Home improvements for people with disabilities

For a person living with a disability, creating a safe space at home can mean a lot of extra work and money. The task of outfitting a home for a disability can seem daunting and even impossible. However, the need for a functional and pleasant home is essential for a higher quality of life.

Some common home improvements for people with functional disabilities include:

  • wheelchair ramps
  • roll in the shower
  • Changes to the kitchen counter
  • Widened doors and hallways

Even small changes in a disabled or aging person’s home can make a big difference in everyday life: smooth floors for a wheelchair user or lever door handles for someone with arthritic hands.

How much do disabled conversions cost?

A person with physical disabilities may have many different needs for their home depending on the type of disability they are living with. Here are some of the most common home remodels, as disability and senior-friendly renovations are officially called. Of course, the costs mentioned can vary depending on where you live and geographical region.

ramps A ramp allows for easy access into the home, eliminating steps that may be difficult for wheelchair users or those with walking disabilities $1,400 – $3,000
pocket doors Installing pocket doors means eliminating a door and hinge that could get in the way when opening. $500 – $4,250 per door
lever handles Grasping a doorknob can be difficult for someone with arthritis or a disability that affects dexterity. Lever handles are much easier to use. $178 – $420 per button
wide doors Some doors may need to be widened to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers. If you can’t afford to widen every door, consider widening the most commonly used ones. $300 – $2,500 per door opening
flooring If you are disabled, you need a non-slip and softer floor covering. You should also avoid carpets for wheelchairs and walkers as they can snag and cause falls. Opt for uniform rubber floors throughout the home whenever possible. Up to $6.05 per square foot
Brighter lighting Elderly seniors or those with visual impairments may have difficulty seeing clearly in their home with typical lighting. Brighter lights can be an easy fix for better visibility around the home. $3 per pear
Smooth exterior walkways Exterior walkways can easily become a fall hazard for those with poor eyesight or those with walking disabilities. If possible, eliminate gravel paths or even out uneven payments that can cause trips or falls. Varies depending on the type of walkway
Telephone access If help is needed in every room of the house at all times, it’s a good idea to have a phone nearby in every room. Consider adding phone lines to every room in the house in an emergency. $108 – $269 per jack
Electric stairlift If it is impossible to eliminate the need to go upstairs, but stairs are difficult for the resident, consider purchasing an electric stairlift to safely move between floors. $2,000 – $20,000
ramps Ramps inside or outside the home can provide easy entry into the home and eliminate steps that may be difficult for wheelchair users or those with walking disabilities. $50 – $6,000
roll in the shower Roll-in showers offer wheelchair users autonomy when bathing. From $1,200 – $2,800

Home modifications for children with disabilities

Children with disabilities may also need home renovations to create a quieter and more accessible space. You may have a child at home with an autism spectrum disorder, a sensory processing disorder, a physical disability, or a chronic illness.

Before making any changes to your home, think about your child and their needs. You should also think about what you can afford and what changes in the home will be most helpful.

The table below lists some common conversions for children with disabilities (particularly autism) and their costs.

Lighting for sensory questions Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) means you are either overly sensitive to external stimuli or less sensitive to external stimuli. In any case, SPD can mean that normal lighting can cause problems. Noise from light fixtures can also bother a child with autism spectrum disorder. Consider replacing lightbulbs or fixtures if your current lighting is causing problems for your child. $3 per pear
sound insulation A quiet place is strongly recommended for children with ASD and SPD. Soundproofing a room or the whole house can be helpful. Since children with ASD can sometimes be noisy, sound insulation can also help to be considerate of the neighbours. $300-$45,000 per room depending on room size and materials used
gates and fences Peace of mind for parents of children with disabilities is just as important as creating a calm and welcoming space for the child. Having the right gates and fences to protect your child can help you feel calmer as a parent. $1,600 – $4,000 depending on size and material
parquet floor For children with sensory issues, carpet can cause many odor problems. Carpets contain odors and stains that can make life difficult for children with these types of disabilities. Consider switching to hardwood floors to get rid of lingering odors. $11 – $16 per square foot, installed
surveillance devices If you’re concerned about being able to watch your disabled child at all times, it might be a good idea to invest in a security system or monitoring device that lets you see your child even when you’re away from home or in another room . You can also install an alarm system that will go off when certain gates or doors are opened. $750 – $2,000
Durable everyday objects With disabilities that may affect your child’s dexterity or ability to remain calm, it is only natural for objects such as glasses or plates to fall. If your current dinnerware is fragile, invest in plastic that will last longer if dropped. Varies per item

How do I pay for home renovations?

Looking at the price of home renovations can get overwhelming, but there are many financing options to consider when renovating homes for the disabled. Both federal and local governments, as well as non-profit organizations, have funding opportunities available for these types of renovations in many cases.

federal funds

Federal law protects the rights of people with disabilities and allows for accessible home options, including when renting. Consider the following laws and resources when looking for financing to renovate your home:

  • Fair Housing Act:
    This law prohibits discrimination against individuals in housing-related jobs because of a disability. If you are a renter, this law requires your landlord to allow you to make reasonable modifications to your home so that you can make your home accessible for your disability.
  • Federal Housing Administration (FHA):
    The FHA provides resources for homebuyers and homeowners in the United States. The FHA offers different assistance programs by state, so research what’s available in each area.
  • USA.gov: The website lists programs that can help you finance your home renovations.

Local funding and legal resources

Funding may also be available at the local level. Research the following options:

  • Local city or state government
  • Local non-profit organizations
  • Local advocacy groups to help you fight for your right to assistance when you have been denied it

Additional Resources

If you have researched national and local options and still need funding, consider the other options that may be available. You can apply for a home equity loan or home equity line of credit. If you only have small financing needs, you can also consider a personal line of credit.

There are many financing options available, so research all of your options when considering what financing is available to you.

Pay for remodeling at the Home of Disabled Veterans

Veterans can use a variety of special options to pay for home modifications needed because of their disabilities. You may consider these government-funded programs:

  • Special Adapted Housing (SAH): This program provides grants to Soldiers with serious injuries that can be used to purchase, build, or remodel a home customized for their needs. Currently, veterans can receive grants of up to $101,754.
  • Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) Grants: Another option for veterans with disabilities, the SHA grant can be as much as $40,983 in 2022. This grant provides assistance to veterans to remodel or purchase a permanent home that will allow them to continue living independently.
  • VA Home Loan Payout Refinance: If you do not qualify for one of the above grants, consider VA home loan payout refinance. You can replace any existing home loan with this type of loan if you qualify. This type of loan does not require a down payment and can help you get extra money for the renovations you need.

Closing remarks on improving the home for people with disabilities

For any home improvement job for the disabled – or elderly – start by assessing the needs of the person. Sometimes the assessment of a contractor or interior designer (there are those who specialize in remodeling), or an occupational therapist (OT) can be helpful.

Think about what changes would help them live better, function more autonomously, and be more comfortable in their homes.

Once you know what you want to change, think about your budget and the options you have to fund your renovations. Some are also tax deductible as medical expenses.

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