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How to Make Affordable, Eco-Friendly Home Modifications without Breaking the Bank

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If you are living with someone who has a disability, or if you have one yourself, home modifications may be necessary. But not all modifications are green, and as someone who cares about doing your part to preserve our precious planet, this is something to keep in mind.

Making modifications to your home that are eco-friendly yet affordable is possible if you know which products and materials to choose and which projects will be durable and last long enough to be worth the time and money you put into them. While it may be nice to remodel your bathrooms and kitchen, build a single-level addition, or install elevators instead of stairs, these projects are costly. There are other modification projects you can choose that will make your home more accessible without breaking the bank; the bonus is that they will keep your energy or water bills low and not take a lot of cash to complete.

This guide, courtesy of the OneHandReview, can give you some ideas to explore, as well as some tips to save money.

Always Aim for Safety

The best rule of thumb to follow when making home modifications to improve accessibility is to aim for improved safety. If you cannot afford to remodel a bathroom to include a wheel-in shower stall, be sure to install grab bars in the tub and shower area as well as on either side of the toilet. To make these modifications more eco-friendly, opt for stainless steel grab bars that are 100% recyclable. You should also install a tub transfer seat that will help your loved one take a bath or shower more safely.

You should also consider the flooring in your bathroom and kitchen when making modifications to improve accessibility. Some flooring is much more slippery than others, and it is critical to the safety and well-being of everyone in your household that you install flooring that will not cause slips or falls. Keep in mind that floor materials have a coefficient of friction with values ranging from 0 to 1, and the lower numbers indicate flooring that is more slippery.

Flooring with a coefficient of friction near 0.5 is considered slip-resistant and includes hardwood, some types of ceramic tile, sheet vinyl with an embossed surface, luxury vinyl tiles, and laminate flooring boards. While some low-pile carpet is slip-resistant, carpet, in general, can make it difficult for a person in a wheelchair to move around in the home. However, not all slip-resistant flooring is eco-friendly; cork is one non-slip flooring material that is exceptionally eco-friendly and affordable.

Alter the Height of Toilet Seats

It can be difficult for a person with disabilities to use a toilet that is lower than 17” or higher than 19”. By altering the height of your toilet seats, you will ensure that your loved one with a disability has access to the toilet that is at the correct height for her. You can install a raised seat, or you can replace your existing toilet with one that is the correct height and that allows for more accessibility; undercut bowls that allow for toe clearance in a gap of at least 9” between the bottom of the toilet and the floor are recommended by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Wall-mounted toilets are a top pick for bathroom accessibility because they can be hung on the wall at the correct height and allow for more than enough toe clearance. If you opt for a toilet that is high efficiency, you’ll reduce your water usage by 20% or more, which saves hundreds or even thousands of gallons of water per year. Look for a WaterSense toilet when making your selection to ensure that you are saving water while making your bathroom more accessible to your loved one.

Make Sink Modifications

If you cannot afford to lower your sinks to make them more accessible, there are other changes you can make so it is easier for your loved one to wash her hands, wash dishes, and do other tasks that require water. One modification is to remove the vanity cabinet from the sink so that if the person is in a wheelchair she can get to the sink more easily. Another option is to change the faucet and handles that control the water.

Single-lever handles that control water temperature and flow rate make it easier for a person to control the water with one hand; the flow rate control is an eco-friendly option that helps the water user avoid wasting water. Hand-held sprayers that come out of the bottom of spigots are recommended because the control is on the head itself.

Know When to Call in the Pros

Although calling in a professional to help make modifications to your home may sound like an expensive option to explore, consider this: Calling in an expert now may be cheaper than calling one after you’ve made a mistake by installing it yourself.

One service worth investing in is window repair. Bringing plenty of natural light into the home can help to ensure your safety when getting around, and it's good for your mental health, too. So, if your windows are foggy or are damaged in another way, it's a good idea to hire a pro to replace the windows (here, you can go the eco-friendly route by opting for energy-efficient windows such as PVC or fiberglass). When searching for double hung window repair near me, try to focus on websites like Angi that help you connect with the top specialists in and around your area. This way, you can match with someone you trust.

With a few inexpensive modifications, you can make your home more accessible for your loved one with disabilities. By making sure your modifications are eco-friendly, you will be doing your part to conserve resources and save some money on utility bills.

By Annabelle Harris

Find more of her work here:

Image via Pixabay by Espressolia

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