November 17, 2022
Handicap-accessible housing makes living for elders or those with disabilities much smoother. However, many people have some unfavorable beliefs opposing making their homes handicap-accessible.
But many of their beliefs don’t take a look at the bigger picture. Therefore, many concerns people have aren’t much to worry about in the long run.
Today, we’ll explain five of the most common misconceptions people have about handicap-accessible homes.
The first, and probably the most discussed, myth is that revamping the home so that it’s accessible is expensive. It sounds like several thousands of dollars on installing new, pricey fixtures or expanding certain areas.
Some very expensive home addition examples include adding elevators or stair lifts or redoing the bathrooms and kitchen. HomeAdvisor states that elevators can cost over $60,000 and lifts $5,000. Widening hallways for more walk space can easily cost over $40,000.
People believe that to make a home handicap-accessible, they have to have a huge budget. It’s hard to imagine that there could be anything done for a decent cost.
Of course, the actual cost of the revamp strongly depends on what additions or installations are necessary. A few could very well be super expensive.
But not all changes have to break the bank. And some projects can be done for cheaper than you think. You could potentially get tax deductions for home modifications that serve to help one with medical needs or disabilities. Some tax-deductible modifications include:
One way to save on costs is to shop for slightly used or recycled material. Compare those costs with the prices you’d see at Ikea or Home Depot (they have quite a few budget-friendly options).
Another way to save is to not do a full remodel, but make some changes instead. For example, a common bathroom remodel is to replace the floors with slip-resistant surfaces. Instead, buy non-slip covering and mats to lay across the bathroom floor.
Example two: instead of replacing an expensive bathroom sink, remove the cabinets from underneath. This allows wheelchair users to access the sink without obstacles. You can replace the cabinets with shelves in other spots in the bathroom.
Some people think that adjusting for accessibility will make the home look ugly. Therefore, they’ll probably have a harder time selling it.
Years ago, Shaun Heasley shared that accessible homes were hard to sell even with a bunch of key features. Such reports have caused the belief that accessible remodeling makes the home hard to sell.
Sure, it may have been hard to sell accessible homes in the past. But society has evolved and recognizes the importance of aging in place.
Read: Aging in Place; Why Universal Design is the Future of Home Building
Accessibility features actually are a high sell nowadays. Some realtors specialize in selling accessible homes. Sure, people could build accessible homes from the ground up. But with multigenerational living on the rise, selling homes with accessible features gives sellers a competitive edge in their housing market.
Even without selling, adding accessible features makes it easier to adjust for lifestyle changes: mobility issues due to injury, wheelchair or walker need, difficulty reaching or walking, etc. Accessible features either add value to your home or save you money in the long run.
People think that for a home to be accessible, it has to be big. And that’s a fair thought.
One key element of accessibility is space. There has to be space to move around. If a space is too narrow to navigate, one can’t move around as smoothly as one would like to. If too many objects or fixtures are in the way, it limits the mobility of a person with a disability.
For there to be more space, that would take expanding or removing walls, which are expensive projects.
Yes, hallway expansion and wall removal are expensive. It takes going into the home’s structure and modifying it to add space.
But you don’t have to fork out thousands of dollars to create space in your home. Instead, think about what you can remove instead of what you have to add. Removing things in your home will create space as well, and likely save you money from home modifications.
An example we mentioned earlier is removing the cabinets from below the bathroom sink. The same can be done for the kitchen sink. You can also remove objects from the hallways to add space; most of the walkway space in hallways is taken up by small furniture anyways.
Another example is adjusting the height of things instead of completely replacing them. You can lower kitchen cabinets, doorknobs, handles, and light switches. This will make it easier for those up in age to reach for stuff without hassle.
Tasks like these don’t require you to increase space and they cost much less than wall removals to make these changes.
Senior living is often a good option to place those with several medical conditions or those who need highly frequent medical attention. There are places like nursing homes, hospice care, or adult day care for those who want to save a little money.
These facilities have medical professionals that will care for the person’s disability and help them live life regularly. Therefore, the need to make one’s home accessible becomes low.
If the price to make your home accessible scares you, the price of assisted living should scare you more.
A study by Genworth Financial shows that the national average cost of a semi-private nursing home room is $94,900 a year; that’s roughly $260 per day without insurance. On top of that, your loved one will likely be stuck feeling institutionalized or lacking any privacy.
In-home senior care is a much better and more affordable option to care for aging loved ones. And by making your home accessible, your loved ones can still maintain their privacy, avoid the institutionalized feeling, and you can still check on them often without having to drive to a facility.
Even if caring for a loved one becomes too much to bear, pairing universal design with in-home care would be a much more effective option than senior/assisted living.
Read: Why Every Home Needs to Feature Universal Design in 2022
In your life, you may not see the need for accessible features in your home. You’re in great health, you’re at a good age, you don’t have any body issues, and everyone in your circle is the same. At first glance, it may feel like a waste to make your home accessible.
It’s not like you know anyone who struggles with some kind of disability so why should you make the change?
Don’t be narrow-minded.
Life can change in an instant and when you least expect it. Plus, just because it doesn’t look like anyone you know has a disability doesn’t mean they don’t have one; they could just be good at hiding it.
Even then, you need to think about your future self and family. Yes, you’re young and healthy now but you won’t always be young and fully healthy. As you age, it’ll slowly become more difficult to navigate; your reaction time or maximum stretchability will all gradually decrease.
If you plan to age in place, adding accessible features in the home lets you seamlessly live in your home without even feeling like you’re incapable of doing simple tasks.
Whether it applies to your life now or not, you can see that handicap-accessible homes are very necessary. Don’t believe any of the myths.
If you’re ready to upgrade your home, our team of home improvement experts is ready to upgrade your home and keep it looking beautiful.
Heitmeyer Building & Design is a Construction company with over 100 years of experience in commercial construction and residential construction located in Pickerington, Ohio.
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