For most us, buying a home is one of the biggest financial investments of our lives. For those, however, who have to live with some kind of disability or a limiting medical condition, this process is not an easy one.
These brave people have to deal with the fact that the vast majority of the world wasn’t built to accommodate their needs. They have to make a lot of sacrifices not just for their everyday life, but even when they want to build a house or remodel one. Luckily, there is help available for those who know where to look for it, and if you need solutions (funding and other resources) hopefully you will find this guide very helpful.
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Things you need to know before you start looking for those resources
A home remodeling is not easy. That is especially true when we are talking about accommodating the life of a physically challenged person. Before even thinking about starting the works, it is best to identify what kind of federal resources could apply for you. These funds are available for`veterans, seniors and people with medical disabilities.
Each and every remodeling can be different, but it should always start with the identification of these resources. Naturally, if a living situation changes drastically or you have to move to a different location basically overnight, there is good chance you will have to free up some money. Even if these situations, you could be reimbursed for the costs later. Let’s start with the place where you can get the valuable information that could make the whole process easier.
Information about Federal Legal Provisions
The best place to look for essential information about laws, regulations and different funding programs that could help you out, is the disability.gov government website. Whether you want to know about the laws that would apply to your certain situation or you wish to inquiry about a program that could help you out, chances are that you will find the necessary information here.
Even if you find a program like that, there is a chance that you will have to raise those funds without federal help, only to be reimbursed later. If you are leasing a house, there are also laws and regulations designed to protect your best interest. The house provider for example, cannot refuse reasonable accommodation. They will have to adhere to certain rules and policies.
The Fair Housing act is one of the most recognized regulations when it comes to housing. It involves various housing regulations including but not limited to accessible light switches, proper thermostats and other measures regarding wheelchair accessibility (grab bars and reinforced bathroom walls).
There are additional laws and regulations that can come in handy in a situation like that:
Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504)
Inquiring about these rules and learning their significance can be an extremely fruitful investment on your part. Not only you can possibly save thousands of dollars, but you will also know your rights and every provisions you may apply for in the future.
You are ready for the purchase
If you want to buy a new house or remodel one with disabled needs in mind, the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) Section 203(k) can help you. Not only that, but the FHA also has a 203(k) Mortgage, and a Home Improvement Loan program as well, both fine-tuned for different needs and situations.
Claiming medical tax deduction can also be an option, but in those cases the applicable rules and regulations are fairly complicated, might requiring the help of a financial advisor. In addition to these available provisions, there are also available resources for more specific groups.
- For veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) can be a big help, as they have several programs developed for the needs of former army veterans with some kind of physical limitation.
- There are even specifically housing-related grants called SHA (Specially Adapted Housing) and SAH (Special Housing Adaptation).
- Veterans can also take advantage of Cash Out Refinance Home Loans, where the home owner can take the funds out of their house’s equity in order to use it for remodeling purposes.
- For the even more specialized remodeling needs, there is the Low Income Energy Assistance Program.
- People can apply for the funds to later use them for all kinds of weatherproofing and/or repairs of similar nature.
The eligibility requirements are fairly straightforward with this one, the owner of a household can apply for it if they have an elderly or disabled family member, or kids younger than six years old. So while helping the disabled people as well, this provision can be provided for those living with elderly and/or young children as well.
There are other, sometimes locally available provisions
Since you could potentially apply for locally available resources as well, contacting a resident agency might be the most effective route. If you are not sure which services to choose, these websites could all potentially help you.
- ILRU Directory of Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and Associations
- The National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services’ list of statea gencies
- The U.S. Administration of CommunityLiving
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
- Aging and Disability Resource Center Locator
Available funding outside of the United States
Many other countries in the world have similar programs to support those in need. Wherever you live, if you are physically challenged there is a good to excellent chance that you will be eligible for some kind of housing program. Now whether that will help you buy a new home or to get the funds for a remodeling is obviously up in the air, but the main message here is to always seek help. While the governments obviously don’t do everything in their power to turn their countries into fully disabled-compatible, when it comes to provisions the choices are plenty. The Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund lists basically every available resources on their website.
The work process
Once you have identified the available funds and provisions you could use and possibly even acquired them (remember, sometimes you will have to use your own money which you will get back later), the next logical step is to hire an expert for the remodeling or installation. There are professionals out there who specialize in disability remodeling.
Disability Remodelling Experts
These pros will be able to create a home environment that’s not simply ideal for disabled people, but livable and can be enjoyed by people living with or without disabilities. That’s very important, because most would rather want to live in a comfortable and real home, not a living space that has been completely changed by someone who never really did jobs like that. The importance of experience is immeasurable.
UDCP (Universal Design Certified Professional)
If you can find a professional who is a member of the UDCP (standing for Universal Design Certified Professional) there is a very high probability that you found an expert with vast experience when it comes to disability remodeling and home building. Regardless of your final choice, make sure that you explore your options before arriving to a conclusion.
Once you have the expert you were looking for, also make sure to study the contract and possibly bring in a lawyer to help you understand what you getting yourself into. Once you factored everything in, looked up the possible regulations, inquired about funds that you can take advantage of, and also managed to find someone who you feel could be exactly right for the job, the next stop is to decide on the specific changes you require in your living environment.
Your home needs to be accessible
Naturally, the accessibility of your home has to be the first order to take care of. It doesn’t matter how comfortable your home is (or at least it lessens its significance) if you cannot comfortably (and safely) access it. You also have to take healthy people into consideration, as ideally you would want your home to be easily accessible by everyone. Building a huge ramp for example, doesn’t really make sense. The sensible approach is to identify the best course of action with the help of your hired expert.
Landscape & Home Surroundings
This will include the evaluation of the landscape, as well as all of your home’s surroundings. The most common disability that requires changes like these, are mobility issues. Naturally, stairs wouldn’t really work in that case (while there are wheelchairs capable of climbing stairs, you shouldn’t have to do that in front of your home), so two realistic alternative remains, ramps or lifts. Lifts tend to be more expensive than ramps. Before the purchase, make sure that you found a reputable vendor and talked it through with the expert as well.
Yard & Doorways
Making the yard more accommodating is also an important part of the exterior works. The next step is the consideration of doorways. The general thumb of rule is to select a width of 36 inches, as this will allow basically any wheelchair to comfortably and effortlessly move through. In any case, going any narrower than 32 inches is definitely not recommended. Widening doors can also apply in this situation, and they represent an excellent solution when something with size needs to be taken inside.
Wide or swing clear hinges work great in these scenarios. If the room supports it, removing he door altogether can work as well. Naturally, a bathroom is not an ideal space for this as we usually require privacy there. A sliding door is another solution. The other important factor is handle height.
A disabled person will generally appreciate lower locks and handles but of course this depends on other circumstances as well, like the height of the person or how flexible they are. There are disabled people who has excellent reach for people who has to live with physical challenges. A lower than average handle height might not be something these people would need or even want.
The question of the flooring is also an important one to answer, preferably before the works start. Finding a material that’s durable and firm is key. One that is prone to buckle or even break is not something that can ever be a good fit for someone living with a disability. A surface that is easy to roll on is simply essential, and it also doesn’t hurt if they are easy to keep clean. There are materials like that, vinyl or laminate flooring tends to work wonderfully for these purposes. Wood could work as well, but it is usually a more expensive choice.
When it comes to the installation of lamps and other electrical devices, the most important question is the location of the controls. Naturally, they need to be easily reachable, making it easy for any disabled person to control them. The angle of the lights is important as well, as what would be ideal light for a fully able person, could shine directly into the face of someone who is living with a disability.
Bathroom accessibility is another important factor, as these spaces tend to be among the most important ones in any living environment. Bathroom accidents are the most common home accidents even among fully able people. Your bathroom can be modified or redesigned for walker and wheelchair access.
For wheelchair users, having a sink that’s higher than usual can be beneficial. Lever-type accessories tend to work better compared to the ones that come with knobs.
Toilets, showers and tubs
Toilets should be higher than standard seat heights as well. The installation of grab bars is also a must have accessory for these applications. If you have the budget for it, installing a tub with a vacuum-sealed door that allows direct entry is an excellent choice, but naturally not the cheapest one.
A lot of the basic principles that were true for the bathroom situation, will be just as fitting for the kitchen. The cabinets need to be at a reachable height, and it is the best if the kitchen accessories are installed at convenient places.
US Department of Housing & Urban Development
How To Claim Medical Deduction for Homeimprovements
Housing Grant for Disabled Veterans
Purchase & Cash-Out Refinance Home Loans
Eligibility- VA Loans
Single Family House Repairing
Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
Universal Design For All
Disability Flooring Types
Disabled Smart Homes