Nick's Renovation Plans
Nick took a leap and decided to purchase his own apartment. It's a little bare at the moment, but he sees it as a blank slate to create exactly what he wants. He's put a lot of research into his renovation plans and he wants to share so that others can learn from his experience.
Here are Nick's top four suggestions for those thinking about renovating a home for accessibility.
1) DO LOTS OF RESEARCH
There are many different ways to make a place accessible and not all are created equal. Ask your friends, speak with your occupational therapist (OT), search online, visit accessible homes, whether in person or online.
By doing lots of research, Nick discovered several features that will take the accessibility of his home one roll further than he'd originally imagined, especially in his kitchen.
Instead of the standard accessible side opening oven, Nick's oven door will open forward and slide completely underneath, so he can access the oven from all sides and maximise the space of his kitchen.
Instead of having his counter simply lowered to his height, Nick's kitchen counter, including stove top and sink, will be height adjustable with the push of a button. This is not mentioned in the video, because Nick only secured funding afterwards through a grant, which also came from doing his research!
2) BE PREPARED- NAVIGATING FUNDING CAN BE TRICKY
Nick lives in South Australia, so Disability SA is currently the funding body that helps with accessibility renovation costs. However, this will likely change significantly when the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) is fully rolled out across South Australia. Nick has found that anything that currently exists in the property and needs to be made accessible will generally be covered. Anything that he needs that there is not already a version of in the property, he will most likely have to pay for.
For example, Disability SA will pay for a new accessible kitchen counter and the removal of the cupboards underneath so he can use the space. Because Nick is losing his cupboard space, he needs a pantry. Disability SA will not cover the cost of a pantry because it does not currently exist in the property.
Another example is Disability SA will fund to have the current shower replaced with a roll in shower and they will also pay for some of the new shower area to be retiled. They will not cover for the whole bathroom to be tiled. Because the roll in shower will make the bathroom a wet room, Nick has decided to pay the gap and have the whole bathroom tiled.
He’s also found that the funding from Disability SA limits your style options. But, if there is a colour or style of something that you want that is outside of the options they present to you, you can pay extra to get what you want. Remember, your home should not only be accessible, but a place you enjoy being in.
Nick hopes that the NDIS will give more flexibility and control to people who are renovating their home for accessibility.
3) GOOD WORKING RELATIONSHIPS ARE IMPORTANT
Nick worked very closely with his OT to create renovation plans that suit him. There was a lot of going back and forth, with either Nick or his OT making suggestions and then figuring out together if it will work. Nick says it is important to know yourself and trust what you want. This takes time. Just because your OT comes up with a suggestion, doesn’t mean you have to go with it. You should feel comfortable enough with your OT to have an honest conversation about your wants and needs. This is your place, so make sure that you are happy with the plans.
4) PRIORITISE, BUDGET AND PLAN AHEAD
Unless you are very fortunate, it is likely you will not have the budget for everything you want at the start. Make sure you get your non-negotiables in the plans and then look at your wish list. If there is something you can’t afford at the start, maybe there is something you can do during renovation stage to make it easier to bring in later. For example, Nick would like an automatic front door so he can get in and out with ease. He is not sure if he has the budget for it at this stage, but he knows that in order to put the automation in, he needs an outlet above the door. He is preemptively putting in the outlet now during the renovation stage so that when he is able to purchase the door the foundation is ready for it.
Renovations have recently begun on Nick's property. We look forward to seeing how things develop!