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.
Fortunately, there are a variety of resources and experts out there who can help you during the planning process. Home modifications need to adapt to the individual person not the disability as a whole. Within these three areas, there are any number of changes you can make to suit your specific needs. Below are a few of the most common features incorporated into home remodels that focus on accessibility.
Exterior ramps are the most common outdoor home modification, allowing easy exit and entry for those with mobility impairments. Cost is the biggest factor for any home remodel, and remodeling to accommodate a handicap or disability is no different. Due to these high costs, there are numerous grants and financial assistance programs available to help reduce the cost of making your home accessible.
Here are a few of the most well-known organizations that offer funding or direct assistance for building an adapted home or modifying an existing one:. A good place to start is by searching for nearby members of Accessible Home Improvements of America , a nationwide network of independent living solutions providers. This is a certification granted by the National Association of Home Builders to those professionals who have received training in the design and installation of home accessibility solutions.
Though the process may appear intimidating at the outset, remember that there are resources and professionals nearby to lend you a hand. Need to clean out your home before your remodel? 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. 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. If you need to make certain changes to your home because of your disability, your landlord might be responsible for making them.
For more information about a landlord's duty to make alterations for disabled people, see Discrimination in housing. For more information about a landlord's responsibility to do repairs, see Repairs in rented housing. There are various energy efficiency schemes and grants available. The main scheme is a home energy efficiency scheme known as the Energy Company Obligation ECO , provided by the government.
You can get more information about the Energy Company Obligation from Ofgem. You might also be able to find local grants to help with things like insulating your home from Simple Energy Advice. Home improvement agencies HIAs are not-for-profit organisations run by housing associations, local authorities and charities.
They can help people who own their own homes, or who live in privately rented accommodation, and who are elderly, disabled, or on a low income to repair, maintain or adapt their home. You can find more information about organisations near you from Foundations. You can contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you need further advice on home improvements.
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Help with home improvements This advice applies to England Print. Table of contents Help you can get to improve your home Disabled facilities grants Home energy efficiency schemes Home improvement agencies Getting further help Help you can get to improve your home A local authority can offer different types of help with home improvements. Your local authority can help you do one of the following: adapt, improve, or repair your home. This could be in the form of a grant or loan.
It could be by providing labour, tools, or cheap materials to help you carry out the work. It could be by providing details of builders who can carry out the work, or by providing free or low cost surveys, or advice on carrying out repairs buy a new home if it decides that this would be a better way of improving your living conditions than carrying out work on your current home. The help could be in the form of a grant or loan buy a new home, if it has decided to buy your current home. The help could be in the form of a grant or loan demolish your home, or build a new home for you, if your previous home has been demolished.
The help could be in the form of a grant or loan If you, or someone that you live with, are disabled, you might be able to get a disabled facilities grant for adaptations or providing facilities for the disabled person. Which properties your local authority can help improve Your local authority can help improve a building, part of a building, a caravan, or a boat, as long as the property is your home, or it's available for you to live in as your home.
Application forms A local authority can have its own application forms for help, and its own rules about what you have to do to apply for help. Your rights when you apply for help with home improvements Your local authority will have its own rules about the conditions you must meet in order to get help. When you apply for help with home improvements your local authority must do all of the following: make sure that a copy of its rules, including the types of help it provides, are available for you to look at, free of charge, at its main office.
It must also make sure that you can get a summary of the rules by post, although it might charge you for this make sure it follows its own rules when you ask for help give you written information about terms and conditions under which it will help you before it helps you make sure you have had the right advice and information about any responsibilities you'll have if it helps you. For example, if you'll have to pay for some of the repairs yourself, your local authority must make sure you have had advice and information about this take into account your ability to pay towards any help it offers you, before you have to pay anything.
For example, it shouldn't offer you a loan if you can't afford to repay it, or if it offers you a grant but expects you to pay money towards it, it must take into account your ability to do so get your consent before carrying out any works on your home, if you're a home-owner get the consent of everyone who is likely to be affected, if it decides to change work it has agreed to help with.
For example, it would need to do this if it agrees to install gas central heating, but then wants to change this to electric central heating instead get your consent before it changes any of the conditions you must meet in order to get help. If your home is in need of repair, your landlord might have to do the repairs you need. Payment of grants and loans Generally, a local authority does not have to pay a grant or loan within any particular time limit.
If you own your home If you've taken out a loan to make home improvements you might be able to get a government loan to help with interest payments. Disabled facilities grants A disabled facilities grant is a grant that you can get from your local authority for work that is essential to help a disabled person live an independent life.
You can, for example, get a disabled facilities grant for the following things:- making it easier to get in and out of your home, for example, by widening doors or providing ramps making it easier to get to a living room, bedroom, toilet, bathroom or kitchen, for example, by putting in a stairlift, or providing a downstairs bathroom making it easier or safer to get access to your garden providing suitable bathroom or kitchen facilities providing or improving a heating system ensuring your safety, for example, by providing a specially adapted room in which it would be safe to leave you unattended, or by providing improved lighting for better visibility helping you get around at home so you can care for someone who lives with you and needs care.
Applying for a disabled facilities grant Owner-occupiers, landlords, tenants, licensees, and occupiers of some houseboats and park homes can apply for a disabled facilities grant, provided the work is for the benefit of a disabled person who lives or will live in the property. Qualifying for a disabled facilities grant You can only get a disabled facilities grant if the work you need done on your home is:- necessary and appropriate to meet your needs.
Your local authority will normally ask an occupational therapist for their opinion on whether or not you need the work done; and reasonable and practical, given the age of your home and the condition it's in. For example, if your home need serious repairs, it might not be practical to do the work you need. Getting a disabled facilities grant if you live in rented accommodation If you rent your home and apply to your local authority for a disabled facilities grant, you'll need to get your landlord's permission before your local authority will agree to help you.
If your home is in need of repair, your landlord might also be responsible for doing them. Home energy efficiency schemes There are various energy efficiency schemes and grants available. Home improvement agencies Home improvement agencies HIAs are not-for-profit organisations run by housing associations, local authorities and charities. For example, an HIA can: arrange for repairs to be carried out to your home help you to get funding for repairs to be carried out to your home give you advice about a range of issues which affect your living conditions organise the fitting of small aids and adaptations to help you live independently in your home install security measures to your home such as door and window locks, door chains and viewers You can find more information about organisations near you from Foundations.
Getting further help You can contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you need further advice on home improvements. Did this advice help?
If you choose to install a window or view panel though, make sure that it is far enough away from the door handle to not create a potential security issue. Another alternative could be to install an intercom to enable identification of visitors. Lastly, when it comes to doors, minimize the size of doorstops and thresholds, and for doormats, avoid anything too thick that could cause trouble for wheelchairs, and pose a potential tripping hazard for walkers with poor mobility or impaired vision.
Flooring is a less popular aspect of remodeling around a disability or special need, but is one of the most important, and should be a consideration for every room in the house. Find a material that is durable, smooth, relatively non-porous, and firm, and that is not prone to buckling or bunching.
These features will provide a surface that wheelchairs can easily roll on, something that will not be likely to cause slips, trips, or falls, and a surface that is easy to clean. Ease of cleaning can be particularly important in the case of homes with service animals. The least expensive and most durable materials are usually either vinyl or laminate flooring.
Avoid ceramic and stone tile outside the kitchens and bathrooms, and if used at all, make sure it is slip resistant. Wood flooring can work as well, but is generally more expensive, and also difficult to maintain and less resistant to wear.
An additional benefit of harder floorings for those with vision impairment is that they will be better able to hear noises in the home. Another option to consider is cork flooring. Cork flooring is often very stylish looking and easy to clean, and while it is firm and level, it is more forgiving to falls than many of the other flooring types mentioned above. However, due to its soft nature, it is typically not recommended for wheelchairs due to wear issues from the amount of pressure exerted by the wheels.
Regardless of what type of flooring you choose though, it is good to explore all your options and consult an expert to discuss your particular needs. There are many online resources available if you wish to do some additional research on your own. At the most basic level, make sure all electrical controls are as accessible to users as possible.
This may mean finding controls that do not require fine manual dexterity to operate. Be sure to consider all light switches, thermostat controls, electrical outlets, and anything plugged into the outlets. Perhaps less obvious than the locations of switches, but still important, is the location and angle of the lighting itself.
Light locations, angles and reflections that work well for some, may shine directly into the faces of others, so in cases like these, you may need to redirect lighting, or even change out fixtures. Also, for ceiling fans, consider installing longer chains or purchasing a unit with a remote.
While these are the traditional concerns of remodeling, homeowners also have many options to incorporate new technology. Smart home technology focuses on automation, controlled wirelessly by smartphones, tablets, motion sensors, or voice activation. This technology can still be expensive but is rapidly becoming more and more affordable to consumers.
Many of these affordable devices are stand-alone, which means instead of having to do an entire home overhaul at once, homeowners can begin with a system such as a Philips Hue wifi-enabled lighting system or a Nest Learning Thermostat. Starting out with a voice- or app-controlled hub like the Amazon Alexa or Google Home helps homeowners affordably build out their smart home without breaking the bank. Of all the rooms in the house, bathrooms are along the most important spaces to remodel for seniors and people with disabilities.
Doing so not only affords as much privacy and independence as possible, but is also extremely important for safety reasons, particularly when entering or exiting the shower or bath, or using the toilet. Along with the needs for door width mentioned earlier, the room in general should be open enough allow comfortable maneuvering.
Depending on how your bathroom is laid out, this could require rerouting of plumbing. For sinks, it can be better for wheelchair users if the sink is higher than typical, and if the sink has open space underneath. This enables the ability to roll straight up to the sink rather than having to reach or stretch over.
If the existing sink has a cabinet base, it may be possible to remodel the center part of the cabinet and create the same effect without purchasing a new one. Install cabinets in-wall as much as possible to conserve floor space, and so they are not too high to reach.
Similarly to doors, faucets with lever-type handles rather than knobs are easier to use, and it may even be worth investigating touch-operated faucets and other fixtures like those often seen in public restrooms.
Toilets should also have higher than standard seat heights for more ease and less distance traveled when transferring between the toilet and a wheelchair, or sitting down and standing up. Install grab bars on both sides of the toilet of course if possible, and depending on the extent of the remodel, consider rearranging the room to where a wheelchair can comfortably fit near the toilet.
There are many different options for showers and tubs, and the best choice will be dependent on your budget and whether you are completely remodeling or making small modifications. Substantial remodeling solutions include installing a tub with a vacuum-sealed door, enabling direct walk or roll-in entry, or an open shower that is curbless or has a minor curb. If neither of these options is feasible, you can also buy various types of specialized lifts.
Simpler steps that every remodeling budget should include for bathrooms are installing a grab bar, handheld shower head, and lever-handled water valves. Many of the principles that apply to bathrooms also apply to kitchens. Install sinks and stoves that are wheelchair friendly, cabinets at an accessible level, and valves that are lever-handled. For maximum ease of use, also make sure that:. It is also worth exploring ADA compliant appliances, as there are many that may need little to no other remodeling.
For cabinets, installing drawers for cleaning supplies near the sink and cooking utensils near the stove will make these areas much easier to use, and having adequate lengths of countertop is more important than depth. Other options include motorized adjustable-height cabinets, countertops, and sinks. While these sorts of options may be out of the price range for many, if your budget allows, they are worth investigating.
Many of the basic remodeling tips already shared for accessibility and safety will certainly be of value to seniors and people with disabilities. That said, there are also some particular renovations to consider for individuals coping with cognitive disabilities such as an autism spectrum disorder, down syndrome, dementia, Alzheimers, or other challenges that present significant hurdles beyond physical. It is imperative in these situations to take into account how features stimulate all the senses and emotions.
Being mindful of how things around the home feel, look, smell, sound and even taste can make a massive difference in both the lives of those with disabilities, and any loved ones caring for them. Those providing for an individual with disabilities are often the most knowledgeable about the particular obstacles their loved one is facing, but there may also be experts available with special insight to changes you can make around the home.
Because of this, your best next step after making the modifications you have already thought of is to contact a local agency that can assist you through one of the sites mentioned earlier. While the challenges presented in this guide are significant, they are not insurmountable. Here are just a few you may consider:. For other private grant programs you might be able to access, check with your local chamber of commerce, disability advocacy groups, charities, community organizations, and nonprofits particularly those focused on veterans, seniors, or specific diseases and disabilities.
If you cannot get a grant, there are other low-cost ways to pay for these changes to your home. This loan allows you to refinance your current mortgage , rolling the cost of revamping your home into your balance. Make sure you shop around with a few lenders before you apply for a loan, which will allow you to get the best rate.
Grants for accessibility modifications aren't the only ones available to homeowners. There are grants for eco-friendly improvements, grants for veterans, and grants for members of various ethnic or socioeconomic groups. Check with the local government agencies in your area along with federal agencies to see what's available to you. Grant programs usually require you to fill out an application and submit any supporting documentation demonstrating your need and how you would use the money. Be prepared to submit bank documents, tax returns, medical history, and anything else you may need to show your qualifications.
Contact the grant-issuing agency for further information before you apply. Department of Veterans Affairs. Department of the Interior Indian Affairs. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Travis Roy Foundation. Table of Contents Expand. Table of Contents.
Federal Grants for Home Improvements. State Grants and Programs. Private Grants for Home Improvements. By Aly J. Aly J. Yale is the homebuying, home loans, and mortgages expert for The Balance. With over 10 years of experience as a freelance writer and journalist, Aly has also contributed to online media outlets including Forbes, The Motley Fool, CreditCards.
She holds a bachelor's of science in communication from Texas Christian University. Learn about our editorial policies.
Loan amount and repayment terms are limited based on the type of property. Find out about the k Rehabilitation Mortgage Insurance Program. Your local or county government housing department. Find information about energy efficient modification loans or incentives in your state. Review a list of FAQs about tax credits and find rebates near you for Energy Star products and energy efficiency home improvements.
Cash-out Refinance Loans , which can be used to pay for home repairs and improvements. Disabled Veterans Housing Assistance. Seniors can find tips on home safety in the Consumer Awareness Strategies section of the homemods. It has fact sheets and resources such as:. The Lifetime Home, an interactive resource to make your home safer as you age. The homemods. Learning more about the housing improvement grant program. Rural residents can contact a local Rural Development office for information about repair grants and loans.
Reach out to the federal, state, or county government agency that administers the program. Loans are made by traditional lenders. But the government programs help these lenders make loans that they might normally not fulfill. Grants are available depending on your income level and work to be done. Your local or county government housing office.
Finding a good contractor to do repairs and improvements to your home is important. Also, find out how you can report a problem, if you encounter any issues with work you've had done on your home. Before digging on your property, call Utilities will come out to mark the area to help you avoid damaging or being injured by underground utility lines. The timing for processing your request differs from state to state. Some states allow for an online digging request.
To be eligible, a household must have an income below a certain amount. The program's goal is to improve the energy efficiency of homes. Doing so can help families save on heating and cooling costs while staying safe and healthy. You can use WAP to improve your home's heating, cooling, and electrical systems.
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