No one should feel unsafe or uncomfortable in their home. We know beginning the process of modifying your home to be more accessible can be overwhelming, which is why we have created this guide to home remodeling for people with disabilities.
In this blog, you’ll find some of the top projects we recommend, the average price of each modification, and grants to help you finance these projects.
Fair Housing Act
Before diving into what rooms to renovate, we will first introduce the rights you have when you start to remodel. If you are renting your home, it’s important to understand what you can do and what your landlord should allow you to do regarding disability home modifications.
The Fair Housing Act protects people with disabilities from discrimination when they are seeking housing assistance. Reasonable accommodations and modifications fall under this legislation. Reasonable accommodations are “a change, exception, or adjustment to a rule, policy, practice, or service that may be necessary for a person with disabilities to have an equal opportunity”.
Some examples include adding a grab bar to your bathroom, adjusting a payment schedule based on when your income assistance comes, and permitting a service animal in a home that would normally not allow pets.
Where to Renovate
You can find a home accessibility checklist in one of our earlier blogs to help you with specific measurements for each modification. It’s understandable that all renovations may not be able to happen at one time., Below, we have outlined some key renovations for you to consider starting with.
When deciding what rooms to renovate first, it’s important to consider where you spend most of your time at home. Every individual will be unique in where they spend their time. For example, if you have lots of hallways or darker rooms, we recommend starting with lighting.
A simple home improvement for an elderly person and someone with disabilities is adding more lighting. LED lights can help you see more clearly and assist in navigating throughout your home. You may choose to put lighting along hallways, around door locks, railings, or other significant spots within your home.
Throughout all areas of your home, make sure the lights are motion sensors, so you won’t have to worry about first finding the light switch before coming into a dark room. If necessary, light switches may need to be lowered, making them easily accessible from a seated position.
If you’ve read our older blog on bathroom modifications, you know that the bathroom is one of the more dangerous areas in your home. The increased amount of water and tight space makes the bathroom a susceptible room for injury.
Installing grab bars in your shower and near your toilet will help with stability. You may also want to consider installing a longer hose shower head, so it’s easier to maneuver in the shower. Finally, getting motion-detected sink handles will help ensure there are no leaks that could lead to an injury.
Having a comfortable and relaxing bedroom should be your number one priority. For a bedroom remodel, you may want to adjust the height of your bed, install bedside controls, or lift equipment. As with other areas of your home, having clear access ways and decluttering the room will reduce the risk of injury as well.
A recommended height for your bed is between 20 and 23 inches, this may need to be adjusted depending on the individual person. You may also consider an adjustable bed if you have limited mobility or circulatory issues.
If you are looking for intellectual disability remodeling tips, try changing the bedding and wall color to something they are most comfortable with. Neutral colors on the walls and low-intensity shades will give a more calming environment.
Putting a stair lift in your home can allow the elderly and people with disabilities to stay in their homes longer, rather than moving to assisted living. You can install indoor or outdoor lifts, depending on your home.
UDS Accessible Home Modifications offers stairlift solutions for straight or curved stairs. These lifts can also be used to help you access your porch, patio, or deck. Our stairlifts are customizable and tailored to meet your needs and exceed expectations.
You may need to widen entryways to approximately 36 inches to make them more wheelchair accessible. If your entryway has steps, you may also have to add a ramp. Be sure to use a non-slip surface and measure out the slope and length, so it’s easy for users to get up or down the ramp.
If your home has a threshold in an entryway, it may be beneficial to add a small shelf to help steady your balance and reduce the risk of injury. Similar to your light switches, a handle’s height may also need to be adjusted to fit your needs.
As you begin researching disability remodeling options, it can be overwhelming to add up the cost of everything. We will outline the average cost of each renovation, from lowest to highest, and also provide disability grants for home renovations later in the blog.
- Adjusting Light Switch Heights: $50 per switch
- Repainting a Bedroom: $200
- Installing Grab Bars: $248
- Buying an Adjustable Bed: $1,000
- Adding a Stairlift: $2,000
The prices mentioned above are averages for common renovations and may fluctuate based on individual specifications. Consult with an accessible home modification expert to determine the best disability home modifications for you.
Disability Grants for Home Renovation
There are a variety of government and private grants and loans available for you to modify your home. A majority of these grants will require specific employment or income qualifications, so it is important to read through the application before submitting it. As you decipher through the different financial options, our staff is happy to speak with you to assist you in the right direction.
- Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation: These loans are specifically for someone seeking assistive technology devices and services in their home. Technologies could include adapted vehicles, seat lift chairs, ramps, and other home modifications.
- Self-Determination Housing Program of Pennsylvania (SDHP) Home Modifications: This grant program provides home modifications for people with disabilities and older adults, so they may stay independent in their homes.
- Single-Family Housing Repair Loans & Grants: The Home Repair Program provides loans to very low-income elderly individuals to remove health and safety hazards in their homes. The maximum loan is $40,000 and the maximum grant is $10,000.
- 203K Loans: The Fair Housing Act’s 203(k) program allows homeowners to finance up to $35,000 to quickly get cash to pay for property improvements. The total cost of renovations must be at least $5,000 in order to qualify.
- Self-Sufficiency Grants: A short-term financial assistance program, Modest Needs, helps individuals who are in the low-income bracket. You can fill out an application and see if you qualify based on income and employment requirements.
- Rebuilding Together: One of the initiatives through Rebuilding Together is safe and healthy housing for communities. In Pennsylvania, there are local affiliates in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.
Disability Housing Grants for Veterans
There are certain grants and loans that are available specifically for Veterans and Servicemembers. The Department of Veteran Affairs assists you with the finances needed to modify a home to accommodate a disability.
- Specialty Adapted Housing: This particular grant is for someone with a service-connected disability that would like to build an accessible home on land they are planning to buy or already own.
- Special Housing Adaptation: Although the name is similar, this grant will help someone with a service-connected disability to modify their current home to be more accessible.