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Beacon Senior News

Increasing home accessibility makes good financial sense

Aug 02, 2018 05:39AM ● By Guest

When homebuyers are looking ahead and thinking about aging in place, they really want a first-floor master suite.

While other features involving accessibility are also desirable, a first-floor master is often at the top of the list as more and more people are planning to stay in their homes as long as possible.

Accessibility options include features such as zero-step entries, roll-in showers and wider doorways, and elevators or chair lifts in multi-story residences. More subtle features include shallow-depth cabinets that make it easier to retrieve articles, and lever handles instead of knobs on doors, sinks and faucets.

These features are desirable for people seeking to stay in their homes and essential for persons of any age with disabilities.

Knowing the importance of accessibility, the federal government established a home accessibility tax credit (HATC), which, in certain cases, provides federal tax relief of 15 percent of up to $10,000 of eligible expenditures per calendar year for upgrading or remodeling to provide accessibility.

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Start with new construction

Incorporating accessibility features is a no-brainer in new home construction and it’s actually easier when incorporated from the start.

Typical features include step-free access into and within the dwelling as well as interior passage doors at least 32 inches wide. The main floor should include the kitchen, an entertainment area, a bedroom and at least one full bathroom with sufficient maneuvering space for a wheelchair or walker.


Accessibility is also something to keep in mind while remodeling and doesn’t make a great difference in cost. Bathrooms are a main focus because so many home accidents occur there. Make sure to have enough space to maneuver a wheelchair or walker.

The primary concern, of course, is stability and safety, so features like roll-in showers, non-slip floors in showers and tubs, good lighting, and sturdy grab bars are high on the list of any bathroom renovation.

Grab bars come in designs that add architectural interest as well as safety. Materials include teak wood, which is waterproof; various metallic finishes; and even glow-in-the-dark acrylic.

A sturdy built-in seat of tile or teak is another nice feature, and a hand-held shower head option is a worthwhile investment.

Kitchens should have slip-resistant flooring, adequate open space and good lighting. Safety and accessibility features might include front controls on the cooktop so the user doesn’t have to reach over hot burners, side-by-side doors on the refrigerator, and pullout shelves to provide lower counter space.

Storage might include shallow shelves or lazy Susan-style cabinets and fully extendable drawers.

Whether considering new construction or remodeling, it always makes good financial sense to incorporate accessibility features in your plans.