The way homes are usually built isn’t always suitable or convenient for people with certain disabilities. Making home renovations to accommodate for these needs or aging isn’t cheap by any means, and depending on how many home structures are involved it can quickly become expensive.
Fortunately there are government programs and organizations out there that offer help to people who are trying to make home modifications to accommodate for their disability. Here are some federal resources and organizations that can help with this. We also included some possible home remodeling projects to make a home more accommodating.
Federal Resources - Programs & Grants
VA Disability Housing Grants for Veterans
The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has two different grants to help homeowners make renovations to homes. The Specially Adapted Housing grant can be used to make changes to your permanent home if you own it and have a service-connected disability. You can get up to $90,364 if you qualify for it. The Special Home Adaptation (SHA) grant can be used to make changes to your permanent home if you or a family member own or will own the home and you have a service-connected disability. You can get up to $18,074 if you qualify for it.
Rural Housing: Housing Repair Loans and Grants
The Rural Housing Repair Loans and Grants program provides grants for homeowners with very low income that they can use to repair, improve, or modernize their homes. People who are over the age of 62 are eligible for these grants. The grants can be used to repair or improve a home to remove safety hazards. Homeowners can receive grants of up to $7,500.
Assisted Living Conversion Program (ALCP)
The Assisted Living Conversion Program (ALCP) is aimed at nonprofit owners of housing complexes that provide grants to them to convert their dwelling units into an Assisted Living Facility (ALF) for their elderly residents. ALS are specifically designed to better accommodate people with disabilities that can are able to live on their own but need assistance for normal life activities like eating, bathing, grooming, and other home activities.
Local Organization Resources
Rebuilding Together is a non-profit organization that helps make crucial home repairs and home modifications in underserved communities. You can find a list of their affiliates in your local area from their website to find help for a much-needed home renovation.
Habitat For Humanity
Habitat for Humanity helps renovate homes for people with disabilities to make them more commendable for them. Apart from just renovating, they also help people repair their homes to meet certain safety standards and get rid of any hazards. They are a worldwide organization that has affiliates all over the U.S. You can use their website to find local affiliates that may be able to help you in your area.
Disability Friendly Remodeling Suggestions
There are quite a few renovations that can be done around the house. Here are some of the most common projects to make a home more disability-friendly. Don't forget to invest in quality power tools if you're doing these projects yourself.
Remodel The Bathroom
Remodeling a bathroom is one of the most impactful home renovations for people with disabilities. It helps people with disabilities maintain their privacy as well as making it easier to do normal everyday things. Renovating the entire layout of the bathroom to make it more open and maneuverable is an option. Lowering the sink so it’s easily accessible if someone is in a wheelchair, and changing out faucet knobs for levers makes things more convenient.
Some changes that can be done to the toilet include adding safety grab bars on the sides of the toilet and making enough room for the wheelchair to be placed by it. In regards to showers and bathtubs, replacing the current setup with a walk-in shower is an excellent idea. Just like with faucets, replacing the shower/bathtub knobs with levers is more accommodating.
Widen Doorways & Doors
Right off the bat, widening doorways in order to accommodate wheelchairs is a step in the right direction. As a rule of thumb, 36 inches is the typically recommended width for the average wheelchair. Widening doors on the other hand might pose a more complicated challenge. It’s still possible but additional features like special hinges might be needed. Although you can remove doors without changing the frame, you might also want to remove it.
With regards to doors, removing knobs and replacing them with door pulls at a lower than usual height is recommended in order to make opening them easier. Be wary of the doormat you use for your principal door as it can cause issues with wheelchairs if it’s too thick. The size of the doorstops should also be taking into account as they might get in the way of wheelchairs and might be a hazard for people with impaired vision.
Change Flooring For Disability Friendly Flooring
While not too often considered, flooring can play a huge role in how disability-friendly a home truly is. It’s important to have floor material that is capable of handling wheelchairs constantly riding on it without it buckling or bunching up. If a floor bunches up this can lead to tripping accidents for people with visual impairments or other disabilities. Sometimes if the floor isn't leveled, this might not be due to the floor itself but a sign of foundation issues.
The best types of disability-friendly flooring that are also non-slip flooring are vinyl and rubberized tiles. Vinyl plank flooring has almost no seams which helps prevent dust or other allergens from gathering up, although it does have its own specific issues if not installed properly. This type of floor is especially an excellent choice for homes with services dogs, as it also requires less cleaning. Rubberized tiles provide excellent traction for wheelchairs and also reduce the dangerous impact of falls when compared to other floors. Just ensure you use the right flooring nailers and other tools to prevent any problems from arising.
Modify Stairs & Steps
Some simple modifications that can be done to stairs is adding a railings for added support. Ramps either small or large in size can be added to the outside of your home to make home entry accessible. Adding a stairlift so that wheelchair users can go up the stairs is another possible home renovation. Luckily, there are many different modifications you can make to a staircase to make it perfect for someone.
If you're having a parent move in to your house, then you might also want to consider adding more living space and making a whole new second floor to your house.
Renovating a home to be more disability-friendly can be a challenge, but it’s possible and well worth the cost. It's not always easy or simple and it can take time and research to get it done. With the resources and home project ideas listed above, we hope modifying your home to be more accommodating is much easier now.