Owning a home presents significant challenges for even the most able bodied among us. Homeowners have to constantly worry about a litany of issues with their home. For Ontario residents, you may be concerned about whether your attic insulation will keep your residence warm or about potential damage from five or six feet of snow and ice that fall each year. Issues of homeownership can be doubly worrisome for the disabled, who often are unemployed, underemployed, or rely on a variety of Canadian tax benefits to support themselves.
There are many simple and cost effective renovations homeowners can make that will provide easier access to their homes, many of which may qualify for Canadian tax benefits, including:
Zero-Step Entryways and Threshold-free Doorways
If you’re disabled and use a walker or a wheelchair, you understand how difficult it can be to traverse the threshold between a front porch and other home areas. Because of such limitations, “zero-step” entryways and threshold-free doorways are an ideal improvement that any reputable home improvement contractor can design and install, and for which Canadian tax benefits may be available. Many disabled persons use wheelchairs that are either manually operated or battery powered and, as a result, doorways and entrances need to be a minimum width of 36-inches.
Wheelchair Ramps and Handrails
Wheelchair ramps are one of the simplest and most cost-effective special needs renovations that can be installed, and can be integrated into the front, rear, or the side entrances of most homes. In many cases, certain home improvements qualify for Canadian tax benefits or energy savings rebate programs through the federal or provincial governments. Here are the requirements for wheelchair ramps and handrails:
- The ramp must have a maximum gradient of 1 in 12.
- The ramp must have a minimum width of 900 millimeters or 35.4 inches.
- For level landings – at the bottom of the ramp, or the area between one ramp and the next, or the top of the ramp – the landing must be 920 millimeters (36.2 inches) wide and 1500 millimeters (59 inches) long.
- There must be colour contrast strips at all level landings.
- The ramps must have edge protection.
- Handrails must be constructed in all cases where stairs are present.
- Stairs that are more than 43 and 5/16 inches wide, and between 31 and a half and 37 and 63/64 inches tall, require the installation of handrails.
According to some studies, the average person who lives to be 75 can expect to spend 18 months collectively in the bathroom, perhaps more for a disabled person. Obviously, navigating and using a toilet, sink, and shower presents unique challenges, many of which can be mitigated if you consider the following advice:
- One improvement that may qualify for Canadian tax benefits is the installation of a “Roll-In No-Slip Shower” for wheelchair-bound persons. These are larger than average shower stalls, almost like self-contained mini-rooms, that allow a person in a wheelchair to roll into and use the shower without ever having to leave the wheelchair.
- Talk to a home improvement specialist about installing a fold-down shower seat which makes it easier for someone physically challenged to take a shower and wash themselves.
Other bathroom improvements can go a long way toward improving the daily routine for a disabled person. For even greater access, consider wheelchair accessible bathroom vanities and raised toilet seats, or toilet stalls with grab bars. In many cases, emergency monitoring services can be installed throughout the home, many of which either qualify for Canadian tax benefits or can reduce monthly homeowner’s insurance premiums.