Your home should be a place of comfort. Yet, if you or a loved one is one of the 40 million Americans living with a disability, building a truly comfortable home can be daunting. Even before you get estimates for remodeling your home around a disability, there is the exhaustive process of identifying all the changes your home needs to accommodate your needs.
There are a few key areas of your house you should focus on:
- Bathrooms: These rooms are high-risk areas for slips and falls, making them a central focus of any remodel for a homeowner or family member with a disability.
- Kitchen: Updating your kitchen is one of the most important rooms to consider when remodeling for a handicap or disability to ensure all appliances and surfaces are usable.
- Entrances & Stairways: Entryways and stairways are especially important to make sure you or your loved one can easily enter and move around the house themselves.
Essential Bathroom Modifications
- Walk-in showers: Showers that are level with the bathroom floor are not just wheelchair accessible, but also safer to use. This how-to shows the steps to converting a bathtub to a walk-in shower.
- Grab bars: Handles placed next to bathroom fixtures, including the shower, greatly improve accessibility.
- Lowered sinks & countertops: Another way to help those with a wheelchair reach sinks, countertops and cabinet space.
- Widening doorways & floor space: Wider door frames and added floor space enable those with wheelchairs or mobility devices to easily enter and exit the room.
Essential Kitchen Modifications
- Lowered countertops & cabinets: Using lower countertops and cabinets with pull-out drawers will make finding and using cookware simple. The ideal height for countertops is typically 28 to 34 inches tall, though should be customized for the user.
- Touch-sensitive faucets: These types of faucets are very helpful for those with limited use of their hands or arms.
- Lowering power outlets: Relocating your power outlets will make plugging and unplugging appliances a lot easier. If your budget and home layout permits, this is also a good idea for the other rooms in your home.
Essential Mobility Modifications
- Wheelchair ramp: One of the most common exterior modifications, a custom-built wheelchair ramp will allow you or your loved one a greater degree of independence.
- Chair lift/elevator: Depending on the scope of your project, you may decide to install a chair lift or in-home elevator. The former typically does not require remodeling to install and is the more budget-friendly option. However, an in-home elevator provides the added benefit of being able to move a wheelchair between floors with minimal effort.
Modifications to any home can be costly. To help with ADA compliant modifications, here are a few options:
Home Improvement Grants & Assistance for Homeowners With a Disability
- The US Department of Veterans Affairs: Offers two types of grants for veterans, one for construction of a specially adapted home and another for modifying a currently owned home.
- Rebuilding Together AmeriCorps: Helps families throughout the country modify their homes to accommodate the needs of family members with disabilities.
- The Rural Housing Repair and Loans: Provides loans and grants for low-income homeowners ages 62 and over.
- National Council of State Housing Agencies: Offers a comprehensive directory of state housing agencies and their offices to find local housing assistance programs near you.