How to Adapt Your Home for Wheelchair Use on a Budget

Updated February 22nd, 2022

Over 15% of US households have a member with a physical disability yet only 6% or 6.6 million units are accessible dwellings. Hence, for the 2.7 million wheelchair users in the United States, living in a non-adapted abode is a challenging task.

The good news is it is possible to renovate an existing structure to make it easy for a person with disability get in and out of the house and become autonomous. For those on a budget, making a home accessible for medical device users is doable without making a big hole in your pocket.

Build an Accessible Entrance

One of the most important points to consider is to create an accessible entrance for a wheelchair user. If you are doing home modifications for a child or individual with cerebral palsy, the cerebral palsy guide suggests removing obstacles that make it difficult to walk or move in a wheelchair. That means an entry or exit point in the house with no steps or a way to get around existing ones.

As a temporary solution, use portable ramps to enter the house using a wheelchair. Depending on the type of ramp, you can get one for as low as $100 or as high as $2,000.

If you decide to build a ramp, remember to construct one with a maximum slope of 1in of rising for every 12-inch length for hand-propelled devices while power chairs should be 1.5in of rising.

The national average cost is $2,500 and up to $6,000 on the high end. It is also possible to re-grade the site of your home to make a ground-level entrance costing between $1,000 to $5,000 according to Home Guide. It is vital though to ensure that regrading does not compromise your foundation or encourage water buildup.

For those with deeper pockets, installing an outdoor lift or elevator is another option to create access to the house for individuals in a wheelchair. The modification will cost $2,531 to $5,784 based on Home Advisor figures.

Rework Doorways and Bathrooms

Wheelchair users need at least 32in of opening to roll in through a doorway. To make an existing doorway wider, remove the door temporarily, install swing-away hinges, or reverse its swing to open it wider. If there is woodwork around the door, strip off the material so that the doorway is broader. Widening a door will cost between $300-$2,500.

To gain access to the bathroom, you can replace an existing door with a pocket one, take out a door and use a curtain for privacy, and reverse its swing making it open out instead of into the bathroom. Base cabinets can also be removed to make knee space under the lavatory. Instead of a tub, a curbless shower is a convenient solution making it accessible and easy to use. It will cost you $2,500 to $5,000 depending on the size and choice of tiles and fittings.

Home modifications to accommodate the needs of wheelchair users are possible without spending huge sums of money. Creating an accessible entrance and adapting doors and bathrooms are two ways to alter a home for wheelchair users.

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