When to Remodel for Accessibility
Will you be able to get around your house if your mobility is suddenly limited? Or will you need to remodel for accessibility? How long will you be able to stay in your own home as you age? These are growing concerns for millions of Americans who hope to delay moving to assisted living as long as possible.
Fortunately, designing for access - also known as "universal design" - is becoming increasingly popular as homeowners embrace wider doorways, roll-in showers and other design features that are not only functional and accommodating, but also attractive. You might want to consider remodeling to make your home more accessible if:
How to Remodel For - An elderly relative is moving in with you, or someone in your family has a chronic illness or degenerative condition.
If someone who lives in your house already has a condition that makes it hard to move, see or perform other basic functions, there's no time like the present to start planning for a more accessible home. Get to know this person's specific needs and what they might also need in the near future. For example, someone with a degenerative illness like ALS might be fine with wider doors to accommodate a wheelchair right now, but later they will likely have other needs that require advance planning, like space for a hospital-style bed. A simple ramp would go a long way to helping a family member with declining vision avoid tripping on small sets of stairs that aren't immediately visible, such as a set of one or two steps leading to a sunken living room.
You want to be proactive about accessibility upgrades instead of waiting for an emergency.
Whether we like it or not, everyone ages. Mobility and vision impairments are two of the most common issues associated with aging, and as such, it's smart to upgrade now instead of waiting until you're already having issues. Remodeling is most likely cheaper than paying for assisted living any earlier than necessary, so consider bringing in a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) to see how to make your home more accommodating.
You wanted to remodel anyway.
If you were already going to remodel a part of your home, you could make it easier to maneuver while you're at it. Accessible design has come a long way in the last couple of decades. Remodeling may actually increase your resale value. You'll not only be prepared for your golden years, also you'll be able to get around in case you sustain a temporary disability like a broken leg.
In addition to hiring a CAPS consultant or another accessibility expert, check out the design standards for the Fair Housing Act (which covers multifamily residences) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (which covers public spaces). Even though neither applies to private homes, these are two of the best resources available when it comes to making sure your home is ready to meet any future accessibility needs. Use the two design standards as a checklist for what to consider in your own home, then follow up with your CAPS remodeler with questions and ideas. With advance planning, you can increase the accessibility and worth of your home.