If you’re looking at home adaptations, you’re probably considering all angles… The good, the bad and the ugly.
In this blog, we will be working through some of the main problems with home adaptations you might come up against so that you can avoid them in your project.
Home Adaptations: Making A House An Accessible Home
Most UK homes are not set up for people living with reduced mobility, like the frail, elderly and those with disabilities.
From narrow doorways to stairs and unsafe external steps to slippery bathroom floors, there are plenty of domestic features that can be adapted for a safer, happier way of life. Not only do home adaptations improve life quality, but they often enable individuals to continue living in their own homes rather than moving to a hospital or other care facility.
Here are some examples of the changes you might make to different areas of the house…
The bathroom is rife with hazards like slippery tiles and shower tray edges.
Adaptations in this space often include an accessible level-access shower, a height-adjustable WC and a shallow basin with lever taps. Grab rails positioned near the toilet and in the shower area are also key for stability during personal care routines.
Another option is a full transformation from a standard bathroom to a wetroom.
The bedroom is a sanctuary, but only if it works well for your needs. In this room, you’ll want to consider wider doorways for easier manoeuvrability, and motorised blinds or shutters because they involve less reaching.
The bed itself is a key part of comfort in the bedroom. Raising the height of the bed makes getting in and out of it easier for most people but is especially important if whoever uses it uses a wheelchair.
The height of a worktop can make a huge difference to people with a limited range of mobility. Rise-and-fall worktop units allow anyone using the counter to adjust it to their preferred height and are the perfect choice for a family home or those with multiple occupants.
Installing rise and fall cupboards, floor cupboards, and pull-down shelves provides easy access to cupboard items, and re-designing the room so that appliances are positioned more closely can reduce unnecessary travel between kitchen tasks.
Uneven or slippery external flooring surfaces can be unsafe and difficult to traverse if you have a reduced range of movement. Installing a ramp if needed, changing the ground surface and installing grab rails and benches provide support and places to rest when you want to spend time outside.
Major Home Adaptations
Minor home adaptations, such as grab rails, shower seats and short temporary ramps are quick and simple to install and generally don’t present any issues.
When it comes to major house renovations, however, it’s a different ball game. The most common complaints about living in a property undergoing big changes include:
- Living alongside mess
- Inability to use the space
- Getting used to the changes.
But, whilst big property changes can take time and effort to complete, home adaptations are worth it. Everyone has the right to feel safe and comfortable in their own home, after all.
Problem 1: Unrealistic Timescales
The first of our 3 common problems with home adaptations has to do with expectations around progress.
Some adaptations are quick and can be completed in under a day, like swapping in a height-adjustable toilet or installing a temporary shower pod.
Other adaptations need planning and careful execution involving multiple trade skills. Changes like installing a wetroom, laying a large concrete ramp and remodelling a kitchen to meet the needs of the user better can take days, or even weeks, to finish.
Overhauling a property completely for full accessibility? You’re probably looking at weeks of upheaval of one kind or another.
Knowing how long your project will take helps you plan. It also means that if you need to go and stay somewhere else whilst work is underway, you can manage the costs of that ahead of time instead of last minute.
Another aspect of having a good knowledge of adaptation timescales is understanding that excellent contractors are likely to have a list of projects booked already. If one of the contractors you’re considering says they can begin your job very quickly, it might be worth checking why they have such availability at short notice. Perhaps they’ve had a cancellation, or a job has fallen through last minute; who knows, but reputable contractors tend to be booked up in advance.
How To Avoid Timescale Despair
To avoid timeline problems with home adaptations, discuss expectations and other important factors with your chosen contractor. For example, if someone residing in the property needs to be back in their house by a certain date.
Problem 2: Inexperienced Contractors
Those long waiting lists for specialist contractors might have you reaching for the Yellow Pages or the online equivalent. Surely, building work is building work… Why not use a general builder?
For some aspects, that’s true. But for the bits that matter – the adaptations bit – you need a contractor who knows what they’re doing. Problems with home adaptations are far more common when you use an inexperienced contractor who doesn’t employ the same extensive knowledge and experience in the field.
How To Avoid Adaptations Mistakes
There’s a reason specialist contractors are booked up well in advance. They know what they’re doing!
Avoid experience-related problems with home adaptations by spending a lot of time looking at the contractor you want to hire. What is their online presence like? Do they have much experience? Do they have any qualifications or certifications?
Find out more about what to look for in a home adaptations contractor here.
Problem 3: The Cost
Money. It won’t surprise you to know that the cost of the project features on our list of problems with home adaptations.
The cost of adapting your home can be huge. If you’re making significant changes, like adding an extension or adapting your whole house, the invoice will be eye-watering. Parts, materials and the time and expertise of often multiple specialist contractors with varying skills all add up.
How To Avoid Project Cost Distress
There is nothing worse than realising the cost of your project is going to cause problems. With home adaptations, the project must be completed carefully and professionally to protect the health and safety of the user, so choosing a general builder to cut costs isn’t always an option.
So what’s the answer?
First and foremost, work out your priorities and set a realistic budget.
Budgeting is important to help stay on top of costs as the project progresses. To help you do this, ask for detailed quotes from contractors so that you can see where the money’s going. It’s also good practice to add 10% to your budget for contingencies… We’ve all seen enough of those house-flipping TV shows to know why!
Track your budget throughout the project to ensure you don’t come up against nasty surprises.
Another way to take control over money problems with home adaptations is to check what funding you’re entitled to.
In England, the local authority will pay for any minor adaptations costing under £1000 for individuals who qualify, and the Disabled Facilities Grant can be accessed to help with the cost of major adaptations. Some adaptations may also qualify for VAT relief. Read more about funding for adaptations here.
Problems With Home Adaptations Are Uncommon And Preventable
Engaging in the world of home adaptations is an exciting time; you’re changing your property for the better and creating the perfect home.
Sometimes, problems with home adaptations crop up. But the issues we’ve covered today can be easily avoided now that you’re aware of them.
Got a home adaptations project in mind but unsure where to start? Need some advice on funding the changes? The John Ford Group can help. See our website to get in touch.