Rolling Without Limits

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Mobility-Friendly Home Remodeling Tips
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Mobility-Friendly Home Remodeling Tips

The time has come to modify the house to make it easier and less dangerous for those with limited mobility to travel between rooms. The remodeling process is, of course, easier said than done. The renovation can weigh heavy on both time and finances. However, making independent mobility possible and providing a more comfortable, maneuverable living space within a household is worth the amount of time and money spent on remodeling.

Upon every remodel there is a carefully laid out plan with direct requirements, especially in a home designed for those with limited mobility. Below is a brief guideline to some basic in-home necessities, along with the financial means of getting it done.

The Entrances:  The front and back entrances will be the first as far as priorities for remodeling homes for accessibility. Depending on the location of the house and if there is a stoop that leads up to a front door, it may be necessary to install a ramp. When building a ramp, it needs to follow ADA Guidelines and standards. The average ramp provides a wide pathway, handrails, non-slip surface and a cover. For those with congested exterior space, a vertical platform lift is a better option. A standard wheelchair is 24-27" wide, which means doorways should be a minimum of 32" wide.

The Stairs: If your home has a staircase, you’ll want to have a stairway lift installed. This is necessary if you want to give a loved one with limited mobility full access to the house and a feeling of independence. A proper stairway lift should swivel, allowing the operator to maneuver safely while getting in and out of the chair.

The Bathroom: The bathroom will likely take the most work (and money) to remodel in comparison to any other part of the house. Depending on the original size of the bathroom, it may need to be expanded, but with some creative redesign many smaller bathrooms can easily become safer, and more accessible for those with mobility needs.

For starters, the bathroom doorway must be at least 36” wide for wheelchair access. When widening doorways and increasing maneuverability in the bathroom, it may be necessary to relocate both the sink and the toilet, which can also lead to changing the plumbing (though still a cheaper alternative to widening the walls of the bathroom). The toilet may need to be raised, lowered, or be mechanical for easy transfers, and the sink may also need its height to be modified. Also, consider stand up shower remodels to allow access with minimal stepping effort.

The Kitchen: Standard kitchen remodels will start by lowering countertops, installing appliances that are easy to reach, and providing roll-out storage units. Another alternative is putting together a limitation-friendly accessible sink, countertop, and drawer in a separate corner to be utilized as a personal kitchen.

The Expenses: Unless there was some prior long-term budgeting plan in place, most remodeling expenses typically don’t come out of pocket. Many remodeling projects require loans, and the financial burden of a hefty loan can be stressful, but there are several options to paying off debt.

Earnest, a data gathering and financial advice blog, found that the average household in the United States had credit card balances totaling $16,748 in 2016. Their advice on how to effectively pay off debt is listed in three steps:

Step 1: Make an Inventory of Your Debt

Step 2: Refinance Loans if Possible and Prioritize Debt

Step 3: Strategize Your Debt Pay Off: Snowball or Avalanche

There will be some situations when getting a new place entirely may be the most fitting option. According to Homebridge Financial Services, higher loan limits have just been announced for 2018, which means some new home buyers will benefit with higher loan options and will be able to afford the necessary space and furnishings for a suitable limitation-friendly home.

Saving for repairs out of pocket will usually be the cheapest option, especially if the project is relatively small in scope. A personal loan or credit card can be a convenient choice as well, just ensure the projects are spread out enough to keep the finances in line and to avoid deep debt.

Making a home completely handicap-friendly doesn’t have to be difficult, both physically and financially. Ask for help. When communities get word of a facility that cares for those with physical limitations being built, it’s not uncommon for people to help raise money and even help with the physical labor. Asking neighbors and local publications to spread the word can really help benefit the future of a limitation-friendly home, whether it’s public or personal.

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