Jackie Waters is the creator of Hyper-tidy.com where she offers tips on creating a tidy, happy, healthy home through focusing on sustainability and practicing simplicity.
6 Easy, Green and Affordable “Home Mod” Projects for Accessibility
Your home is your castle—or is it? When your home seems to be working against you and you’re craving more accessibility, it can seem a bit more like a prison than a respite. Upgrading your home to become more accessible, whether via the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standard or not, comes with a slew of benefits. If you or someone in your home needs, or would benefit from, accessible features, the house will become a home. If you’re planning to sell the property, baby boomers are moving into the senior living category at a fast clip, and accessibility is more in demand than ever.
From increasing the desirability and value of your home to making it cozier for you, not all home modification projects for accessibility need to break the bank. Here are a few to consider:
1. Adding grips and handrails in the bathroom. These “handy” tools can be added next to toilets, bathtubs, in showers, and just about anywhere else in the home where getting up and down can be a struggle. They can be permanent solutions, or there are a variety of removable yet very sturdy options that allow you to change and customize placement as you wish. Disabilities, chronic conditions, temporary injuries and sheer age can all make getting up and down a challenge. Increase safety with these very low-cost add-ons.
2. Consider “comfort height” toilets. The ADA calls “comfort height” between 17 – 19 inches, whereas standard toilet heights are about 14 inches. As you can see, there’s a big difference! Toilets are a surprisingly affordable upgrade, and you can add on a low-flush option if you want to green up the home, too. The higher a seat is, the lower a person has to squat, therefore it’s easier to get up and down.
3. Build a ramp for exterior stairs. Ramps aren’t just for wheelchairs. Many people find it difficult to climb up and down stairs for a variety of reasons. You don’t need to replace stairs with a ramp, but adding one in addition to stairs can make accessing the home much easier. The cost of a ramp can vary drastically depending on numerous factors including grade, materials, labor costs and current conditions of the home. Shop around to get the best quote.
4. Swap out your sink for a better height. The average counter is 36 inches high, which can work for some people but not all. It’s, of course, very costly to get new cabinets and counters, but swapping out a sink is a more affordable option. Whether you need a shorter or higher sink for accessibility, you can often achieve that without changing the counter or base. While you’re at it, you can add on water-saving features for a greener kitchen.
5. Get an ADA-compliant dishwasher. A lot of people are surprised to discover there’s such a thing as an ADA dishwasher, but they can make a big difference with both accessibility and eco-friendliness. Plus, dishwashers are on the more affordable side of appliances. An accessible dishwasher always has buttons on the front and sits 14 – 38 inches above the floor. That’s a big range, so the real goal is ensuring it will sit at the right height that’s comfortable for you or the person who needs a compliant dishwasher. As an added bonus, you’re likely to get a greener dishwasher these days than what you currently have installed.
6. Put a nonslip mat in the tub and shower. This one’s extremely basic and cheap, but a common oversight. Slips and falls can be very dangerous, especially for the elderly, and wet skin on a slick surface is asking for trouble.
Making your home more ADA-friendly is a great way to increase safety, comfort and even the value of your home. Get creative, and always see if you can green up the upgrade while you’re at it.