Accessible Home for our Special Needs Family

Dream House

SOLD, the sign hanging outside our first home together as a married couple read. It was our plan to make that house our “happily ever after”. We loved that cute little two-story with it’s walkout basement leading to a sprawling backyard. We were content there and had so many dreams to remodel, keep adding to our garden, possibly add a pool or outdoor kitchen someday, and make it completely feel like ours. Nice neighbors and convenient distance to stores, schools, other community resources made it really hard to leave.

Wheelchair Handicap Accessible Home Cerebral PalsyYet with Roa’s diagnosis of cerebral palsy-quadraspastic, we learned that it wasn’t the right home for him. The wooden staircase lost it’s charm when carrying him up and down from his bedroom. The walkout basement was the only access to our backyard that, large as it was, also carried a pretty hefty incline for a walker or wheelchair. Even inside on any of the three floors, Roa had little room to practice moving in his gait trainer or wheelchair. Let’s just do some remodeling, we thought, yet simply remodeling the main bathroom to accommodate more space for adaptive toilet seat, a deeper tub to fit his bath chair and a handheld showerhead left us with a hefty bill.

So we faced the fact that it was time for our family to move on. We listed that sweet little house where we etched the heights of our boys on the door frame… and it sold.

Searching for a handicap accessible home is not an easy thing. There are houses listed as handicap accessible whose only feature is a wooden ramp to the front door. Even those kind of homes are few and far between in the real-estate game. We began looking for just any one story home in our budget that we could modify. With our many house tours, it became obvious that a true handicap accessible home is “barrier-free” meaning level surfaces from the driveway into the front door, no step-up into or down-to another room, wide hallways with angled corners, large bathrooms with support bars and roll-in showers. Another great feature of a fully accessible house is a large attached garage with a gradual incline from the home’s door for loading into a handicap accessible vehicle.

It is amazing to me all the little things that can make a home difficult for a person with physical needs. A kitchen island isn’t all too friendly at wheelchair height, a traditional doorknob is difficult to turn, and the floor trim separating the hardwood from the tile floor makes just enough of a bump to make maneuvering that manual wheelchair over a pain.

Our dreams for Roa are big dreams. We want him to feel included in our everyday functions. We want him to feel free enough to move around in his walker or wheelchair with some independence. We also, of course, want to save on our bodies from carrying and lifting him for everything, and always directing his mobility aid around corners or away from stairs.

So we gave up our search for a ready-built home and decided to go ahead and move forward with the plan to build our own. I hope to share a lot of our journey here with you. It will not be our dream home, but it will have what we need. More importantly, it will have what Roa needs as he grows from a preschooler to a young adult. This home will be the home where dreams are worked towards as goals.

As hard as it was to read that SOLD sign and know that a chapter in our life was closed, we knew we could no longer live by the motto, “Just Bloom Where You’re Planted”. It was time to uproot so Roa can grow.

4 replies
  1. Karen
    Karen says:

    Thank you so much for sharing ~ I am living the exact same thing right now, you are just a couple steps in front of us. Looking forward to sharing your journey.

  2. Sharon Tango
    Sharon Tango says:

    so we are you living right now while you are building your home? We are going through a similar situation and would love to hear about your journey.

  3. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    Hi there

    I loved reading your story, I could have written it myself. Our son is 18 and has CP too. We are nearly finished our purpose built home, after years of living in unsuitable houses. People think just put them in a bungalow, they’ll be fine, but it is so much more than that. We have made the rooms really big, the doors automatic or sliding and extra wide, no kitchen island or ramps outside, and an attached garage. We have planned it for years and we can’t wait to move in. I wish you all the best for your build. We live in Northern Ireland so none of our suppliers will be of any use to you, although the sliding door company is English so I can give you the name if you like. Good luck, we can live anywhere but our special kids can’t so this is the route we have to go down. And we are lucky enough to be able to afford it!


  4. Laura L
    Laura L says:

    does anyone have their floor plans for their wheelchair accessible homes that they can and would share??? I am working on a remodel project for a family and would love some tried and true floor plans. my email is thanks to anyone willing to share!

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