Remodeling your home to make it more accessible for a disabled family member (or, simply better suited for “aging in place”) allows you to stay in your home longer and makes it easier for everyone to perform their everyday tasks. But where do you even begin?
Creating a wheelchair-friendly home generally involves removing barriers and making daily necessities more accessible. It might involve some DIY tweaks to a few rooms or could require hiring a contractor and making more extensive renovations.
While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) doesn’t cover private, single-family homes, it offers helpful guidelines you may want to keep in mind as you work on making your home more accessible.
What follows is a simple (and ADA-compliant) guide to home modifications you may want to make for someone who is disabled, including costs involved and financing options.
How Much Do Handicap Home Modifications Cost?
How much you’ll spend on renovations to make your home accessible will depend on your accessibility needs, your home’s current state, and the size of your home.
According to Angi (formerly Angie’s List), the cost of making your home more accessible can range anywhere from $751 to $8,553, with $4,652 being the national average. If you opt to do significant home renovations, however, costs can run considerably more. Installing an elevator, for instance, can set you back $2,500 to $60,000.
It’s a good idea to figure out which renovations you want to do and then work with a contractor to price them out. You can then adjust the scope of the project based on your budget.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the renovation costs that may be involved in making your home more accessible.
|Accessibility Alteration||Average Cost|
|Widening a doorway||$700-$2,500|
|Adding grab bars/handrails||$100-$500 each|
|Lowering thermostat height||$75-$300|
|Installing an accessible shower||$1,500-$7,500|
|Converting a tub into a walk-in shower||$350-$1,000|
Types of Accessible Home Renovations
What follows are some key accessibility modifications that can help give aging parents or family members who require help getting around via wheelchair, cane, or walker more independence within your living space.
Widening doorways is crucial to accommodate wheelchair users. The ADA requires doorways to have a clear opening of 32” when the door is open 90 degrees for wheelchairs to pass easily.
Widening a doorway can run $700 to $2,500 if you require new doors or if you need to create larger openings. However, you may be able to provide accessibility for a lot less by installing offset or swing-clear hinges to allow the door to swing clear of the entryway,
2. Door Handles
Round door knobs can be difficult to open from a wheelchair. To make it easier for those with mobility impairments, consider installing lever door handles. These handles are easier to grip and operate, providing improved accessibility throughout your home.
Converting a traditional bathtub into a roll-in shower with a wide entry and grab bars can greatly enhance accessibility. The ADA recommends that your shower stall be at least 36” by 36” for wheelchair accessibility. Adding a fold-down shower seat and adjustable handheld showerhead (the ADA recommends a 60” hose) further improves safety and convenience.
The price of retrofitting an existing shower or installing a new one can run anywhere from $2,000 to $7,500
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Instead of a shower, you might consider a handicap-accessible bathtub. The ADA requires clear floor space in front of the bath, a seat in the bath at the head of the tub, along with grab bars and a 60” hose.
Converting a bathtub into a walk-in tub can run anywhere from $350 to $1,000
If your home currently has stairs you need to climb to get inside, you’ll need to build a ramp if you want it to be wheelchair accessible. Ramps should have a gradual incline, non-slip surfaces, and handrails for stability. Per the ADA, the width of the ramp has to be a minimum of 36”.
The cost of constructing a ramp will depend on the entrance layout of your particular home, but you could expect to pay between $1,000 and $4,000.
Choosing smooth and slip-resistant flooring materials throughout the house is essential for individuals with mobility aids or wheelchairs. You’ll want to remove any carpets or rugs that could pose tripping hazards or make it hard for wheelchair users to get around. If you use carpet, it should be no more than half an inch. Plusher carpets make it difficult for wheelchairs to maneuver.
Installing non-slip flooring generally runs around $3 to $22 per square foot.
7. Accessible Kitchen Renovations
Modifying the kitchen can significantly improve accessibility. Lowering countertops, installing pull-out shelves, and adding accessible sinks and appliances can make meal preparation easier for individuals with disabilities.
Converting a kitchen to comply with the ADA guidelines can run $9,000–$40,000. To cut costs, you might consider creating a dedicated area for accessible cooking and meal prep, leaving the rest of the kitchen as-is.
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Bathrooms should have enough room for a wheelchair to maneuver inside and room for a wheelchair user to move their chair next to the toilet to transfer themselves from the chair to the toilet easily. There should be grab bars mounted securely to the walls to facilitate the process and increase safety.
Depending on mobility needs, you might consider installing raised or comfort-height toilets and adding a bidet attachment. Installing a modified toilet can run $400 to $1,000.
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Accessible sinks should have open space underneath to accommodate a wheelchair. Installing lever-style, push, or touch-operated faucets and ensuring adequate knee clearance further improves accessibility.
Installing a new sink and faucet can run $100 to $1,000
Financing Options for Home Modifications for the Disabled
The cost involved in making home accessibility renovations can add up quickly. And, you might not necessarily have the funds you need just in your savings account. Fortunately, there are a number of funding options, including grants and loans, available. You may also be able to deduct some of the costs on your taxes.
Here’s a look at some of your options.
Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grants
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grants for eligible veterans with disabilities. These grants provide financial assistance to modify or build homes to meet their specific accessibility needs.
IRS Deductions for Home Accessibility Renovations
Home renovations are not generally tax deductible. However, accessibility modifications to your home can be included as medical expenses if they are medically necessary and you itemize your deductions. Keep in mind that the deduction amounts must be reasonable, and if the amount spent increases the value of your home, they cannot be claimed as a medical expense.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) also allows disabled people and their friends and family to save money to pay for the disabled person’s expenses in ABLE accounts. You’ll want to consult a tax profession or refer to the IRS Publication 907 to learn more about the specific requirements and limitations.
Options to Finance Accessible Home Renovations
Various financing options are available for accessible home renovations. Here are some you may want to investigate.
A personal loan is typically an unsecured loan (meaning you don’t have to put an asset to secure the loan) that can be used for a wide variety of purposes, including home renovation projects. The advantage of this type of loan is that you don’t need to have built up equity in your home to qualify for financing.
Some personal loans are actually specifically designed to cover the cost of home remodeling (they are often called home improvement loans). Either type of personal loan can provide the necessary funds for home accessibility renovations. It’s a good idea to compare interest rates, terms, and repayment options to find the best personal loan option for your project.
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If you’re aged 62 or older, you might want to consider a reverse mortgage. This type of mortgage allows seniors to borrow against the equity in their home. These funds can be used for home modifications, and repayment is typically deferred until the homeowner moves or passes away.
Just keep in mind that reverse mortgages often come with relatively high fees that are rolled into the loan. Also, your equity in your home will likely decrease, leaving you with less in your estate to leave to your heirs.
Fannie Mae and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
Fannie Mae’s HomeStyle Renovation Mortgage and the FHA’s 203(k) Rehabilitation Mortgage Insurance Program offer financing options for purchasing or refinancing a home that needs accessibility renovations.
Fannie Mae’s HomeStyle program is available for buyers who want to get money to buy and renovate a home in one loan or to those who want to refinance their home loans and get cash for renovations. The FHA’s 203(k) renovation loan is similar to Fannie’s but has more flexible qualification requirements.
Refinancing an existing mortgage can provide additional funds for home accessibility modifications. By taking advantage of lower interest rates or extending the term of your loan, homeowners can free up cash for renovations. Keep in mind, though, that extending the term of your loan can increase the total cost of your mortgage.
Certain nonprofit organizations provide grants or low-interest loans for home accessibility renovations. These organizations focus on supporting individuals with disabilities and improving their living conditions.
One you may want to look into is Rebuilding Together . This is a national organization dedicated to helping homeowners build, rebuild, or modify their homes. They have a history of working with families to make their homes more accessible.
Other helpful resources include:
• Local Easter Seals chapters
Many states have Medicaid programs that cover home modifications for disabled or elderly people. These programs are often used for people who are currently in nursing homes but may want to return to a private home. The money could help them make home modifications to ensure their safety at home. Eligibility requirements and coverage vary by state, so it’s important to research available programs in your area
Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)
If you own your home, you might be able to use your existing equity to get a home equity line of credit (HELOC). A HELOC is a revolving line of credit (backed by your equity in your home) that works in a similar way to a credit card. You can borrow what you need for your home accessibility renovations as you make them (up to a set credit limit) and only pay interest on what you borrow.
Creating an accessible home through thoughtful renovations provides independence and a higher quality of life for individuals with disabilities or mobility limitations. Making changes through your home, such as widening doorways or installing ramps, can significantly improve accessibility.
Financing options like grants and loans, along with possible tax deductions, can help make these renovations more affordable. It’s important to explore all available resources and consult with professionals to determine the best financing solution for your handicap home modifications.
If you think a personal loan could be helpful, SoFi’s home improvement loans range from $5K to $100K, and you may be able to get same-day funding. Plus, there are no fees required.
Does Medicare or Medicaid cover accessible home renovations?
Medicare does not cover home modifications. However, Medicare Part B does cover durable medical equipment (such as hospital beds) if it’s medically necessary for use at home.
In some states, disabled individuals who are eligible for Medicaid may benefit from Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) programs. You will need to check with your state if it offers HCBS benefits.
How do I make my home ADA compliant?
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) seeks to ensure that persons with disabilities have equal access to — and convenience in — public spaces via a range of codes and recommendations. While the ADA doesn’t cover private, single-family homes, it offers helpful guidance for making your home accessible. Following the Guide to the ADA Accessibility Standards when making modifications could also be helpful for your home’s resale.
Are ADA renovations tax deductible?
ADA renovations may be tax deductible as medical expenses, provided they are medically necessary and you itemize your deductions.
Just keep in mind that the amounts must be reasonable and any expenses incurred for aesthetic or architectural reasons cannot be deducted. Also, any amount you spend for accessibility modifications that increase the value of your home cannot be claimed as a medical-related expense.
Are there home loans that cover handicap home modifications?
Yes. The USDA’s Single Family Housing Repair Loans & Grants programs provides loans to very-low-income homeowners to repair, improve or modernize their homes or grants to elderly very-low-income homeowners to remove health and safety hazards.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 203(K) Rehab Mortgage Insurance program allows you to finance (or refinance) a mortgage and include the costs of home improvements in your balance.
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