You may be getting older or have parents who are considered elderly. It might be that you are disabled with mobility issues. For you, making a house accessible is a crucial issue. The need to move around a home without barriers to living is the least we should expect. In an ideal world, we might buy a house that is perfectly designed to meet these needs. There are single-storey dwellings with car park space straight outside, and all the mod-cons included. Equally, if we didn’t want to leave a house we have always inhabited, we would have the money to make the massive adaptations, such as wet rooms rather than bathrooms and stairlifts to access bedrooms.
If you have the ambition to make your house accessible but lack the funds to buy in professional expertise, you may want to undertake some of these DIY jobs as a place to start.
Ramps and slopes
An obvious place to start would be to do away with steps. Most homes and gardens are multilevel, and this proves a challenge for someone in a wheelchair or with mobility aids. Adapting these steps into ramps or slopes will make it easier for people to access all areas of a property. Most new built homes are now built without these internal steps on the ground floor, but you may need to do this work in older properties.
Being able to lift yourself from the sitting position or to steady yourself in places where slips are easy are simple ways of making space accessible. Putting in grab rails in key areas of the home is an easy adaptation to make. The obvious place to start would be the bathroom, and the shower room, where the wet surface offers a hazard and standing up in the bath is difficult. You might also want to consider one close to the toilet – or lifting the toilet seat higher. With some simple drilling, plugs and screws, you can help someone feel safer when moving around key areas of a house. Be aware that if the rail takes the whole weight of someone, you might want to consider more heavy-duty fixings such as bolts.
People can stay in their homes for longer now because of new technologies for the home. Those who might have previously ended up in shared living homes for the sake of their safety can now be monitored from a distance with sensors and cameras. If a person was to fall in the home, help could be sent immediately thanks to the alarms set up with a house. Safety is also heightened thanks to door monitoring systems. A video doorbell connected to a mobile device can allow an individual to answer the door without ever opening it. Other Internet of Things devices can also make a home more accessible. Getting a smart thermostat and smart lighting mean utilities can be controlled from a mobile phone. Rather than travelling to switch on the heating or turn lights on or off, the elderly or disabled person can do it through a central app.
Choose a different flooring
One of the most obvious ways to make your home accessible is by removing carpeting. Carpets keep a home warmer and feel soft underfoot, but they prove a challenge to people in wheelchairs or with push frames. Laying vinyl, tiles or laminate with their smooth surface help to make all areas of the home accessible. While you will want to keep the most trafficked areas clear, you could add some warmth by laying rugs in certain areas of the home. However, it is worth remembering that accessibility means keeping the pathways free, so someone can move around with ease.
The more ambitious projects
It might be that you are willing to get a little more serious with your DIY. If you are looking to increase the value of your home and make it attractive to those who need accessibility, you could do this by widening doors, moving switches and sockets, and adapting the kitchen to make it more inclusive. These projects are likely to take some significant building work but will make a massive difference. Take the idea of making the kitchen inclusive as an example; lowering some of the cupboard tops or putting a cooking hob at wheelchair height offers much greater independence. With cooking facilities at chair height, an individual can look after themselves.
Making adaptations to your home to make them accessible are within most DIYers’ reach. Simple decisions can make a massive difference to people who wish only to live independently.