Living in the comfort of your own home is a luxury many desire to achieve. For the 56.7 million people with disabilities living in the United States, it is imperative that a home provides the necessary support needed to be safe and comfortable in their own home. While many new homes are built with accessibility in mind, traditional homebuilders never really considered this in their design plans. The design of older homes makes it difficult to move around for people with mobility disabilities or those who are aging in their current home, due to narrow doorways, steps, and many other barriers.
Regardless if you are in an older home that needs modifying or considering building a new home, our guide to home modifications will ensure you are informed with what you need to know about making your home more accessible. The true definition of a home is a place of comfort and safety, shouldn’t you feel that way in your home?
What to consider
Your mobility options have changed, you are moving to a new area or you have noticed an opportunity to improve mobility in your current home. Whatever the case may be, here is what you need to ask yourself before you start making any changes to your home:
- Are there tripping hazards on the exterior walkways?
- Is there ample exterior light to prevent tripping hazards?
- Can I see all doorways?
- Is there a first-floor bedroom and bathroom?
- If there are stairs, are they well lit with switches at the bottom and top of the stairs, and rails on both sides?
- Can I reach the cabinets and shelves throughout the house?
- Can I use the work surface in the kitchen while sitting?
- Are the area rugs secured to the floor?
Move throughout the home and ask yourself these questions, look for possible dangers, and then determine which items take priority to improve first.
Ensure well-lit areas
Hallways and doorways can pose potential threats to people with disabilities as they typically lack windows to provide any natural light. Install light switches at both ends of the hallway and at the top and bottom of stairwells to allow access to appropriate lighting throughout the home.
Install safe flooring
Area rugs and carpet runners are a tripping hazard to anyone with a mobility disability. It is best practice to keep them out of your home; however, if you prefer the look of them be sure to secure them with carpet tape or skid-resistant lining.
Modifying the kitchen and bathroom
The kitchen and bathroom are the two most commonly used rooms in a home. Both can present dangerous threats if not modified appropriately. Bathrooms should have grab bars installed for stability. Showers can be widened to allow accessibility for a wheelchair to fit through with roll-in options or walk-in tubs. Sinks can be lowered and vanity shelves removed to allow for more room and ease of use.
Kitchen floor space can be expanded to allow room for wheelchairs when needed. Workspace countertops should be lowered to 30” high as opposed to the standard 36” and faucets can be modified to a single lever in lieu of two knobs.
Cost and financial assistance
The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate against potential homebuyers based on their disability. Buying a home can be a daunting process for anyone, especially for people with disabilities that need to also consider the cost of additional modifications once the home is purchased. There are many organizations and grants available to help make your dream of owning your own, accessible home a reality. A few include:
- The US Department of Veteran Affairs offers two grants. The Specially Adapted Housing Grant and the Special Housing Adaption Grant can be used for the purchase, construction, or modification of a home to those who qualify.
- The Rural Housing Repair Loans and Grants program is funded by the US Department of Agriculture and is given to those over the age of 62 in low-income households. Funds can be used to modify or install new features that allow the home to be safer for residents.
- The Self-Sufficiency Grant from ModestNeeds.Org offers assistance to those that do not qualify as “low-income” but do need assistance. The goal is to ensure those living just above the poverty line do not exhaust all resources modifying a home to be safer.
Scioto Properties is the nation’s leader in housing for people with disabilities. Our experienced team of builders and designers offer a variety of housing options for people with disabilities. Our plans range from traditional to modular and we can easily modify our current plans to fit your needs. Learn more about home modifications here. For questions on how to get started on your accessibility modifications contact us by phone at 614-889-5191 or toll free at 800-930-2892. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org.