Comment From George: How can I find out how old my house is?
Rob Romasco: Usually city or county records indicate when the house was built. Your city or county real estate assessment division should be a good place to start for that information.
Comment From Cindy: What can I do to make my grandmother's house safer? I don't have a lot of money for upgrades but I am worried about her falling.
Rob Romasco: There are lots of free things you can do around your grandmother's house. One idea is to remove tripping hazards, such as small throw rugs and electrical cords. There are also low-cost things, like making sure there is good lighting around the house, including lamps and overhead lights. You can increase wattage and add nightlights. These are simple, don't cost much and make a big difference.
Comment From SANDY HOLLAND: I refuse to make ugly "old" changes to my house. Why aren't there any decorators I can work with who specialize in making my home safe for me but still pretty.
Rob Romasco: There are some great-looking products out there that are truly practical and attractive. Grab bars are a great example – there are terrific ones that look like towel racks, in all kinds of finishes.
For those who have room in their budgets, there are professionals who can help. They're called certified aging in place specialists. These "CAPS" builders and remodelers can help ensure universal design features are included in a new construction or remodel. You can find CAPS professionals listed here.
Comment From David Teller: My wife had a stroke two months ago and is in a wheelchair now; her nurse recommends we make changes to the house to make it easier for her. How much money can I budget for this project? I need to update my home so I can fit her wheelchair.
Rob Romasco: Mr. Teller, this is a question we get quite often, so I’m glad you asked it. We can’t really provide an estimate, but I would recommend that you talk to a contractor to help you evaluate what can be done and at what cost. Here is an article about How to Hire a Contractor.
I’d also recommend that you look into certified aging in place (CAPS) specialists. You can find them listed here. Best of luck to you and your wife, Mr. Teller.
Comment From David Teller: Will making these changes impact the value of my home, good or bad?
Rob Romasco: Typically, the improvements you make – when done well – will improve the value of your home, especially if they’re done with an eye to good design.
Comment From Guest: How wide should a doorway be for wheelchair access?
Rob Romasco: From what I understand, the doorway should be between 32 and 36 inches, depending on where the door is. I would recommend you talk to one of the professionals from the lists noted above to assess your needs.