Kaufman Homes

Remodeling a Home for Aging in Place or Accommodating Handicap Issues

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Remodeling a Home for Aging in Place or Accommodating Handicap Issues

For handicap issues, remodeling a home is always a challenge. Taking what we have and make what we need considering, style, location and always with cost considerations is difficult but can be done with Kaufman Homes. For those who do not want to move from the home they love, in the area they love there are always ways to accommodate their desire to stay at home for the rest of their life. While remodeling a home might seem like a huge project to take on,  it does not have to be and as you will see a lot of the issues are not large projects.

Some of the things that need to be considered about the existing layout of the home:

  1. Tri-levels are an issue because of the multiple levels.  If it is possible an elevator or stairway lift may solve this problem.
  2. Master bedrooms and baths on the upstairs only may require an elevator or stairway mounted elevator.  If at all possible modify a room on the main floor to accommodate or if that isn’t possible do an addition.  Value engineering will determine the solution method.
  3. Driveways on an existing home are pretty much what they are and cannot be changed or at least not easily.
  4. Selling, to find an existing home that would be easier to modify, would usually be preferred especially in difficult situations but if that is out of the question there are many ways to work toward workable solutions.
  5. Have a reputable and experienced contractor consult on possibilities, feasibility and the costs.

Safety issues:

  1. Accommodating safety issues when remodeling an existing home are usually fairly easy and not to costly to perform. Lighting, more of it and higher quality; color corrected bulbs help.
  2. Contrast in surface textures and colors to enable you to distinguish between them.
  3. Compact fluorescent bulbs or LED lights, are cooler to the touch and energy efficient
  4. Scald prevention plumbing fixtures.
  5. All yard sprinklers should be on automatic timers.
  6. Non-slip surface treatments in baths and bath rooms
  7. Electronic ignition to replace pilot lights, so you are not kneeling with a match and your reading glasses!
  8. Floors need to be leveled from one room to another or at least any slight changes need to be corrected to alleviate stumbling issues.


In an existing home, steps into the home need to be modified by wood ramps or more permanent concrete ramps. All ramps must meet the ADA federally mandated handicapped standards.


  1. Showers and tubs can be made usable on a short term basis by installing grab bars and non skid floors.  More permanently walk in showers will need to be installed to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers.
  2. Install handicapped height toilets and put a grab bar at the rear and side of the toilet.  ADA standards specify the installation needs.
  3. Consider modifying a sunken living area to the level of the rest of the home? Things to work around and resolve are fireplaces with a hearth on the floor and the height of the windows off of the floor.  If the windows are far enough off the floor or are tempered and if the fireplace has a raised hearth then it is an easy fix by framing in the raised level.
  4. Have a mail and newspaper box installed at the front door to keep from having to walk out to the street.
  5. Night lights in areas traveled at night
  6. Have smoke alarms and CO detectors installed.
  7. Emergency phone #’s
  8. Have a fire or disaster evacuation plan.  Need a front and rear accessible escape.
  9. Wear an emergency transponder to call 911.

Ease of Use:

  1. Look ahead. Update now to prevent having to deal with it when you are less able or don’t have as much income: Updated high energy efficient furnace and AC equipment, new energy efficient, major appliances, re-roof and re-side to prevent high exterior maintenance. Low maintenance is your goal.
  2. Shop with a critical eye. When you replace an appliance, look for convenience in cleaning and servicing.
  3. Convert space for anticipated live-in help, who can assist you in day to day issues allowing you to have that sense of comfort and security in the home you are comfortable with and used to,  as we age, change becomes more and more difficult.
  4. Heights: cabinets can be designed now to be removed later to create an under the counter knee space to accommodate wheel chairs. Raise some appliances, such as dishwashers, to load and unload without stooping.


  1. Doorways should be widened enough to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers.  If widening is not always possible, narrower wheelchairs are available.
  2. Door lever handle put less demand on your grip than a knob.
  3. Change cabinet round knobs to pulls.
  4. Build a network of support: gather people to help or hire (through trusted referrals) to help with: gardening, heavy house cleaning, shoveling snow, cleaning out gutters and etc.
  5. Keyless entries mitigate forgetfulness and afford the ability to change locks easily. They also allow someone to drop in easily and check on you.
  6. Simplify your yard to allow for ease and less expensive maintenance.

Upgrading and Modernizing

  1. If at all possible add things that will make your existing home more livable and less expensive for energy costs.  Adding attic and under floor insulation as well as a vapor barrier in the crawlspace, all will save energy costs in the long run.
  2. If your existing HVAC equipment is old it may be time to replace so that as we age there is less disruption in our lives save energy costs and be more comfortable.

When considering handicap issues, Kaufman Homes would gladly come to your home and talk about what can be done and value engineer the things needed to allow you to stay in your home longer or live out your years in the home you love, are used to and in the neighborhood you want to be in.

Just a quick reminder, a lot of the items in this article are not necessarily “remodeling projects” but are small projects. We have a home repair division that is more than happy to do almost all of the items listed in this article. Please do not hesitate to call us at 503-370-8390 to get help with whatever you may need.[/vc_column_text][dt_gap height=”10″][/vc_column][/vc_row]