified Professional (UDCP) on staff. For Senior Project Manager Mark Zdrojewski, the certification program made perfect sense, once it was suggested by longtime education advocate—and NARI and Rebuilding Together board member—Don Strobel, CR, CKBR, GCP, of Strobel Design Build, based in St. Petersburg, Fla.
“It was the logical choice to get the UDCP—we rehabilitate homes for seniors, families with children and disabled veterans,” he says.
How UDCP benefits Rebuilding Together
With a limited $10,000 to $15,000 budget on every project, Zdrojewski has learned to make every dollar count.
One of the ways Zdrojewski and other Rebuilding Together project managers keep costs down is through intricate planning and pre-construction site evaluation. Because Zdrojewski faces accessibility issues in all of his projects, the client needs assessment portion of the UDCP program has become a valuable tool.
“The UDCP gives me the tools to evaluate homes and address the client’s current and future needs,” he says.
The UDCP program has given Zdrojewski a new perspective determining scope of work and cost. “I am better able to weigh the cost-effective universal design options. If we are installing new walls, then widening them is easily incorporated,” he says. This is also helpful in material selections, where they choose maintenance-free or non-glare flooring at a similar price point.
When additional costs are unavoidable, Zdrojewski is better able to account for them upfront. “Some universal design elements require additional materials and time (like adding grab bars in a shower), but planning them in advance makes a huge difference.”
He’s also learned a lot about safety, such as the danger in having the microwave above a stove. “I never realized before that it is dangerous to reach over a stove to pull something out of a microwave,” he says.
Finally, the UDCP program addresses one of Rebuilding Together’s primary goals—renovating a home for short-term and long-term needs of the homeowners, who eventually pass the home down to the next generation of families. “One of our goals at Rebuilding Together is not only to update a home, but turn it over to them without having to do any work for the next 20 years,” he says.
Dollars and sense
For Rebuilding Together, just as it is for a remodeling company, continuing education creates a higher-efficiency team and increases productivity. The chapter rehabilitates roughly 100 homes per year, and much of this this is funded by donors.
The heavy reliance on generous donations requires the affiliate to constantly find new ways to increase interest in the work they are accomplishing and the people they serve.
“When the donors know that we have the capacity and the know-how to meet homeowners’ needs, they tend donate more money and are more willing to help us meet our goals,” Zdrojewski says.
When the Tampa Bay affiliate announced Zdrojewski’s new UDCP certification, the donor feedback was incredible.–Morgan Zenner