As 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 for many. Yet, the need for a home that is functional and enjoyable is essential for a higher quality of life.
Even small changes in the home of a disabled or aging person can make a big difference for living well in everyday life. Consider the difference that wider doorways can make for someone in a wheelchair or how much lever door handles can help someone with arthritis.
Home modifications for people with physical disabilities
A person with physical disabilities could have many different needs for their home depending on the type of disability they are living with. Common physical disabilities can include:
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Cerebral Palsy
- Acquired Brain Injury
- Spinal Cord Injury
Some common home modifications might be helpful for a person with disabilities. These modifications may vary in cost depending on your home and the cost of installation.
|Home modification||Purpose||Average cost (materials and professional installation)|
|Ramps||A ramp allows for easy entry into the house and eliminates steps that can be difficult for those in wheelchairs or with difficulty walking||$1,400 – $3,000|
|Pocket doors||Installing pocket doors means eliminating a door and a hinge that could be in the way when opened.||$1,000 – $3,500 per door|
|Lever handles||Grabbing a doorknob can be difficult for someone with arthritis or any disability that affects dexterity. Lever handles are much easier to use.||Around $125 per knob|
|Wide doorways||To make space for wheelchairs and walkers, some doorways may need to be widened. If you can’t afford to widen every doorway, consider widening the most used ones.||$300 – $2,500 per doorway|
|Flooring||Anyone with trouble walking will need flooring that is slip-resistant and softer. You’ll also want to avoid carpets for wheelchairs and walkers as they can get caught and cause falls. Opt for uniform rubber flooring throughout the home, if possible.||$6.40 per square foot|
|Brighter lighting||Aging seniors or anyone with vision impairments may have difficulty seeing well in their home with the typical lighting. Brighter lights can be a simple fix for better vision in the home.||$3 per bulb|
|Smooth exterior walkways||Exterior walkways can easily become falling hazards for someone with poor eyesight or difficulty walking. Eliminate gravel walkways if possible or level out uneven payment that may cause trips or falls.||Varies depending on the type of walkway|
|Phone access||When help may be needed at any moment in any room of the house, having a phone nearby in each room is a good idea. Consider adding phone lines to each room of the house in case of emergency.||$108 – $266 per jack|
|Electric stairlift||If it is impossible to eliminate the need to go upstairs but stairs are difficult for the resident, consider getting an electric stairlift for a safe way to travel between floors.||$4,000 – $8,000|
Each physical disability requires different modifications for a functional home. Even two people with the same physical disability could have different needs for home renovations. Sometimes the assessment of a specialist such as a contractor or Occupational Therapist (OT) can be helpful in determining these individual needs.
Home remodeling for children with disabilities
Children with disabilities may also require home renovations for a calmer and more accessible home. You may have a child at home with autism spectrum disorder, a sensory processing disorder, a physical disability or a chronic disease.
Before you make any changes to your home, consider your child and their needs. You should also think about what you can afford along with which changes in the home will be the most helpful. If you can’t afford to make every change you would like, make a plan for your home that incorporates these most helpful renovations.
The table below lists some common home modifications for children with disabilities and their costs.
|Home Modification||Purpose||Average Cost (materials and professional installation)|
|Lighting for sensory issues||Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) means you are either overly sensitive to outside stimuli or you are less sensitive to outside stimuli. Either way, SPD can mean regular lighting can cause problems. Noises from light fixtures can also bother a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Consider changing out light bulbs or fixtures if your current lighting causes issues for your child.||$3 per bulb|
|Ramps||Ramps inside or outside of the house can allow for easy entry into the house and eliminate steps that can be difficult for those in wheelchairs or with difficulty walking.||$1,400 – $3,000|
|Soundproofing||A quiet space is highly recommended for children with both ASD and SPD. Soundproofing a room or your whole house can be helpful. Since children with ASD can also be loud sometimes, soundproofing may also help be considerate of neighbors.||Anywhere from $600 – $4,000 per room depending on the size of the room and the materials used.|
|Gates and fencing||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 proper gates and fences to keep your child safe can help you feel calmer as a parent.||$1,600 – $4,000|
|Hardwood flooring||For kids with sensor issues, carpet can cause many problems with smell. Carpet holds odors and stains that may make life more difficult for children with these types of disabilities. Consider switching to hardwood flooring to get rid of lingering odors.||Around $11 – $15 per square foot|
|Monitoring devices||If you worry about being able to watch your disabled child at all times, it may be a good idea to invest in a security system or monitoring device that will allow you to see your child even when you are not home or are in another room. You could also install an alert system to go off when certain gates or doors are opened.||$750 – $2,000|
|Durable everyday items||With disabilities that may affect your child’s dexterity or ability to remain calm, it is only natural that items like glasses or plates will get dropped. If your current dining ware is fragile, invest in plastic ones that may last longer if dropped.||Varies depending on the items|
|Roll-in shower||If your child is in a wheelchair but wants autonomy in bathing, you may want to consider a roll-in shower. This can allow your child to bathe on their own.||$1,200 – $2,800|
Home modifications for disabled veterans
Veterans often must live with disabilities as a result of their service. Veterans may suffer from PTSD, blindness, loss of limbs or burn injuries, just to name a few. In these cases, home renovations can be helpful for a fuller life.
Many home modifications may be helpful, depending on the disability. Some common helpful renovations for disabled veterans are:
- Wheelchair ramps
- Roll-in shower
- Kitchen modifications for accessibility
- Widened doorways and hallways
Whatever modifications may be needed, consider which options would be most helpful for day-to-day life.
Payment options for disabled veteran home modifications
Veterans may take advantage of a variety of special options to pay for home modifications they may need because of their disabilities. They can consider these government-funded programs to make the changes they need:
- Specially Adapted Housing (SAH): This program offers grants to service members with severe injuries which can be used to purchase, build or remodel a home adapted for their needs. Currently, veterans can receive grants up to $100,896.
- Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) Grants: Another option for disabled veterans, the SHA grant may be up to $20,215 in FY21. This grant offers help to veterans modifying or buying a permanent home that will allow them to continue to live independently.
- VA cash-out refinance home loans: If you don’t qualify for either of the above grants, consider a VA cash-out refinance home loan. You can replace any current home loan with this type of loan if you qualify. This type of loan requires no down payment, and it may help you get some extra cash to pay for the renovations needed.
How to pay for home modifications
Looking at the price tag for home renovations can get overwhelming, but there are many funding options to consider when making home improvements for the disabled. Both federal and local governments, as well as non-profits, have funding options available for these types of renovations in many cases.
Federal laws protect the rights of people with disabilities, allowing options for having an accessible home, even when renting. Consider the following laws and resources when looking for funding for your home renovations:
- Fair Housing Act: This law prohibits discrimination against anybody in housing-related activities dues to 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 offers resources for homebuyers and homeowners in the United States. The FHA offers different assistance programs by state, so research what is available in the applicable area.
- USA.gov: This website lists programs that may help you fund your home renovations.
Local funding and legal resources
Funding may be available at a local level too. Research the following options:
- Local city or state government
- Local non-profits
- Local advocacy organizations to help you fight for your right to assistance if you have been denied the help that is legally yours.
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. You may also consider a personal line of credit if you only need a small amount of funding.
Many funding options are available, so research all your options when considering what funding is available to you.
For any home improvements for the disabled, start by assessing your needs. Consider which renovations would help you live a better daily life and feel more comfortable in your home.
Once you know what you want to change, think about your budget and what options you have to finance your renovations. Explore all your options and make a plan based on your final budget.
Appropriate home renovations can help any person living with a disability live a better and more enjoyable life.