Tiny homes are a great option for folks who want to scale back and live a more simplistic lifestyle.
However, tight corners, small rooms, and limited resources mean that tiny homes are generally considered inaccessible if you have a mobility disability or rely on assistance.
You should always weigh the pros and cons of a tiny home before buying one yourself. But, even the smallest of tiny homes can be made accessible with enough planning and adjustments.
Benefits of Owning a Tiny Home
Tiny homes aren’t commonly associated with accessibility. This is due to the snug fit that comes with the limited footprint. Most tiny homes also rely on an array of ladders and tight doorways to make the most of the available space. However, owning a tiny home can actually be a pathway to independence if you live with a disability.
Tiny homes are built with functionality at their core. There’s no wasted space and every design choice is made with your essential needs in mind. You don’t have to work around the original blueprints when building your own home, and can install as many aids, ramps, and rails as you need.
Some of the best tiny homes are built on a single floor, too. This can be particularly useful if you’re aging or live with a mobility-related disability. Single-floor homes like Tyler’s have all you need and are surprisingly spacious considering their small footprint.
Tiny homes can help you save money, too. Unfortunately, living with a disability can be extremely costly. Social change is needed to reduce the cost of living for folks with disabilities but, until then, a tiny home may be the answer if you’re looking to save money. Living in a tiny home can save you up to $1000 per month on utilities and free up cash to help you lead a better quality of life.
Tiny homes aren’t beholden to ADA standards or accessibility regulations. This means you’ll see plenty of tiny homes on the market that simply don’t meet your needs. Rather than falling in love with a home you can’t live in, assess each home based on its accessibility first.
Start by addressing common accessibility concerns like:
- Is there space to install a ramp?
- Are the doorways wide enough for assistive equipment and/or wheelchairs?
- Can you easily reach the sink? Can it be lowered?
- Do you have enough room to comfortably use the bathroom
- Is the space around the tiny home accessible? Will you need to file for modifications?
Answering these questions first can cut down your shortlist and help you make the most of your time and energy while house hunting.
Assessing prospective tiny homes is particularly important if you want to downsize as you age. Before buying, ensure you have scope to make age-related modifications like:
- Installing grab bars for toilets and tubs
- Rearranging furniture and fixtures for clearer, wider pathways
- Adding extra lighting in dim-lit areas
- Placing threshold ramps in areas where access is limited by steps
- Installing modular ramps for access to your home
These modifications can save you from accidents as you age and help you retain your independence. They also make your home a safe space for other folks with similar disabilities, meaning you can invite friends and family over without having to worry about accessibility.
Tiny homes are cheaper than traditional homes. You may not even need a mortgage to pay for your new home and your utility bills will be reduced drastically. However, building accessibility into your tiny home will raise your costs.
Before you head down to the home improvement store, draw up a home renovation budget. A clear budget will help keep your costs down and will ensure that you don’t have to worry about finances while installing the accommodations you need. Consult tiny-home builders while creating your budget, as they’ll have a better idea of the cost of parts and labor needed to modify your home.
Itemize your budget during the planning phase. You know which assistive tools you need in your home, and can pick specific goods before working with a contractor. Look into smart features, too, as these can drastically improve your quality of life. Itemizing your budget will help you forecast costs and prevent you from going over budget.
Consider off-season renovations if you want to save a little extra. Contractors aren’t as busy in the winter and many will offer cheaper rates during the colder months. You’re already used to living in a small space, so consider checking into a hotel or Airbnb while the work is completed.
Accessibility is always a concern if you are aging or live with a disability. Simple modifications like ramps and grab bars can improve your quality of life and make life in your tiny home that much easier. If you’re planning to renovate a tiny home, consider working with a professional tiny-home contractor who can make suggestions and provide an accurate estimate of the costs involved.
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