Accessible housing: how to make your home disability friendly
Living with a disability is never easy, and you can quickly become overwhelmed with frustration if your home isn’t properly equipped to accommodate your reduced mobility. In this article, we’ve offered guidance around how you might go about creating accessible housing for the disabled, including looking into the available disability grants for home improvement.
Designing mobility friendly homes
Whether you require structural changes, inside or out, or simple additions to accommodate disability, we’ve outlined the ways you can make your home friendlier to individuals with reduced mobility.
Install ramps where necessary
Including a ramp to your property is always a good start. And they don’t just help those who rely on wheelchairs; the elderly can often struggle to negotiate steps, especially if there are many leading to the front door. Additionally, it can be helpful to include handrails to hold onto for stability, and a non-slip surface for when it’s a little wintry.
Designing disability-friendly doors
Whether you install a ramp or not depends on your individual circumstances, but, for many, accessible housing for the disabled really starts at the front door.
Whether you or another resident are in a wheelchair, and find working manual locks difficult, or you’re elderly and lack the strength to operate a door handle, there is always a solution. For instance, you can install an electric lock that can easily be opened by entering a short code into an outdoor keypad or via your smartphone.
Similarly, the size of your doorway can make all the difference for somebody with a disability. Widening the entrance will allow for easier wheelchair access, as well as making it more straightforward for the elderly to walk through with a frame or scooter.
Making your bathroom more inclusive
The bathroom is perhaps the most important room in the house to make alterations to, to accommodate accessibility difficulty. At the most basic level, simply adding rails beside your toilet and shower can make it easier for somebody with a small disability to visit the bathroom independently.
Larger scale modifications include:
- Installing a wet room or walk-in shower, that allows a user to step straight in. You might also choose to consider a shower seat.
- Swapping out your regular toilet for a wash-and-dry model. This essentially combines a toilet, bidet, and air dryer into one piece, and means those with accessibility issues never have to compromise on hygiene.
- Adjusting the height of your sink and toilet, so somebody with reduced mobility isn’t required to over-exert themselves.
An accessible stairway solution
If you or somebody you live with has a disability, and your home is on multiple levels, you’ll likely need a stairway compromise. This may come in the form of:
- A stairlift, which is installed to ascend on the diagonal parallel to your staircase. A stairlift is suitable for individuals who don’t rely on a wheelchair to move.
- A platform lift, which will raise you to the next floor vertically. This is ideal, if you are in a wheelchair.
Disability grants for home improvement
Disability housing rights dictate that you should be allowed to make changes to your home, or request your landlord alter your rented property, to accommodate your decreased mobility. We’ve outlined how to qualify and how much you can get.
Qualifying for the disability housing grant
As with all other government funding, you’ll need to go through a qualification process and provide evidence that the disability housing grant will be used to make a difference to your home and the lives of the people living there:
- Personal criteria
First and foremost, you or somebody else living at your property must be disabled, according to section 6 of the Equality Act 2010. If you’re unsure whether you qualify for disability housing rights, it’s always a good idea to check before starting any work.
Additionally, one of you must also own the property or be registered as a tenant, and intend to live at the house for the duration of the grant period (currently five years).
- Accommodation criteria
Next up, you’ll need to provide evidence that your proposed plan for accessible housing is necessary to accommodate a disability. Additionally, the council must be satisfied that the work is actually possible, taking the condition of your property into account.
Do I need planning permission for disabled home improvements?
If you want to make modifications to your property, especially big changes to accommodate disability, you may be required to apply to the local council for planning permission. You should apply for the relevant planning permission before you begin any work to your home, because, if the request is denied:
- You may not receive the grant, and have to pay for any building work out of your own pocket.
- Or worse: you may be served with an ‘enforcement notice’, which essentially orders you to undo all the work you’ve already undertaken.
How much is the disability housing grant?
The disability housing grant is means tested, so your personal finances (including household income and savings over £6,000) will be taken into account when calculating how much you’re eligible for. The maximum amount you can qualify for also depends on where abouts in the UK you live:
England: the maximum grant for accessible housing is £30,000
Wales: the maximum grant for accessible housing is £36,000
Northern Ireland: the maximum grant for accessible housing is £25,000
Scotland: there’s no formal disability housing grant, but each local council does offer grants and loans to make structural changes to accommodate accessible homes.
Reduced mobility can have a huge impact on daily activity, but it should never make your homelife uncomfortable; hopefully, you’ve developed a good idea about how to make positive changes to your home. For even more expert property guidance, head over to our blog.