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For those that live in a house, did modify an existing home or build new?

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    For those that live in a house, did modify an existing home or build new?

    I'm looking to get a new house and I'm interested in hearing about how other carecure members got their house. Did you build new or modify an existing home? About how long did it take? Any complications that occurred?

    #2
    It took me several years to modify an existing house. I am not sure it saved me any money. But it gave me more choice of location and got me into a house without new construction delays. Empty lots are not common, at least around here. If you can find a good lot, have time, and can afford the upfront cost, it may be a better outcome and save you money in the long run.

    If you decide to buy an existing house, consider one on a slab. Because houses on slabs are usually only a few inches off the ground they are good candidates for grading the landscape instead of a ramp. You will be happier, more active, and be able to do more. For example, when I lived in a house with a ramp, I did not BBQ because I couldn't be bothered carrying food up a ramp. Now that I have no ramp, I BBQ often.

    There are many complications with modifying an existing house. One is aesthetics. Modifications are afterthoughts and it tends to show. For example, where do you put the ramp and how much are you going to spend on looks so it doesn't look out of place? In order for it to look well integrated with the house and landscape, it could cost much more than a bare bones functional ramp. Another complication is flooring. Existing houses may have floors at different levels with thresholds at their transition. You don't want thresholds. If you are lucky, you may have to replace one floor to make them all level. More likely, you will replace all the floors before they are all at the same level. Both examples can be big expenses that you may not have with new construction.

    Comment


    • wheelman21
      wheelman21 commented
      Editing a comment
      Is that how you can tell they're on a slab, it's only a few inches off the ground?

    #3
    I worked in construction pre and post injury. I’ve overseen home mods and built new accessible homes. Some houses are virtually impossible to make accessible without at least putting on an addition. If you can afford it build from scratch. If you want to put it in the basement make the foundation walls taller and put a ledge on the inside so you can set your first floor down inside of it to make it level with the top of the foundation. That way you will have zero point entries with no ramps.

    Comment


    • wheelman21
      wheelman21 commented
      Editing a comment
      What type of this make a house impossible to make accessible without putting on an addition? Are there anythings I can lookout for?

      Have you put in many elevators? Is it "easy" to put one in a existing home or would that require an addition?

      "If you want to put it in the basement make the foundation walls taller and put a ledge on the inside so you can set your first floor down inside of it to make it level with the top of the foundation. That way you will have zero point entries with no ramps"

      Can you explain this a bit more? I'm not quite following.

    • cementhead
      cementhead commented
      Editing a comment
      Wheelman, usually a 2 story with an elevated front porch (several steps) or a tri level (five steps to the second floor five steps to the basement) are expensive to remodel and usually need a room addition put in for wheelchair accessible living.
      You can put a platform lift in the addition that will take you to the basement and the second floor.
      Most cookie-cutter homes have a two car garage which is only about 20 feet deep and 20 feet wide. The best way to add accessibility to these homes would be to add onto the garage and make it bigger so that you have room for a ramp.

      Most homes sit on either two x tens or 2 x 12 and sit on top of the foundation. That means that your first floor is anywhere from 12 to 15 inches above the top of the foundation . If you put a ledge inside the foundation and set the 2 x 12‘s or two by tens down inside the foundation so that they are level with the top of the foundation you don’t have any steps going in and out of the house as long as you pour your garage floor and your front porch flush with the first floor level.
      I have put in elevators in a couple houses. When you’re doing a remodel the best one I would suggest would be a Savaria.
      You don’t need a shaft it’s like a telephone booth and it comes up out of the floor. If your hallways are wide enough or you have a big closet you can usually put it inside one of these because you can travel across the top of where the elevator is with your wheelchair when it is not in use as it will be hidden inside the floor. It’s been a while since I’ve done one but I would figure the cost is probably around $25,000 maybe 30k.

    #4
    Great guidance here. I’m in the market right now for a home in order to escape the hamster wheel of rent increase on my apartment. I’m torn between condominiums and single-family homes, and the allure of a home continually distracts me from the simple truth that ramps are great at friends’ houses, but super limiting in your own home. In these parts (where empty lots don’t seem to exist) that really means condominiums are my best bet, despite ridiculous homeowners association fees and limits on customization.

    Good luck!
    C5/6 complete (maybe) circa June 2018

    Comment


      #5
      A brick ranch, one story home has served me well since 1998. I added a small ramp from the car port into the kitchen when I first purchased it. Over the years, as I saved up some money, I have continued to add accessibility features.
      If you are working, you may be able to get financial assistance for home modifications from your local Voc Rehab office.

      Comment


      • wheelman21
        wheelman21 commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks. I will contact them. Is it good to contact right away to get the ball rolling or wait till I have a home locked down.

      • 1981quad
        1981quad commented
        Editing a comment
        If your VR operates anywhere close to the one in NC then yes, you must have your home 'locked down'. If VR will modify your home, then prior to the modification beginning, you and/or the property owner will have to 'approve' of the modifications to the property. To your point about getting the ball rolling, I encourage you to contact VR asap and make them aware of your needs. They are a large government agency and typically have lots of policies & procedures to wade through. If you have a Center for Independent Living (CIL) near you then I would ask them about modification resources in your area.

      • cementhead
        cementhead commented
        Editing a comment
        If you are on Medicaid and you use a home health service program they usually have funds set aside for home modification. In Illinois where I live I think it is $15,000 every five years

      #6
      all but 1 were easy to modify and if fact 1 all i had to do was move in and put a roll under sink it had a rolling shower/ look on line get a good realtor its very doable also ramps ur local churches home depot lowes usually will help do them

      Comment


        #7
        There are more and more townhomes that are all on one level. There are some houses also. Just be aware that sometimes when a townhouse or home are advertised as 'one level', they still have a basement(???).
        Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.

        Comment


        • wheelman21
          wheelman21 commented
          Editing a comment
          I'd love a 1 level home but I've tried searching for 1 level homes in my area and can't find any.

        • August West
          August West commented
          Editing a comment
          Real 1 level homes (no basement) are more common in warmer climates.

        #8
        Originally posted by wheelman21 View Post
        I'm looking to get a new house and I'm interested in hearing about how other carecure members got their house. Did you build new or modify an existing home? About how long did it take? Any complications that occurred?

        wheelman if you want to private message me your location I will look on realtor listings and show you options that might be least cost prohibitive for accessibility renovations.

        Comment


          #9
          Originally posted by cementhead View Post


          wheelman if you want to private message me your location I will look on realtor listings and show you options that might be least cost prohibitive for accessibility renovations.
          yeah you might be able to give me a budget to work with to

          Comment


            #10
            Wheelman--By sheer luck, I purchased/built a home in 1984. It is a slab home in the Dallas area where there are millions. Almost NO basements, and some with a second story. My son broke his neck in 2006 at C6. Out of rehab and moved to our home, quickly realized that taking showers 3 times per week in the back yard with a garden hose was not a long-term solution. Luckily, our home had a roof over hanging the patio. Speaking with some construction friends, turns out that we could add a straight wall with door entry at the back edge of our slab and a window. Was able to add insulation in the walls and into the ceiling as well. Contacted a plumber and determined we could knock a hole in the old patio slab at one end of the new enclosure to accommodate plumbing for sink, commode, and drain for a roll-in shower, all in a straight line. The trick was putting a rubber bladder under the tiles for water proofing and making the grade sufficient for the shower water to drain into the hole in the floor without flooding the rest of the bathroom, and allow the new back door to open completely inward. The add-on plumbing was routed to the outside of our slab and connected about 20 feet away to the master bathtub plumbing. Also added a false wall at the same end to accommodate the add-on plumbing access and allow for a cupboard for linen and supplies storage. This bath has been in use for 16 years and counting. In addition, we added a new cement patio out the new back door and added a new sidewalk connection to the driveway in the back of the house. Thus, the house with garage, rear driveway, and new patio are all on the same level.

            So, if you are looking at a used or new home and need to rearrange/modify to fit your needs, it requires a lot of things to consider some of which are described above. The project took 3 weeks or so and I did much of the work with help from a friend. Hired out the plumbing and patio slab work. The water supply to the ADA bathroom came from the master bath shower. No permits required.

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              #11
              Sorry I'm late to the conversation, but I have experience building custom and buying/modifying.

              To sum up since the post turned out a lot longer than I planned: Both have their benefits and drawbacks. I recommend building custom if you really know what you want/need AND can afford it. Both options can be as expensive or cheap as you are willing to accept for your quality of life. Buying something truly inaccessible and trying to make it accessible will be really hard, but buying something accessible enough might be a bridge until you really know what you want and can afford it.

              I had a custom house built back in 2013 that was a 1-story ranch with a basement (no elevator in design due to expense). The first floor was great and working with a custom builder gave me the opportunity to work accessibility into everything I could think of at the time of settling the design. The basement had a walk-out which meant I could theoretically wheel through the backyard to get to the basement, but the grade made it very difficult anyway. In the 7 years we lived there, I'm fairly certain I went to the basement 5 times or less and all but once I drove my ramp van through the back yard and put the ramp out onto the slab outside the door. I really regretted not designing an elevator into the design from the outset because when we met with a number of elevator providers later to have one installed, it would either have required an addition or an extensive remodel of the interior layout to accommodate the installation.

              While I had hoped that house would be a "forever" home, thanks to IVF we ended up having twins for our second pregnancy. We only intended on 2 kids, so we built a 3 bedroom 2.5 bath house. Having 3 kids right before COVID hit showed us the importance of more bedrooms and the need for my wife and I to have offices away from the kids. I was hoping to just finish the basement to add additional bedrooms, but the elevator issue made it a non-starter.

              We ended up being blessed to find a move-in ready handicapped accessible house (2 story plus a basement, but the first floor had enough space to live in while we modified to open up the rest of the house to me) a little north of us. While the first floor was accessible enough to move into, it still required modifications to make it pleasant. Thankfully we were able to install an elevator using the profit from the house we sold, but that took 3 full months of construction (after waiting 2 months for parts to arrive in the first place) to complete and maybe I just got screwed, but it was well over $80,000. Except for the Savaria which is shaftless, you have to pay for the elevator (10-15K per floor) and shaft (10-15k per floor) separately. On top of the elevator, the previous owners hadn't left space under sinks, so I had to manually cut out an area for my legs in the bathroom. I have just left the kitchen sinks alone for now (we've been here for over 2 years) because we use the storage space under to keep stuff away from my little kids. The house we bought was custom built by an older couple to accommodate their blended family and aging parents. They were a lot less money-conscience when designing/building so they got to make things a lot nicer than when we designed our original place back in 2013. There were accessibility things they considered that I wish I would have considered or been able to afford back when I built.

              Comment


                #12
                Originally posted by ToastGuard View Post
                Sorry I'm late to the conversation, but I have experience building custom and buying/modifying.

                To sum up since the post turned out a lot longer than I planned: Both have their benefits and drawbacks. I recommend building custom if you really know what you want/need AND can afford it. Both options can be as expensive or cheap as you are willing to accept for your quality of life. Buying something truly inaccessible and trying to make it accessible will be really hard, but buying something accessible enough might be a bridge until you really know what you want and can afford it.

                I had a custom house built back in 2013 that was a 1-story ranch with a basement (no elevator in design due to expense). The first floor was great and working with a custom builder gave me the opportunity to work accessibility into everything I could think of at the time of settling the design. The basement had a walk-out which meant I could theoretically wheel through the backyard to get to the basement, but the grade made it very difficult anyway. In the 7 years we lived there, I'm fairly certain I went to the basement 5 times or less and all but once I drove my ramp van through the back yard and put the ramp out onto the slab outside the door. I really regretted not designing an elevator into the design from the outset because when we met with a number of elevator providers later to have one installed, it would either have required an addition or an extensive remodel of the interior layout to accommodate the installation.

                While I had hoped that house would be a "forever" home, thanks to IVF we ended up having twins for our second pregnancy. We only intended on 2 kids, so we built a 3 bedroom 2.5 bath house. Having 3 kids right before COVID hit showed us the importance of more bedrooms and the need for my wife and I to have offices away from the kids. I was hoping to just finish the basement to add additional bedrooms, but the elevator issue made it a non-starter.

                We ended up being blessed to find a move-in ready handicapped accessible house (2 story plus a basement, but the first floor had enough space to live in while we modified to open up the rest of the house to me) a little north of us. While the first floor was accessible enough to move into, it still required modifications to make it pleasant. Thankfully we were able to install an elevator using the profit from the house we sold, but that took 3 full months of construction (after waiting 2 months for parts to arrive in the first place) to complete and maybe I just got screwed, but it was well over $80,000. Except for the Savaria which is shaftless, you have to pay for the elevator (10-15K per floor) and shaft (10-15k per floor) separately. On top of the elevator, the previous owners hadn't left space under sinks, so I had to manually cut out an area for my legs in the bathroom. I have just left the kitchen sinks alone for now (we've been here for over 2 years) because we use the storage space under to keep stuff away from my little kids. The house we bought was custom built by an older couple to accommodate their blended family and aging parents. They were a lot less money-conscience when designing/building so they got to make things a lot nicer than when we designed our original place back in 2013. There were accessibility things they considered that I wish I would have considered or been able to afford back when I built.
                I have a savaria telecab in my home. I’ve also done remodels to prep for installing one. You only need like a 54”x 38” clear opening to install one. Carpentry work should cost 4-5k and can be done in as quickly as a day. The top of the telecab that sits in the floor when it’s lowered into the basement can be used in a travel area such as a hallway. My Tele cab is in my master bedroom and I have to drive over the top of it to get into the master bath daily. I’ve been here 13 years and I’ve had no issues with the flooring that covers the top of the telecab lid.
                Guess what I’m trying to say is you don’t need that much space to install one.

                Comment


                  #13
                  If you have the opportunity build from scratch no doubt. Why buy an expensive house and then put more money into it to try to modify it to be what you want? Why not just put all that money in from the get-go to get exactly what you want? That was my logic in building my house which we moved into November 2020. It just didn’t make sense to try to find some thing I could modify. Because there was always going to be some aspect I wasn’t happy with. But if you can find something you can modify to be happy with then that’s a different story. But for me it was built from scratch no question.

                  Comment


                    #14
                    I bought my home in 1992 and when I was looking for a place I sought out ranch style home. The pickings were slim and every house required modifications to entrance ways, doorways needed to be widened, The bathroom, kitchen and laundry all needed attention. I got lucky and found a nice 4yo rancher that was in bank foreclosure. I've did the necessary things at first to make the place accessible and then over the years I've been making updates to make life easier.

                    If I could afford it, I would love to design and build a totally accessible home.

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                    T12 Complete since 1982. TiLite Tx

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                      #15
                      I recently bought a house. My disability related checklist was
                      - single story
                      - no crazy stairs or steps that couldn’t be handled without modification if really needed and can be handled comfortably with temporary modification (ramp, rubber lip)
                      - no modifications needed before move in - similar to the stairs/steps: I’m not expecting things to be easy, just do-able until I get around to modifying
                      - pool: allows me to do physical fun stuff with my kids and let’s me stretch/exercise
                      - as little carpet as possible, no carpet in the hallways
                      - reasonable distance from parking to get into the house
                      - acceptable neighborhood: important to keep in mind in SoCal, I lucked out on this one, love my little pocket
                      - PV or solar as some like to call it: helps a lot with the utility bills in SoCal

                      The place I found works out great for me wi5h some bonus items like the kitchen island at a height I can reach well from my chair and space to roll under and some of the doors being double doors making life much easier.

                      i made some easy modifications like
                      - ramps where they make life easier
                      - app controlled and scheduled lights
                      - app controlled garage opener
                      - app controlled sprinklers
                      - finger print or app controlled door locks

                      There’s still a lot to do, next bigger project is to replace the carpet areas/rooms with something more accessible. Not sure what that should be yet. I’ll start a separate thread for that.

                      I’m working on water bill adjustment for preexisting leaks and electricity discount for medical devices. I’ll start a separate thread for this as well as I think those items can help the community a lot and I do t know about you guys but I was totally oblivious to this until stumbling over information by pure chance.
                      Last edited by SoCal; 19 Nov 2022, 1:09 PM. Reason: Edit

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