Not sure where else to put this.... We are throwing around ideas about what we need in a new home. We can either build or purchase resale. Building is easier to get ADA stuff built in, but it is much more expensive. What are important ADA mods that really work well, should live without or would really have liked to have? Thanks!

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In my mind, you need to approach this in phases, with the house not limiting any phase.

Phase I - The boy is still ambulatory. We wanted the house to look and feel as "normal" as possible. No need for ramps, lifts yet.

Phase II - The boy becomes non-ambulatory. Must have wide doorways and hallways. Ramping into the house. We built ours in the garage. It is steep as we knew they would always use an electric chair, so there was no sense building one of those long ramps at the front of the house. (ie to building code). It also kept it out of the elements.
A stair glide or an elevator is a must. Without the elevator, you will need a ceiling track system from the top of the stairs into the bathroom and their room. You cannot lift the boys forever, nor should you. Modifying bathrooms are nice for baths and showering. Computer desks/workstations that can be rolled up to.

Phase III - The young man is very dependent on you for care. Rooms large enough for hospital type beds and plenty of electrical outlets. Backup generator becomes a must!

Open areas and wide doorways is the key. Fancy carpets are nice, but 300lb electric wheelchairs beat them up very quickly and tile cracks. Wood or burber carpets are the sturdiest.

Just my opinion. We have been doing this for a long time.

The only thing I would add to the above response, is a large storage closet. Not all equipment gets used at the same time, and it would be nice to have a place to put lesser used items. This seems to be the one mistake (so far at least) that we made with the addition we did to our house. Also, electrical outlets in the closet for chargers would also help a lot.

These are great suggestions - Thank you!!!

We have the option to do a build for a 2-story home with straight stair case that would cost us $20-25K less than a ranch model.  We loose out on a study and guest room options with a ranch within our budget.  The 2-story gives us all of that but would require a stair lift no matter what.  Which would you recommend then - 2 story with all the rooms we want and a straight stair case OR a rancher with the minimal required amount of rooms (no finished basement then) but no requirement for lift unless we build out the basement.


A lot of things I have read advise against stair lifts because they are not rated for power chair weight. I did some looking around and found that a residential elevator average cost is about fifteen thousand dollars. This would still save money over the ranch, but allow the features you want.

We researched the lifts and you are totally right!  Now I have heard that elevators can be high maintenance and costly because of it.  Anyone else heard or experienced this too?  My Aunt's friend is moving out of her home because of how often the elevator needed repairs.

We just had an elevator installed in Feb., and it cost $16,000 (spit level, 3 stops: entry level, basement, first floor), which automatically ate the house adaptation grant we got for it (Canada-Quebec). We are paying about 35 thousand out of pocket for everything : door widening, front door lowering, eliminate sills, redoing walkway paving stones to get rid of curbs and widen driveway for van parking , regrade for wheelchair use (not done yet, waiting for spring/summer). There are other grants but it depends on your income.

We moved from a 3 storey cottage as the estimated costs there to make the entire house accessible was 65-70 thousand. Both bathrooms were too small to be adapted easily. The other option they presented us was to create a special "bachelor pad" addition with adapted bathroom/shower and its own entry on the ground floor (about $20 thousand if I remember correctly), but it seemed small and he wouldn't have access to more than the living/dining and kitchen area, when we had family space in the basement too, with all the electronics/games. It also meant his bedroom would be off the kitchen, down one floor and across the entire house from the rest of the families bedrooms. Didn"t seem right or fair. But it might be a good option in the right house.

New to the elevator experience, but it runs on batteries, so short power outages shouldn't cause a problem. Reassured that there is a phone right in it for emergency calls. Will let you know.


Good luck with this Andrea!!! I look forward to hearing how it goes

Anyone know of funding for home modifications in the US and/or Colorado?

Great question Liisa! We got a few other pieces of advice from some of our friends on Facebook:

  • HyacinthI would have loved to have had the Trac System installed. Wide doorways are a must. Standard just doesn't cut it. Hunter's chair snags the door and has gouged our narrow hallway. I'd go wide, wide, wide and open floor plan with everything if I could.
  • Crystal: open floor plan and a handycap accesable bathroom ie.. tub and shower, a portable ramp maybe to go in and out of the house easier, but retracable if you want to make more space when not in use and maybe lower cuboards
  • Rebecca: Remember you don't need home mods to meet ADA, just your local building code. And you don't need to hire an ADA architect, they cost a lot. Unless you own a public building, of course..

  • Angie: Bathroom for sure! Second having narrow hallways and doors widened, many "standard" sized doors get clipped and chunked by the chairs. Next would be ramps to easily get in and out of the house. Having either a table that they can eat at, or make for deeper counters to fit foot plates under counter to help with cooking etc. We have done a few mods to our house, but thankfully most of the house is spacious enough to accommodate. Right now we are trying to figure out a way for pool lift.

  • Susan: A really good attitude and a lot of creativity go a long way to making life eaiser right where you are.

  • Perlita: We just finished building an accesible home for levi... no steps, wider halls. Pocket doors, bathrm has handrails, shower chair, lower shower, no door knobs, handles better, wall outlets and counter tops 6 in lower. Elevator rm. We hv the rm ready. Waitung on elevator we hv the house plans if anyone wants to review

  • Susan: Something to think about -- just because something is ADA compliant does not mean it is useful for our boys. For example we found that hand rails in the bathroom were not really useful for Jon. He really did not have the necessary upper body strenght to make the something he could use, it was much safer to go to a shower bench so he couldn't fall. There is no way a grab bar would have helped prevent a fall or stop him from falling.

  • My Beckers Story: First a walk in or easy entry shower, tiled showers do cause issue when it comes to cleaning at least for me, kitchen is next maybe a side by side fridge to make both the freezer and fridge accessible, a wall over set at a level that makes it easy to use, a laundry room with front load washer and dryers, for those who live in areas with winter weather a garage with entry into the home, garage is also good for eliminating issue of cleaning car off in winter, no step walk ways that lead to front entrance of home, best home is a bungalow but if you own a two storey an elevator would be good. I am currently having issue with accessibility around the home like many I am waiting for a lottery win to enable me to purchase an accessible home. To me as I get old with Becker's Muscular Dystrophy a fully accessible home with probably be the mosy important thing.

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