Home Remodeling and Modifications for People with Special Needs

If you’re looking to modify or remodel an existing home or accommodation to make it accommodating for people with special needs or you’re a senior or disabled, you should factor in considerations, such as specific disability limitations (getting up and down the stairs, requiring a wheelchair to move around…).  Also, you should think of the available funding programs,   legal rights and cost, to name some, before getting started. For answers to some of the questions you have in mind about the project, find a useful guide in the following.

Federal Resources for Veterans, Seniors & People with Disabilities

Federal Resources for Veterans, Seniors and People with Disabilities

The United States offers different programs for assistance for veterans, seniors, and people with special needs. Check out the following for some of them.

  • Veterans: For housing grants aimed at modifications, check out this page for the New VA Rules for Specially Adapted Housing Grants.
  • State Level Info Resources: Visit the National Council of State Housing Agencies to check out the offers of local specific housing departments.
  • Low Income: For funding home modifications, check out this organization for useful information.
  • Senior Citizens: You can get additional home remodeling assistance for independence. Check out this page to learn about the Rural Housing: Housing Repair Loans and Grants page at Benefits.gov.

The Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act remains as the most useful law regarding disability remodeling. It states that the housing provider should not refuse any reasonable changes to common use areas and the home itself. It also states that he/she should not refuse any reasonable accommodations to policies, rules, services and practices if needed for the housing’s equal use.

The Fair Housing Act

There are also many programs to choose from if you’re looking to remodel a home for someone with a special need or disability. For example, if you’re looking to buy or renovate or remodel a home, the Federal Housing Administration’s Section 203(k) is a useful resource.

On the other hand, a mortgage program also exists – Streamlined 203(k) – if you’re looking for minor improvements and remodeling.  Then, there is also the Title 1 Home Improvement Loan to combine with the Rehabilitation Mortgage.

To choose an FHA Loan,   consider how much financing you need and how much equity your home has, along with other factors. If you cannot decide, visit the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which provides counseling agencies and offers an online portable to locate an office near you.

Finally, you might also want to file and claim a medical tax deduction for remodeling or renovation related to medical needs or disability needs.

Important Federal Laws That Could Impact Home Modifications

These three laws prohibit any form of discrimination in the programs, which use public funding or federal funding.

  • Title II of the American Disabilities Act of 1990
  • Age Discrimination Act of 1975
  • Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504)

This law outlines the accessibility requirements related to building modifications, design, and construction and leasing using federal funds.

Architectural Barriers Act

  • Architectural Barriers Act of 1968

In addition to these programs, the Department of Veteran Affairs offers the Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) Grants and Specially Adapted Housing (SAH). *Eligibility requirements vary in each program.

Veterans can also apply for Cash Out Refinance Home Loans, enabling homeowners to take cash out of their property’s equity for home improvement.

Senior citizens and their loves ones can also make use of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) site to find financial assistance.

The Remodeling Process

When you have the funds and provisions prepared, you might to seek help from an installation or remodeling expert specializing in disability, senior and people with special needs remodeling project.  Also, consider your needs and assess your space to start with the modifications.    An easy route is to create a checklist of what you need, including safety concerns and accessibility features.

Remodeling and Designing

home design for disabled

Your home’s accessibility is the first thing to take care of in-home remodeling.  You also have to consider healthy people when planning to make your home accessible for everyone.  Thus, you must take the most sensible approach by seeking help from a remodeling expert.

All the ideas come together with the design process. Be sure that all the needed details are a part of the design. You may want to visit this Purdue University page for help on how to build an accessible home.

Next, consider the remodeling needs of your home because some homes don’t need major updates.  In fact, you can apply removable or temporary modifications. For a useful source, visit the National Association of House Builders or this home modifications page from ElderCare.gov.

Things to include in the process of design and remodeling:

  • Home surroundings and landscape
  • Doorways and yards
  • Sinks
  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchen
  • Lighting and electricity
  • Flooring
  • Tubs, showers, and toilets

Temporary vs. Permanent Changes

Temporary vs. Permanent

All factors considered, you should also think about how long you will stay in the home or if you have plans of moving soon. If you have plans relocating in the future, making major changes isn’t necessary. But then, permanent changes are long-lasting and can be beneficial now and in the future

Renovation Costs

The following is only an estimate of how much it cost to repair per room or part of a home for people with special needs.

  • Shower stalls: $2,000-$6,000
  • Wheelchair ramps: $1,500-$3,250
  • Bathroom: $18,000
  • Handicap bathroom: Around $9,000

Tub replacement:  Around $6,000

Some Tips

  • Check on the adaptations done by other residences in the community.
  • In remodeling estimations, you should factor in materials, labor, consultations and permits, along with other alternative accommodations while constructions are ongoing.
  • Make sure that you’re remodeling based on your unique needs.
  • Check on this remodeling cheat sheet to understand things better.

Final Thoughts

Expect the challenges you will meet along the way in remodeling your home to accommodate a person with special needs better as well  as if you’re that person looking to make your home more accessible for you and everyone in the household.

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