Video: Making Your Home Handicap Accessible

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Mike N.

Subject: Wheelchair accessible home

To make your home wheelchair accessible, make sure to have clear pathways. Standard widths are 36” for hallways and 32” for doorways and minimum clearance for 180 degree turns which is 36” in all directions. Your goal is to create accommodating widths for wheelchairs, rollators and mobility scooters. Checkout an infographic by KD Smart Chair, power wheelchair manufacturer who designed a blueprint on how to make your home wheelchair accessible.

Susan Campbell


The best time to do this is WELL BEFORE you actually need it! My husband and I are in our early 50's and just bought the home we plan to retire in. We installed ADA toilets before we moved in, and now are changing the steps to the entrances and adding a wheelchair ramp. We've each already had one knee surgery apiece, so we KNOW this will come in handy sooner rather than later!

Janiece Staton Retired RN


As a disabled RN (forced into very early retirement, due to a botched minor surgery that left me permanently and totally disabled), I instantly went from being a home health RN, taking care of homebound ill and injured patients, to taking care of myself. One of the most valuable, though rarely known adaptive devices that has helped me more than anything, has been my combination bidet/toilet appliance (used in place of a conventional toilet seat). As I'm partially paralyzed now, with a large "bulge" of intestines hanging off my left side (since my left truncal muscles have withered away), I cannot provide myself with toilet hygiene anymore. The remote controlled bidet/toilet appliance (aka a "washelet" device - created by the Japanese and available at several online plumbing companies), provides all of the washing and blow-drying needed to take care of my hygiene needs. It even includes an "enema feature", which helps me get the process started comfortably, if constipation has become an issue. As far as I'm concerned, this is the most critical adaptive device I'll ever own. It provides me with my dignity and independence, two things easily lost, once one becomes disabled. I believe these types of devices should be mandatory in all hospitals, assisted living centers, adult foster homes, nursing homes, etc. Not only are they more comfortable for those who are ill and/or injured, but it saves the nurse or caregiver's back and other muscles/joints from repeated injuries, trying to provide toileting hygiene to others. An electric toothbrush, also, eases and improves the cleaning of my teeth, as it doesn't require the scrubbing/manual energy usage, that a plain toothbrush uses - thus sparing my badly damaged shoulders/arms (from two major falls I've had).

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I second the original question (still unanswered). Speaking as someone who logged in today to try to find an attorney, I see this category as one that's exactly what I have my Angie's List membership for:

1. It's important that I find a good one
2. I'm not an expert enough to know myself who is a good one
3. The industry is full of advertisements and misinformation
4. I wish I knew what experiences other people have had

I don't care about lawns--I planted mine in clover and don't have to mow it. When I do need to mow I use a rotary Fiskars mower, which is great--or a scythe. That's right--a scythe (the European type, which is smaller, and it's very good exercise). Gas-powered mowers, chemical fertilizers and weed killers--all nasty stuff that gets into everyone's air, soil, and water. I'm sure my neighbor doesn't like my wildflowers, semi-wild pockets of fruit bushes, and unmown areas and yes, dandelions (I have 10 acres) but that's too bad. It's better habitat for wildlife, especially the pollinators on which our food supply depends. I think this obsession with the Great American Lawn is a waste of time and resources. Plant some food instead.

I'm not sure Angie et. al. want you to have a complete answer to this question. By re-subscribing at the Indiana State Fair in 2012, I think I paid $20.00 per year for a multi- year subscription. Maybe even less. At the other extreme--and I hope my memory isn't faulty about this--I think the price, for my area, for ONE year was an outrageous $70.00. And they debited me automatically without warning. I had to opt out of that automatic charge. I like Angie's List, but if some of the companies they monitor behaved the way they do in this respect, they'd be on some sort of Pages of Unhappiness. I'll be interested to see if this comment gets published or censored out of existence.

That's very difficult to answer without seeing the house. As one poster said, the prep is the most important part. On newer homes that don't have a lot of peeling paint, the prep can be very minimal even as low as a couple or a few hundred dollars for the prep labor.

On a 100 year old home with 12 coats of peeling paint on it, then the prep costs can be very high and can easily exceed 50% of the job's labor cost.

A 2100 sq ft two story home could easily cost $1000 just for the labor to prep for the paint job. That number could climb too. Throw in lots of caullking  or window glazing, and you could be talking a couple or a few hundred dollars more for labor.

Painting that home with one coat of paint and a different color on the trim could run roughly $1000 or more just for labor. Add a second coat  and that could cost close to another $1000 for labor.

For paint, you may need 20 gallons of paint. You can pay from $30-$70 for a gallon of good quality exterior paint. The manufacturer of the paint should be specified in any painting contract. Otherwise, the contractor could bid at a Sherwin-Williams $60 per gallon paint and then paint the house with $35 Valspar and pocket the difference. $25 dollars per gallon times 20 gallons? That's a pretty penny too.

That was the long answer to your question. The short answer is $2000 to $4000 and up, depending upon the amount of prep, the number of coats, the amount of trim, and the paint used.