Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Finding an accessible home

My recent output of new products has been a bit less than usual.

There is a reason for this: I am moving home! I now have my new home, but it won't be ready for me to move in for another few months as it needs a lot of work done to it.

So over the next few months you can expect a few blogs about the process.

Here are a few notes from my recent experience of house hunting:

1. Wheelchair accessible homes at sensible prices don't exist in my area.

2. Logic says most bungalows will work. Um...no. Half the bungalow's where I live either have corridors with tight corners that even my skinny wheelchair can't get through, or...get this...they have INTERNAL STEPS!
Seriously, why go to the trouble of creating a bungalow, only to put a step into the kitchen? Or a step into the bathroom? Just....why? (Ok, I admit, I'm highly biased in favour of level access.)
And that's without factoring in that most of the smaller bungalows have been converted and expanded into the roof - creating 'unusable space'.

3. Before arranging a viewing, ask the internal step question, and check the floorplans to see if you've already viewed one with that layout and found it inaccessible.

4. I started off convinced I wanted a minimum hassle house. Somewhere that was all nice so all I needed to do was move in. All the nicely presented place still needed work! Replacing front doors with low threshold doors, putting in ramps, replacing carpets with laminate/vinyl, widening doorways and replacing the bathroom. So after about 6 months I changed my priorities and decided that buying somewhere that needed a lot of work was more affordable - and more likely to be find-able - because then I wouldn't be paying for things I'd have to replace to make it accessible.

5. When viewing, try out the mobility options you will use in real life: crutches, wheelchairs etc. It's no good getting somewhere which you can walk through, but not with crutches, or not with a wheelchair - when those aids will be needed some days. The local estate agents got very good at lifting my wheelchair over doorsteps - I would get myself through the door, and they'd bring my chair. This way I could make sure my wheels would be able to access all the important areas.

So after over a year of looking, I found somewhere that was both within my budget and could be made accessible. It's a 60's bungalow which doesn't appear to have any works done on it since the 80's - the amount of work that will need to be done over the next few months is phenomenal, but the end result will be worth it. It's going to be tough balancing all the house related work and decisions with condition management and stickman business, but thanks to a builder friend who is taking on the bulk of the work and coordinating with all the contractors I think it will work out.

But perhaps the most significant thing I've learnt so far is just how difficult it is to find a home that could be made suitable fairly easily. My heart really does go out to those with disabilities who have to hunt for rented accommodation which is suitable without adaptation - because rented places will only be adapted if the landlord decides to. 'Uphill task' is, I suspect, a considerable understatement.


  1. I'm really enjoying your blog. Only just discovered it.
    Delighted you have found somewhere suitable. Hope the building work is not too stressful or expensive. Look forward to hearing about your move. Good luck with it all.


Feel free to comment, but please note that any offensive or inappropriate comments - including advertising - will be moderated.