According to the Department of Veterans Affairs Statistics at a Glance, in 2014 there were 3.95 million veterans receiving Veteran Administration (VA) disability compensation in the United States. Any individual with a disability needs a home to accommodate their special needs so they can live safely and with independence, however it is not always that easy to find available or affordable, accessible housing.
Wounded veterans returning from war often face many challenges, perhaps none so frustrating as physical hurdles in their own homes. For those who have lost limbs, the floor plan and features of their homes often present a daily obstacle course—simple tasks like preparing food or taking a shower are nearly impossible. Depending on each person’s disability, the various needs for access varies greatly.
What’s more, not unlike our disabled Veterans, there are also more than 76.4 million baby boomers (40% of the population) in the United States, with increasing numbers who are cecoming wheelchair bound as they age.
Finding the right house to be adapted to accommodate the disabled can be difficult, and finding one that has already been made accessible is like a needle in a haystack in most markets! Many people with disabilities, including Veterans, simply give up on finding housing for disabilities thanks to a shortage of accessible housing in this country, which is expected to grow worse due to the aging of the graying baby boomer population over the next few years.
There are a number of factors involved when rebuilding an existing home to make it accessible, including modifications, retrofitting, and affordability. And it is not always simply as easy as building a ramp or a more spacious wheelchair accessible master bathroom and/or bedroom. Wheelchair accessibility involves more than just adding a ramp and a roll-in shower stall. Many times the bathroom needs to be enlarged substantially. Some existing houses lend themselves to these adaptations, but others do not, especially in older homes with narrow doorways and hallways or smaller garages.
One also needs to think about obstacles such as a garage that is too small for a lift-equipped van, stairways, or even a step down into a sunken room become a tremendous challenge. And let’s not forget those inaccessible door handles, light switches and in some cases lack of the ability to even access the back yard thanks to sliding door tracks, screen doors or other obstacles.
Challenges faced by some folks include the fact that when there is no hand function, shower and sink controls must be lowered and converted to handles rather than knobs, not to mention the fact that the controls also need to be at the right height to reach. Support handrail placement must also be reviewed, the size of the shower area, and I run two showerheads – an overhead and a handheld showerhead. Most kitchens are not only too crowded, but often will not function at all for a handicapped person who is wheelchair bound given countertop heights, and shelving.
Often times modifying a home would mean gutting it and creating an entirely new interior space at a comparable cost of to simply building a new house. Building a house from scratch is sometimes the best option. Many of the homes from The Plan Collection can be modified for the disabled.
The Plan Collection (www.theplancollection.com) features almost every type of house plan available, so home buyers can shop for one story house plans, which offer the perfect solution for empty nesters needing to live on one single level. Here are a few of the features disabled homeowners need to think about when building an accessible home:
Today’s open great room style house plans make it much easier for accessibility. Many house plans can easily be revised to include wider and doorless passageways for wheelchair access.One story house plans with wide foyers, hallways and easy access doorways for our Veterans and the aging population are a must. This single-story Mediterranean house plan (#107-1053) offers a large living room combined with a spacious kitchen. The master suite featurees a spacious private master bath and roomy walk-in closet.
For more ideas when building a new accessable home for the handicapped, check out the following guide with additional tips and resources for disabled housing:ChoiceHomeWarranty.