The Price Tag on an Accessible Home
Accessibility in the home is something most disabled people never take for granted. It is not a one-size-fits-all solution, which makes it difficult to create a model accessible home. While creating a home accessible for an ambulatory wheelchair user will look one way, creating a home that is accessible for someone in a power chair might look different, and creating an accessible home for someone that is vision impaired or Deaf can look very different as well.
Therefore, it's very important to understand the user and their needs when creating an accessible home. The home itself, and whether it's a new build or something being retrofitted will also factor into the equation. For example, making a two-story Colonial wheelchair accessible may mean installing an elevator, while a single-story can be made wheelchair accessible with just a few ramps.
That said, there are some general updates that can benefit many homes when you're trying to create either a Universal design or a more accessible home. Just be sure to remember that if you are creating a home for a specific individual, to take their needs and opinions into consideration whenever making modifications.
Barrier Free Bathroom
A barrier free shower is also a great addition to many accessible homes. Without a barrier, it's easier for wheelchair users to transfer, for elderly and mobility impaired individuals to enter and exit safely, and even for some vision impaired individuals to more safely navigate the space. Another option is installing a walk-in tub with doors that open outward, allowing the user easier access. Some walk-in tubs even offer therapeutic features like whirlpool jets.
Ramps can dramatically increase the accessibility of many homes. Whether it's a single step from one room to another, or a larger set of stairs to get up to the front door, stairs can be an obstacle that many people can struggle with. Adding a ramp can mean that the building is much more accessible.
Project cost: Ramps can cost between $400 and $4,000 to build, depending on the material and the number of steps in question.
Installing Grab Bars
Grab bars can be invaluable additions to an accessible home. They can also be used anywhere—while many people focus on the bathroom, adding grab bars to seating areas in kitchens, beside beds and sleeping areas, or simply along hallways can make navigating the home easier.
Project cost: Grab bars come in many shapes and sizes, and can be installed for around $250 for a group of three.
Anyone that uses mobility aids will tell you that a wider doorway is a more comfortable doorway to get through. Walkers, crutches, and wheelchairs all require a little more space than an abled person may take up going through a doorway.
Project cost: The cost to widen a doorway is around $700. If you want to flatten out a threshold at the same time, expect to add another $100 to $200 to the project.
Elevators and Stairlifts
If the home has two stories, an elevator or a stairlift can be installed to help people reach the upper levels safely. Which one you choose will ultimately be dependent on space and how the user navigates their home. For example, some heavy power chairs may be too big and bulky for a stairlift, making an elevator the better solution, while some crutch users may find that a stairlift is easier to navigate without taking up the excess space in their home.
Project cost: Elevators cost around $40,000 to install on average, while stairlifts cost closer to $5,000.
Make Need-Based Change the Priority
Creating an accessible home isn't always going to be easy or easily affordable. But by making need-based changes the priority, it's often possible to start making a home much more accessible with just a few alterations to start. Tackle the biggest issues first, then move down the list to the smaller everyday problems you or the user face. At the end of the day, having a home that is accessible and fits your needs can be priceless no matter where you live.
About the Author:
Sarabeth South is a home design expert writer from Fixr.com living in New England. Born with a rare type of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, she grew up as a part of the disability community and fully believes that the future is accessible.Pre-Register for Abilities Expo Today...It's Free!