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who's best to advise for wheelchair alterations?

Can anyone explain who they’ve had advice from when remodelling their home to suit a wheelchair user?

I currently only use my wheelchair outside but anticipate I’ll need it inside at some point in the future (PPMS). My bungalow has narrow doors, corridors and tight corners so isn’t wheelchair friendly. We had planned to replace the kitchen this year, and a few other bits, and thought we could just widen the corridor and door to it for now. Then we found we have a huge expensive damp problem and have to move out while all the concrete floors are dug up and replaced - nightmare. But we figure while we’re at it we may as well look at sorting out the bungalow now. Not doing everything, but getting the structure right, doors and access etc. And even considering a complete remodel, maybe moving the kitchen to make the bungalow flow better, if that’s even feasible.

But I just don’t know who to go to to get help with this. I thought it sounded like a job for an architect, but the ones I’ve tried so far have all said it’s too small a job for them, they don’t seem to be interested if there isn’t an extension involved. I know at some point I need a structural engineer as we definitely need RSJs for moving walls, but I kind of want the ideas before I get someone in for the detailed design. I have the age concern trades directory and I’m now thinking maybe I need to ring round the builders in there, but I worry it’s too vague for them at the moment.

Who have you used for this kind of thing? I don’t know anyone who’s done something like this and am really confused knowing where to start.

How is your bungalow constructed? When was it built? Mine is 70s so can pretty much replace all the walls with stud, get a surveyor to have a look,tell you which walls or parts of that you are safe to remove. does your town have a forum? parish mags are a really good source, advertising is so cheap and word spreads if they are a bit iffy! there are 3 or 4 who draw plans and probably half a dozen builders who offer references if you don’t get one delivered look up the phone number of your local vicar and let him know, you can usually pick one up in local shops (local to the church!) always look at ours it’s the same one as at our previous house so can keep up with what’s going on! &

You need to contact your local Adult Social Care team, they will have an OT come out and assess your home.

Mine offered me a grant, and said they could organise a contractor to do the work for me.

However, because I also had an appointment with NHS Wheelchair Services, I was able to get a narrow powerchair, a Quickie Salsa M2, which is easy to drive around my narrow doorways and corridor, so I didn’t need to make changes to my bungalow.

The OT did, however, get my home fitted ramps and grabrails for the bathroom.

So minor home adaptations for me, because I got a more expensive narrow mid-wheel powerchair, which I have

for 5 years on free prescription from the NHS.

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I think you need a really good builder who can think creatively about what you have, what you need, and can come up with a revised floor plan that’s achievable for the least amount of money you can spend.

They are few and far between. We had someone who was really quite creative and managed to change our bathroom and in the process change the doorway into our main bedroom making both accessible. He in the short term made our rear entrance accessible, and later altered our front door / porch, giving that a ramp, level access and wide doors.

I still manage to bash all the doorways with my wheelchair. We’ve had a painter come and do some touching up on those!

But we didn’t need to knock down any supporting walls so no RSJs needed.

Do you have friends who’ve had building work done who could recommend anyone? All our neighbours end up using the same people as us, generally we find someone who can do roofs or general building and our neighbours pinch them.

Whoever you end up using, get some checkable references from previous happy customers. Our chap was actually someone my OH had known for many years, so was trustworthy.

Best of luck.

Sue

I’m interested in this thread. Same as you, my need for the manual wheelchair indoors has become more frequent these last few weeks. The motorised chair stays in the van for outdoor use, where it is essential. Our local council has announced that there is now funding available for home adaptation grants, (up to a set maximum figure). It’s means tested but I’m confident we’ll be ok. I am about to apply today. Is there any grant you can apply for? I have no idea what can be done. The cottage style bungalow is tiny. We refitted the bathroom years ago, before ms,and have a walk in shower. Wet room style. However, it’s fine when I use the rollator but I can’t access it with the wheelchair. Fall waiting to happen. My understanding from when we applied and got the grant for the ramp outside, is that after application is received, someone comes to inspect the site and discuss what you are asking for. Then we got 2 quotes from builders and sent these in. We got approval and work commenced. It was inspected on completion before payment was made. Sorry, I have waffled a bit. I’m trying to say, the initial visit from the local council guy gave us a few ideas for what was possible. I’m hoping it will be the same this time as I can’t see how anything can be altered. I don’t know if it would be feasible to have a small extension put on somewhere. That’s for them to advise i hope.

Thanks for the advice peeps. It sounds like there isn’t a one size fits all, I probably need to put the time in m Ringing round builders, surveyors and so on and expect to kiss a lot of frogs before I find my building prince. I’m lucky enough to still be working full time and was really hoping for a silver bullet that would avoid the need to take time off for all those calls…ah well, MS is never easy!

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