How To Retrofit Your Home for Accessibility For Walk In Tubs or Stair Lifts

Retrofitting a home creates a more comfortable and easy to access area for the disabled.  But, this type of design also works well for people that are aging or aging in place too, whether its for the bathroom via a walk in tub or any other addition.

Current Standards vs Client Needs

One example in standards vs what the client wants are doors.  The standard says that the doors should be 36 inches wide.  But, a lot of the remodelers out there call these doors knucklebusters.  Even though they are the standard, they can still be hard to get through.  This is why some remodelers choose a 42-inch door instead of a 36-inch door so the client has plenty of space to get through it.

Entryways And Stairs

If your client needs an affordable option, but also needs the home to be retrofit right away, here are a few features to consider:

  • Make sure that there is ample lighting in the entry doors.  Adding a motion sensor to the doorways is a great way to make sure that light will be turned on.
  • Remove any hazards from the entryway, sidewalk or walkways.  Make sure you also fix things like cracked pathways.
  • Add a bench or a receiving tray for packages to the front door.  A box is more difficult to get into / reach into, especially if they are in a wheelchair.
  • Add a nonslip, nonskid and secured runner to the stairs and make the entire stair lift operate as it should.  This will create fewer trip hazards and it will keep the carpet in place.
  • Remove toggle light switches and replace them with rocker switches.  Also be sure you place the switches further down than they normally would be.

On the other hand, if you have the money to spend and you have the time:

  • Hire a remodeler that specifically does a retrofit.  The remodeler should be familiar with disability accessibility or aging in place accessibility, depending on who your client is.

Bedrooms and Living Areas

  • It doesn’t matter if someone has a disability or is aging in place, creating a bedroom or sleeping area on the first floor should be your #1 priority.
  • Change at least 1 of the vanities in the bathrooms to a lower height and at least one with a higher height.
  • Instead of a step in shower, design a lower threshold or a roll in shower.  Step in showers can be the biggest cause of injury.


Obviously, the amount of change is going to depend on how often the client uses the kitchen.

For a more affordable option or if you need the kitchen retrofitted now:

  • As with the vanity in the bathroom, there should be different height counters in the kitchen.  Some can be lower for easy access while others can be higher to allow them to roll under.
  • Cabinets should be placed further down as in a lower height, rather than higher up.
  • Remove knobs from cabinets and drawers and replace them with lever style handles.

For a costlier option that will take longer to design, plan and construct:

  • Find a remodeling company as well as a designer with a CAPS certification – Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist.  While CAPS has the word aging in place, CAPS can be for anyone that wants to stay in their home, even if they have a disability.
  • A CAPS contractor should replace ALL of the existing appliances with more accessible versions.
  • A CAPS contractor will also consider replacing or add options to aid in wheelchair users like higher toe kicks, roller under cooktops, or peg system storage for things like dishes.

Retrofitting isn’t just about meeting or exceeding accessibility standards.  It’s about listening to your clients and figuring out what they want.

How Much Will It Cost To Do Disability Remodeling?

Disability remodeling in order to adapt a home to accommodate someone with mobility issues can take a lot of work, money and time. Each adaptation that you take is going to be unique, depending on the person, the function, and the home itself.

According to the ADA, a bathroom that is remodeled for accommodating someone with a disability will cost on average, $9,000.

Not every type of disability is going to need the same type of changes so, while $9,000 is the average, it’s not a definite number according to cost information researched by

Beyond disabilities, if a person would like to remodel a home for an “age in place” adaptation, a lot of the samples below can be used as price points for age-related mobility issues.

The Most Common Types Of Changes

Installing curb free walk-in or roll installs in the bathroom: $5,000 to $6,000
Installing grab bars near the toilet, in the shower tall and near the tub: $140 for 3 bars.

  •  Lowering kitchen cabinets and counters: $15,000
  • Installing counters at different heights: $500 to $1,500
  • Installing a ramp: $400 to $4,000
  • Purchasing a ramp: $100 to $400
  • Installing a chairlift: $3,000 to $4,000
  • Widening hallways, doorways, etc: $700 each
  • Installing handrails: $100 per railing


Depending on how much time you plan to spend in your kitchen, the cost of remodeling might be between $15,000 and $20,000. This depends on how much time you plan to have in the kitchen, what you plan on doing – eating or cooking, or both.

If you need to change your kitchen design, it’s a good idea to hire a kitchen designer or a design firm. This individual or company would draw up plans (a blueprint) for the space. You would then need to hire a general contractor to do all of the work for you.


The bathroom is one of the most common rooms to remodel for a disability because while you might not spend a lot of time in the kitchen, you will spend time every day in the bathroom getting ready for the day, showering, etc. To renovate a bathroom for a disability, this will usually cost around $9,000 for a typical bathroom remodel. Why not see the entire bathroom remodel cost breakdown from the friendly team over at

Stairs can be a huge problem when it comes to mobility. Whether the individual cannot walk, has a hard time walking or needs an object to help them walk – like a cane or a walker, the price will vary for stairs and stairways.
While installing a chairlift will cost around $3,000 to $4,000, railings will cost less money at around $100 per 1 linear foot which will cost around $1,000 for 10 linear feet.


Beyond installation, planning and building, you also need to consider labor costs. Usually, a carpenter will cost $70 on average, an hour, while a plumber can cost anywhere between $45 and $65 an hour.
Depending on the amount of work that needs to be done or how you plan to change the home, you also might need a permit to be filed with your city. This is especially true if you plan on making sure that your home meets or exceeds certain ADA regulations.

You can also visit the US Department of Labor for more information how much a permit might cost in your area or if you need one at all!

If you need more information or you’re wondering about prices, the best place to start would be a company – that offers disability remodeling. Usually, these companies have carpenters, electricians, and contractors that cut heating costs ( get a quote here ) or that are either tied into their remodeling business or they have references to these other services that they can lend out to you.

Aging in Place? Here’s Some Remodeling Tips For Seniors

Healthcare providers are finding that more and more seniors are interested in remodeling because they want to age in place.  That is, to age in their homes.  It’s more comfortable, it has memories, and it allows them to still live life, without being stuck in a nursing home.

If you or a loved one plan to age in place, you will need to add a few adjustments to the home in order to allow for; safety, comfort, health.

Senior-friendly remodeling should be done long before you need to use these advancements.  This way you have a handle on what needs to be put in place, what repairs need to be done, and you can do so while you are still cognizant.

There are really 4 areas you need to focus on.


You need to be able to get around your home with ease.  Whether this means walking on your own, using a cane, a walker or a wheelchair down the line.  It’s preferable that you have a single story home.

If not, then a majority of the adjustments should be made on the first floor.  bedrooms, for example, are easier to access if they are on the first floor and you don’t need to worry about steps.

Mobility includes:

  • Easy and accessible paths from one room to another.
  • Objects moved out of the way so you don’t trip.
  • Clear turning space for the living room, bathroom, kitchen, and stairs.
  • Non-glare, anti-slip carpets and surfaces – both inside and out.

Railing and Grips

The bathroom is one of the most important areas to focus on when it comes to your age in place remodeling.  If you do not have a bathroom on the first floor, considering adding one. See a bathroom installation costs guide to get a good idea of what this will set you back.

  • If you don’t have a first-floor bathroom, add a chairlift or an elevator to get from the first floor to the second floor
  • Install railings and grips around places like the sink, tub, shower, and toilet.  These will ensure that you have support.  Falls are the #1 cause of injuries in seniors!
  • There should also be a bench in the shower
  • Slip-resistant flooring should also be placed in the bathroom – as well as the shower.

Senior Friendly Handles and Knobs

When we get older our hands tend to get weaker, add in the chance for arthritis and it becomes almost impossible to turn everyday doorknobs, open drawers and turn on/off bathroom faucets.

  • Lever handles work really well for faucets, but you can also find pedal controller faucets too.
  • Front loading washers and dryers
  • Rocker light switches can be used instead of toggle switches – they use less pressure to turn the switches on and off.
  • Looped handles for drawers and cabinets are easier to pull than rounded knobs.

happy elderly couple

Security and Safety

Make sure that if you or the senior has issues with seeing or hearing, that you add things throughout the home, such as visual cues.  This can include:

  • Light switches by every entranceway to a new room
  • Audible, as well as visual notifications letting them know that; someone is ringing the bell, the telephone is ringing, the smoke detectors are going off, etc.
  • The home should also be wired for security.
  • Secure windows in place see popular window replacement brands
  • The home should also be directly wired to the EMS, fire department, police and when possible, family members that are in close proximity to the senior.

Aging in place can be a really wonderful experience for seniors, but aging in place is different for everyone.  Because of this, it’s important to hire someone such as a remodeler and a designer that can listen to your needs and create a modified home that really suits your needs and requirements.