Welcoming a family member left with a permanent disability is nowhere easy. Most people who don’t have any disability but suddenly have to live with one can feel different emotions. They can feel angry, remorseful, guilty, or in denial. Adjusting to their new life can be heart-breaking, and all you can do is to offer your support by making life less complicated.
Most of the time, you will be left with no choice but to make certain home improvements to make their lives a little easier. Preparing the house can be a bit complicated especially if you don’t know where to start. You can face many challenges while trying to make the house into a more accessible place for your new disabled loved one. You can end up clueless on what projects to take, how to cover for the costs and get torn between whether DIY-ing or hiring the pros.
Prioritizing Which Projects to Tackle First
Numerous suggestions are out on the internet telling you what projects to invest in to make your home more accessible to handicaps. In reality, what projects you should invest in will depend on the kind of disability your loved one now has to live with. You will also need to consider if they are temporarily disabled or will now live with a disability for life.
Let’s say your loved one is now wheelchair-bound for life. For people with such mobility-impairment, your first projects can include removing barriers and making the house wheelchair-accessible. This is to ensure they can easily get into the house and access their bedroom, the kitchen, bathroom, living room, hallways, and other common areas.
Aside from removing any unnecessary clutter in hallways, common areas, and their bedroom, you will need to make sure the doors and hallways are at least 32 inches wide enough to fit more than their wheelchair. The hallways need to be big enough for their wheelchair to pass and move around. Don’t forget to consider how they can easily enter the house despite them being in a wheelchair. You have the option to install a ramp or a wheelchair lift instead.
Financing the Home Upgrades or Modifications
One usual cause of headache people needing to modify their home for their handicapped loved one’s sake is financing the projects. Remodeling costs can skyrocket even before you get to tackle the important parts. The costs will depend on the type of projects you will take. For instance, a wheelchair ramp can cost between $939-$2,935 depending on the materials used by the pro. Grab bar installation, on the other hand, can cost between $60-$360.
Financing the home modification can be tricky especially after you pay for their healthcare costs. The good news is, you don’t need to handle all the fees on your own. Several national programs and non-profit organizations in the U.S. aim to help households with disabled members pay for the necessary modifications.
State accessibility programs, for instance, help homeowners who can from low-income households pay for home improvements and upgrades to make their house more accessible for disabled members. There are also private disability grants paid by private corporations, non-profit organizations, and community organizations.
You can apply federal disability grants to cover the costs of your home modification. These are different from your regular home improvement loans since there is no need for you to pay them back. There are disability-related home improvement grants for veterans, American-Indian, and Native American Tribes and for low-income homeowners who live in qualified rural parts of the U.S.
For homeowners who fail to secure home improvement grants, you can still try other ways to finance the home modifications. For instance, an FHA 203(k) loan allows you to rehabilitate your home or use a single loan for a home purchase and in paying for its repairs. Home Equity loans, on the other hand, allow you to tap on your home equity and use the funds for whatever purpose you need, including home improvements.
Finding the Right Contractors
Certain home modifications will require you to work with the pros. Among these projects are those meant to make your home more handicap-friendly. The last thing you need is to DIY a project or use a cheap contractor and put your loved one at greater risk.
When looking for contractors, find local ones that already have a background in tackling similar projects. You should already have an idea of what modifications you want to accomplish. Shop for contractors, interview each one of them, check their portfolio and references and learn about their contract before signing.
Your goal is to make sure your home is safe, convenient, and accessible to your loved one. As much as possible, you would want them to retain their dignity and independence. Find a home improvement grant, program, or loan that can help you finance your project. Invest in the right home modifications, and find reliable contractors to get the job done.