DIY Advice for Making Accessibility Home Modifications

Despite the disability, there’s no reason that your loved one shouldn’t be able to be safe, comfortable, and independent in their own home. In order for this to happen, however, it’s likely that you will need to make some strategic home modifications. If you’re the do-it-yourself type, you’ll likely want to tackle these home modifications without the help of professionals. Here are some tips for going the DIY route (and when you might need to contract a little help).

Where to start

It makes sense to start your home modifications with the easiest and the most beneficial to your disabled loved-one. Many home modifications are incredibly simple but have a major impact. You should prioritize these tasks.

● Improving lighting - it’s easier to get around and avoid injury in properly-lit spaces. This is a no-brainer. Making sure that every room has both overhead lighting and auxiliary lighting in the form of floor and table lamps are crucial. Consider LED lighting to reduce glare.
● Getting rid of obstructions on floors and in pathways - make sure your loved one has a clear path to navigate all through the house. Tape down rugs and make sure they aren’t too tall. Rugs with large lips are tripping hazards.
● Putting items in lower positions - this is especially important for those in wheelchairs. Make sure commonly-used items like the telephone, microwave, and other electronics are accessible.

Next steps

After you do all of the easy stuff, it’s time to move on to some projects that actually take a little bit of install time.

● Handrails and grab bars - high-risk areas like stairs and near bathtubs should be equipped with grab bars so your loved-one can have stability in tricky situations.
● Barrier ramps - loved-ones in wheelchairs may need ramps to get between certain areas of the home that are uneven or that previously used stairs. If you’re handy, you can also DIY some outdoors ramps.
● Cabinet removal - lower cabinets (the ones under countertops) may need to be removed so that those with wheelchairs can have better access to sinks, ranges, and cooking workspace.
● Carpet removal / new flooring - high-pile carpet is a hazard for those with disabilities, so you should remove it and replace with either low-pile carpet or a hard flooring option like laminate or tile.
● Widening doors - If your loved-one is in a wheelchair and also uses a service dog, for example, you may need to widen the doors around the home.

When it may be time to call a professional

Even if you’re a good DIY’er there are times when it’s best to call in the professionals. Unless you’re a licensed plumber or electrician, jobs involving plumbing and electricity should be left to professionals as to avoid the risk of injury and to make sure the job is done 100% correctly.

“A senior opting to age in place also should consider home modifications for the bathroom, particularly the bathtub. One option is to replace the bathtub with a walk-in shower, which provides much easier (and safer) entry and exit than a bathtub. A second bathroom modification option is to replace a traditional bathtub with a walk-in tub,” as notes.

This sort of demo-heavy project may be something you could do, but you have to think - is it worth it? Could you do the job as quickly as a professional contractor? If not, is your loved-one ok with living in what amounts to a house under construction for a prolonged period of time? It’s not admitting defeat to call in help, and in some cases, it’s the smart and responsible thing to do.

Written by Guest Contributor:

Paul Denikin of