I often get asked, “What exactly is an accessible home”, or the cousin to that question, “Do I need an accessible home?” To answer those questions, it really hinges on a variety of questions. I remember speaking with one of my clients about how they became disabled and they informed me that they had a harder time getting around, and one day, they slipped in the shower and became disabled.
It is stories like these that increase my passion for education on home safety or home accessibility. This is why I do a free home consultation for people that are having a harder time getting around or are getting older. Falls are the number one cause of unintentional death in America. Below, I hope to give advice that will help in determining what you want to do next on your home.
The best way in answering these questions are to look at some questions that I have received and my response to those questions.
Q. Last year my husband was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. He does get around, but he is very sore. We don’t have any steps in our home, is there still a reason you should see us?
A. Yes! Absolutely, there are so many hazards in the home and the bathroom is actually said to be the most dangerous room in the home.
Q. If I do accessibility modifications on my home, won’t my home feel like a hospital?
A. I would say this is the most popular question I receive, and it simply isn’t true. When you are talking about making a home more accessible, you are typically talking about modifications like, ramps, widening doorways, making floors continuous and getting rid of floor transitions, adding hand rails, adding night lighting or improving lighting, switches and faucets, or grab bars in bathrooms. All this depends on the circumstance, but it may also include lifts or adjusting counter heights and special cabinetry. These things, when done right, increase home value and can look really attractive. Designs and things like grab bars have come a long way in recent years and can really be a welcome addition to your home.
I understand that your home is your oasis. If you are planning on aging-in-place, this is especially true. That is why I strive to stretch your dollar as far as it can while combining comfort, safety, and your to make your home a place you want to spend several years.
Q. I am not looking to have a remodel done, but I do plan to age-in-place. When should I have you come out and take a look at things?
A. The sooner the better on this, besides, I don’t charge anything for a consult. You may be relatively young, but every house needs to be maintained yearly. The sooner we talk about this, the better idea you may have on when to do certain maintenance items. An example would be if you have flooring that you need to replace, I may be able to advise you on flooring and a plan that would stretch your dollar as far as possible.
Q. I am young with young kids, but I care for my relative that is elderly or disabled. They will be moving to another family member or facility in about a year, so I don’t want to put a lot of money into my home. What is your recommendation?
A. I don’t charge for consultation, and I will likely be able to come up with a plan that will minimize cost. The cost that there will be will likely increase the value of your home.
Q. Are there ways to get home modifications paid for if they are required to access my home? Is there a way to write modifications off on taxes?
A. This question really depends on your specific situation, but let’s suppose that you do not have a disability insurance that you acquired before the disability, or many other unique circumstances. The main way one might get a modification paid for is through a grant, if they are available at the time.
As for taxes, the short answer would be yes, you can write them off. However, there are requirements that include, your gross income, modification cost, medical expenses, and how much the modification added to the value of the home. I would highly recommend speaking with a tax professional for more information.
Q. My wife was just recently confined to a wheelchair. We have a two-story home that we never dreamed of moving from, but this changes everything. Is it best to move to a single level that is already modified, or should we modify our home?
A. To answer this question with certainty, I would need to see the home, but it is safe to say that modifying your home would be best. There are stair lifts available, so being a two-story is really not a big deal.
Q. Do you do accessibility modifications for children? My child was in an accident and now I have to do everything for him.
A. Yes, I do. I work with all ages and stages. I can meet with you and we can discuss how to make his life, and your life easier.
I hope this has been informative. As you can see, I look at a number of things when completing a home modification. I strive to really make sure my client is happy, comfortable, and most important, safe. If you have any questions you would like to see added to this blog, let me know. You can email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also give me a call at (907) 854-1772.