Thursday, June 7, 2018

Is it time to Remodel?

I read on Facebook the other day that someone was planning on remodeling their bathroom to accommodate their needs. This brought to mind something I wrote in the past on the subject, and I updated it below.

The top ten reason for wanting to remodel (a humorous approach):
  1. You are tired of peeing in a cup and bathing with wet wipes.
  2. Grab bars – what a concept. I wish I had thought of that.
  3. You are home alone. The blinds are shut, the lights are off, the heat needs adjusting, the TV remote was left on the floor; and you cannot reach any of them.
  4. Your carpeting has enough embedded tracks in it for a railroad.
  5. Who really knows what secrets lurk on the upper level of your home? You have never seen it.
  6. You cannot remember what the back yard looks like, but they tell you it is nice.
  7. In case of fire, common sense says you need more than one accessible exit from your home.
  8. There’s not enough putty compound in the world to fill the gashes in your hallways and doorways from the wheelchair.
  9. Your seasonal clothes and hobby supplies disappear in the black hole of your attic because you have no accessible storage space.
  10. Water runs down your armpits every time you wash your hands because the sink and counters are too high.

Move or Improve? That is the question.

People remodel because they love their home or their neighbors or they are close to family and friends. Home improvements are usually a sound investment (up to a point). For example, a report states that the return rate on a remodeled bathroom is 88%. The rule of thumb is “don’t spend more than 5% of your home’s value on remodeling any one room. However, most people with a neuromuscular disease are more concerned about safety and accessibility than resale value.

Wheelchair accessible homes are few and far between. There are not a lot of them out there and normally people do not advertise them as such for concerns that others buyers will not be interested.

Consult with and hire professionals

If you are thinking of building or a major remodel, consult with an expert(s). Occupational Therapists  (OT) are very helpful in determining your needs today and into the future. If you have a progressive disorder, never, I repeat - never, attempt to remodel to satisfy your current needs. Your OT can help you look out three to five years and determine what is needed today and in the future. 

Once you have an idea of what is needed, architects can offer more ideas about design, space and what is available. Architects interpret your wishes into technical terms for the contractor to follow.

Seek out others who have recently remodeled

Word of mouth recommendations are gold. Discuss 'dos and don'ts' and lessons learned with others who have previously remodeled. Kennedy's Disease on Facebook, the local MDA and ALS organizations, and friends who have friends are excellent resources for this. They have first hand experience as to what worked, what they would do differently had they known, and other gems of information.


Guidelines for hiring a contractor

Once you are ready, take your time and find a contractor you feel comfortable with. Once again, word of mouth recommendations from others you know are helpful. Look for contractors who have experience in handicap renovations and additions. Ask to see photos of some of their work to gain and idea of what type of renovations they perform and the quality of the work.

Some contractor guidelines.
  • Consult with at least three contractors about your plans. Check their licensing, insurance, and credentials online and with your state’s registrar of contractors and the Better Business Bureau.
  • Get bids and detailed breakdowns of costs and time in writing from all three contractors. Typically, the mid-range bid is your best bet.
  • Be ware of contractors who supply only out of town references, present tight time pressures or promise completions that seem unrealistic.
  • Pay only in stages. Never give 100% up front (or even a hefty deposit up front. Deposits are typically 10%. Always hold back money based on the stage of completion because it is your only leverage.
  • Both you and the contractor should sign and date a written contract including the work details, materials specified (with substitution requiring a written approval), payments and dates, and the completion date. Do not sign a completion statement and give the final payment until a full inspection is completed by yourself and a building inspector.
  • Be aware that suppliers and sub-contractors can place a lien against your property. To protect yourself, add a release of lien clause to your contract or ask for proof of payments by your contractor.

1 comment:

  1. Another great post - thanks!

    I know it is your humor section, but, instead of "Wet Wipes I use two regular washcloths. I soap one in the bathroom for the pits, wring it out inn a filled basin and risen once, then us the other for final rinse. I wring out the second under running water, the first (it the soapy basin water) I wring out so it doesn't drip. Take both to bed. Use the soapy one, then the rinse one- close enough for me. BTW drying all the way with a small hair dryer helps to keep the skim healthy.

    In the remodel section I'd caution the readers that the photos, and most OTs, are solving problems for paraplegics the have good upper body function. Quads like use, although "functioning," do not have the strength to use those solutions.

    I used a ceiling lift in the bathroom for toilet transfers and I use an assistant for shower transfer using a Hoyer-type and sliding shower bench.

    I made my own track system but here are some commercial ideas:


    I use the Prism Medical C300 as the lift. C300 is designed for "permanent" attachment, There is also a P300 that is portable - you can hook it in wherever you need it. Might be useful for transferring into your quad-runner!


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