Affordable Ways to Make Your Home Handicap Accessible


Vector cartoon characters and wheelchairs

If you or a loved one is facing a disability or physical limitation that requires a wheelchair, cane or walker, you are going to be facing some important lifestyle changing decisions. One of your concerns will undoubtedly be how to get around the house.

There are certainly any number of major reconstruction projects that you can undertake, including adding a walk-in shower or lowering all of your cabinets. However, there are also many simple and affordable ways to make a home handicap accessible

Entries, Walkways and Doorways


Make sure that floors are level and that any problem transitions are evened out to avoid tripping or catching – Threshold ramps, as seen below, are a great way to even out door ways.



A handicap accessible door should be at least 3 feet wide. However, it is not always possible or affordable to widen a doorway to accommodate mobility aids. If you have sliding glass doors, consider replacing them with French doors that offer a wider opening. Replacing doorknobs with easy-grip handles is one more way to ease entering and exiting a home for someone with physical limitations



If you want to better accommodate a wheelchair, remove the doors from cabinets below the sink so that the wheelchair user can get close.

Cabinets and countertops

To make the kitchen more user friendly for people with reaching, bending or standing limitations, move dishes and items stored in upper cabinets to the bottom of the cabinet and move items stored in lower cabinets to the top shelves. You may want to also invest in something to help you reach items such as a “Reacher”




Showers and bathtubs

Apply bath safety treads to the floor of tubs and showers to avoid slipping. Replace your shower head with a handheld shower kit to limit reaching or stretching that can put a physically limited person at risk.

Hand Held Shower

Grab bars

Suction Cup Grab BarsWet and slippery are two things any person with limited mobility wants to avoid. So, bathrooms can be particularly concerning. Install grab bars in and around toilets, showers and bathtubs to increase bathroom safety.

Suction Cup Grab Bars

Small bathroom? Here’s an idea

Handicap Accessible Bathroom

See more at:

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How To Protect Your Home From a Hurricane

Hurricanes have been a major factor in the damage caused by natural disasters here in the United States. From Hurricane Katrina to Hurricane Sandy, it feels like almost everyone is vulnerable. Even though hurricane season doesn’t start until June 1st, it’s never too early to start planning ahead.  Here are some tips to prevent your home from falling victim to a hurricane.

Impact-resistant windows

Impact-resistant windows, as their name indicates, can hold up against impacts from debris blown from the high speed windows of hurricanes. These windows generally come in two types. The first kind consists of three layers – two layers of laminated glass, and one layer in between of a shatter-proof membrane. Set within a sturdy frame, this type of frame makes it nearly impossible for wind and water to penetrate your home.

 The second type of frame involves a shatter-proof film placed over the glass, which helps keep the shards intact should the glass break. This second type is less durable in general than the first, but its durability really depends on the make and assembly.

 If you’re preparing for a hurricane, don’t put masking or duct tape over the windows, as this doesn’t do anything. If you decide not to replace your windows, or you’re short on time, considering boarding them up.

Elevate your home

This is quite a drastic measure, and you should only consider it if your area is below sea level and floods often. Elevating your home can be quite costly and the regulations vary depending on where you live. Contact your local disaster-relief area for more information.

Protect your roof

After Katrina, almost every house the Greater New Orleans area had blue tarps covering the damage done to their roofs. To protect your roof before a disaster, buy hurricane straps to secure the roof to the house. Make sure no shingles are loose, as these can become violent projectiles in high winds. Seal up any small openings where wires might be, to minimize wind and water damage.


If you have trees near your house, cut away any dead branches you see. If the winds are strong enough, there’s not much you can do about the whole tree toppling over. However if you trim back some dead branches you could greatly minimize the damages to your house if the tree itself holds up.

 Prevention is always better than cleaning up the mess later, so start preparing now. Hurricane season doesn’t start until June 1, and hurricanes usually don’t meet a US coast until much later than that. However if you start now, you’ll have plenty of time to prepare your home for whatever weather comes its way.

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Bamboo: The Better Alternative?

While Asian countries have used bamboo for years to build houses and structures, bamboo is a relatively new idea to us in the West. It is likely that you think of wood, bricks, carpets and tiles when considering to build a house. Bamboo, however, is probably allocated to a small spot on the windowsill where it can grow in a cute little spiral. So, where does bamboo fall into the mix?

Bamboo has recently been hailed as an environmentally friendly alternative to hardwood floors. Bamboo acts in many ways like wood, but is in fact a tree-like grass. It is also one of the fastest-growing plants in the world, with some species being able to grow 3 feet in just 1 day! In comparison, hardwood trees can take up to 70 years to mature. The following are some more ways in which you can compare bamboo and hardwood flooring.

Hardness: Just as there as many types of hardwoods, from pine to oak to teak, there are all several varieties of bamboo. Hardness depends on species, time of harvest and how it is manufactured. Good quality bamboo (such as Moso) can have a Janka Hardness scale rating of about 1,400. However the rating can vary greatly, and within about the same range for both hardwoods and bamboo, from about 600-2000.

Appearance: A point in the hardwoods column is that, because there are so many different kinds, you can buy woods in a rainbow of natural (and artificial) colors, depending on your preference. As where bamboo must be treated, stained or carbonized to significantly change its color. Carbonization for example makes for a darker color, however it also softens the wood.

For bamboo flooring, you have two choices: vertical and horizontal. This difference pertains to how the bamboo is stranded together. Horizontal bamboo flooring is laid out and its pattern has the typical “knuckles” you see on a stalk of bamboo, giving it a more natural look. Vertical bamboo is turned on its side and stranded together in small strips, giving the flooring a busier look.

Environmental Impact: Because bamboo grows much more quickly than hardwood trees and is able to naturally regenerate, it is a common perception that it is the more environmentally friendly of the two. However, the real picture is slightly more complicated. Most bamboo comes all the way from Asia, leading to extra fuel needed for transportation. Hardwoods produce about as much product as bamboo in the same amount of time, and the longer wait time equals fewer resources needed each year to cut and harvest the product. Additionally, bamboo is not unique in being able to grow back from its base, as this is a common practice in forestry.

There really isn’t a bad choice when you’re choosing between bamboo and hardwood flooring. A lot depends on the type of wood or bamboo. In general, look for quality in whichever you choose, as you’re likely to get what you pay for.

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How To Reduce Traffic Noise From Your Home

Do you love your home but hate its proximity to busy streets? Do you find yourself constantly listening to horns and sirens? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then you might have thought about doing something to soundproof your home. You’re probably wondering, short of building a 10-foot wall around my house, what can I do? Fortunately for you, we have a simple guide for you to follow.

1.) Identify the weak spots. Did you ever watch that TV show The Weakest Link? Your house is only as strong as its weakest point. Walk around your house and pay close attention to sound. Where is the noise leaking in from? Common areas for leakage include doors and windows. Check under the front door to see if there’s a gap. Listen by the windows and check the seal. Even if you have a nice thick door or dual pane windows, noise could seep through if there’s a gap somewhere.
So what do you do? If the door’s your problem, you can buy a bottom door seal – usually less than $10! If the seal around your windows is the problem, fill in the cracks with some caulk, get some weatherstripping, or if you want to go all the way you can replace the frame.

2.) Change the windows. If you decide that caulking or weatherstripping is not enough, you can change up your windows. One option is to add an extra pane to your current window, with a space of air in between. This layout is specially designed to block out noise. Additionally you should check your window’s Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating. Typically single-pane windows have a 22-25 STC rating. That rating can go up to 27-33 for dual-pane. If you go this route, make sure to increase your window’s STC rating by at least 5 points. Otherwise, you won’t be able to tell the difference and you’ll be wasting your money.

3.) Check the small stuff. Look at your electrical outlets, pipes and vents, and add some insulation wherever there’s a leak. It seems small but taking care of the little things can go a long way.

4.) Upgrade the walls. It is very likely that your noise problem is coming from the windows and doors than the walls. But if you want to go all the way and you don’t mind spending the extra cash, bulk up the walls. When you go to the store, pass up the fluffy pink insulation and get sheetrock instead, as this will do a better job at blocking out the noise. Also consider getting a noiseproofing sealant, which you can put between layer of sheetrock to further block out the noise. I suggest hiring a professional.

5.) Want to keep the noise out of your backyard too? Unfortunately to shelter your yard from traffic noise, you’re probably going to have to build that 10-foot wall we were talking about earlier. However, you can offset this ruckus by installing a fountain or other noise-making water feature.

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What To Do When You Don’t Have A Closet

Have you ever been in the situation where you did have a place to hang your clothes? Maybe you didn’t look quite carefully enough at the new apartment you just rented. Or maybe you’re traveling and the accommodations are somewhat wanting. Or maybe your parents decided to convert your closet into a storage facility when you weren’t looking. Never fear! Here are some tips on what to do when your closet space is limited.

1.) Get a free-standing clothes rack. You can find these in a variety of places and styles, depending on what you’re looking for. The most standard rack will look something like a hotel cart you bring your luggage up in. I found one of those at a Dollar General once for just $10. However if you’re going for more than just the bare essentials, you can find racks with a zip up case, shelves and maybe even a few pockets like this one here. Another great feature is that they’re relatively portable. If you have a dance recital or school play to participate in, these are perfect for setting up in the corner of a dressing room.


2.) Coat Hooks. Coat hooks can be a handy and often stylish way of hanging up your clothes. Show off your personality with something practical! On the downside you can’t hang up as many garments this way. But on the otherhand, you might not want to cover up your artwork!

If you’re on the go, or if you’re only going to be somewhere temporarily, Command makes great wall hooks that won’t fall off your wall every 5 seconds, but won’t take the paint off either when you actually go to remove them.


3.) Get an armoire. So if you know that you’re going to be somewhere more permanently, and you want something nicer than a clothing rack, go for a wardrobe or an armoire. You can usually find ones that have both a hanging rod and shelves.


4.) Use a shower rod! If you have an appropriately spaced nook in your room, or you have an extra long shower rod, suspend it against two walls to hang your clothes.

If you want to separate it from the rest of your room, think about getting a second shower rod to create a barrier. And don’t waste those hooks! You can use those as hangers as well.


5.) Get (or make!) a clothes line. Probably the most simple of all of these is to use a good old fashioned clothes line. This can be as simple as getting some twine and tying it to two hooks on opposite walls.  A more expensive route would be to buy retractable lines from Sears or Bed Bath & Beyond. These can range anywhere from $20 to over $100. However you might enjoy easily setting up multiple lines and being able to retract them when necessary.

Displaying clothes line.png

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Rehabbing A Home

When buying property for rehabilitation, it is important to do your house clean-up and repairs in the proper order. You don’t want to get ahead of yourself or waste time and money on the project. Below are some steps to follow and the mistakes to avoid:


Assess The Project: Discuss The Design and Scope of Work

Once you have found a reliable and experienced contractor, discuss your ideas for the project with him. Decide whether to modify the layout of the house, what repairs will done and how they will be accomplished.

Construction; Blueprint reading; Project management; PMP; construction

Demolish and Clean It Out

Getting a dumpster is a crucial step when you rehab a house. Go in and remove all the trash and debris left behind from previous owners. Demolish any damaged sheetrock, ceiling tile, kitchen and bath fixtures, out dated appliances, etc.

Landscaping and Exterior

Always start remodeling the exterior first when you rehab a house. Take care of the roof, windows and siding to prevent damage to the inside of the property. Change all the locks on the doors to prevent vandalism and theft.

Electrical, Plumbing, Insulation, Drywall, and Paint

While the contractor or sub-contractors are working on the exterior, it’s a good time to have the electrician and plumber working inside. Have the electrician come out a day or two earlier to complete any rough wiring in the kitchen and bathrooms. When the electrical and plumbing are done, it is time to bring in the contractor to take care of any framing, insulation, drywall, paint, door installation, trim, etc.

Kitchen, Bath, and Flooring

To rehab a house successfully, the kitchen and bath installations are a crucial step. These are the most valuable upgrades to the house. At this time the sinks, tubs, vanities, toilets and cabinets will be installed by your contractors. Then, one of the last things to do to rehab a house is installing the floors. Depending on your market and property location, the type of floor will vary. The kitchen and bath will usually get ceramic tile or vinyl adhesive tile.

There you have it! Add on the finishing touches at the end and you will have a new beautiful home! Before moving forward, read through the some common mistakes to know what to avoid when rehabbing a home

 Biggest Rehabbing Mistakes

Big Mistake #1: A Lack of Extensive Research

Many years ago, I worked for a paint manufacturer and learn a valuable lesson: Painting is 80 per cent preparation and 20 per cent application. This very same rule applies to buying and rehabbing property. 90 per cent of your time will be spent locating and purchasing the property itself.

Big Mistake #2 Do All the Work Yourself to Save Money

As rehabbers, we can easily convince ourselves to do the work and save a few dollars. This train of thought is fraught with danger on two levels. Firstly, if the level of workmanship is substandard then this can and will affect your resale price. Experience has taught me one very important lesson: If you’re no good at it yourself, pay an expert to do it.

Big Mistake #3: No Exit Strategy

Firstly, never enter a project if you cannot afford any unforeseen holding costs. Secondly, there is no shame in holding a good property. If the market doesn’t agree with you at that particular time, then rent it out for twelve months.

Big Mistake #4: Spending Too Much on the Rehab

The great temptation of renovating is to do too much. While the “wow” factor is critical, you must keep your emotions out of the equation and strictly adhere to your budget. Allow for a buffer to cover any surprises (usually 10 to 15 per cent). I certainly fell into the ‘do too much’ trap during my early projects. Always have your costs estimated accurately prior to purchasing a property. Overall, understand that things can and do go wrong in this business. Now that you are aware of the pitfalls, you will be better prepared from the outset


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Spring is Here! Time to Attack the Dust in Your Home!

The weather has been so brutally cold this winter, so I think everyone is happy to see that spring is finally right around the corner!

That also means it is time for some more spring cleaning! Summertime is a common time for people to move to their rented summer homes. So, Landlords, you need to make sure that all your homes are being cleaned out.

Here is a quick list to make sure that you get all the levels of your home spick and span for you and your tenants!

1. Pre Clean

  • Pick up any leftover  clutter laying around the house
  • Wash and put away dishes if the are available
  • Clear and wipe any countertops in the kitchen

2. Top Zone

  • Dust or clean ceiling fans
  • Dust or wash light fixtures
  • Clean high windows
  • Change light bulbs & replace air filters

3. Middle-to-Top Zone (Eye Level)

  • Wash, iron, & re-hang curtains
  • Wash windows
  • Dust pictures, mirrors, clocks, & other wall hangings

4. Middle-to-Low Zone (Waist Level)

  • Polish wood furniture
  • Wash sheets & change bed linens
  • Scrub showers & bathtubs and clean toilets
  • Vacuum & spot clean upholstered furniture

5. Bottom Zone

  • Sweep hard floors
  • Vacuum rugs & carpets
  • Dust baseboards
  • Wash small area rugs

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Building Over Your Garage

Whether you’re tight on space or trying to increase the value of your home, an extension over the garage can be a great solution. Here is what you need to know about the process of building an additional area over your garage.

1.) Get a professional

Before you do anything, you’ll need to contact an engineer to ensure that your garage is up to snuff and capable of supporting extra weight. It’s possible that you will need to add support beams to give it extra stability. Additionally you’ll need to look at your foundation and make sure it runs deep enough.

2.) Keep with the flow

No one wants the addition on their house to look like a mismatched hodge-podge of building blocks. Keep with the original design of your house when considering windows, gables, colors, etc. If possible, add on to your house around the same time you give the rest of the exterior an upgrade. This will help create a seamless look.

3.) Insulate

Unless you’re wasting a lot of energy, your garage probably isn’t heated in the winter. That cold can creep up into your new space if you’re not careful. While you’re constructing the new addition, take some time and insulate it well. You’ll be thankful come winter.


4.) Plan your plumbing

You can add a bathroom above your garage, but plan wisely. Pipes need to stay warm, so you should avoid running them down the exterior walls. Also, coordinate when you plan to install your bathroom, so you can plan ahead of time when you want to shut off the water to the rest of the house.


5.) Design

Make sure the idea of what you want works with both the outside and the inside of the house. Avoid doors on corners bumping up against one another or a bedroom that leads directly to the stairs without a hallway.



If you’re looking to increase the value of your home by building an extension, think about whether it will be attached to the house. (Some garages are not attached.) While an unattached building might be great for a young adult, a family with young children might not see it as such a big bonus. Just to be sure, consult with a professional to see what kind of value you’re actually adding to your home.

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How To Organize Your Garage

Surveys show that only 30% of us use our garages for what they were meant for: our cars. As Americans we’ve gotten so used to putting everything in our garage that sometimes we forget that’s not what they were meant for. To help put your stuff in order, here are some tips for organizing your garage.

1.) Set aside a day or two. Depending on how cluttered your garage is, designate one or two days to be dedicated solely to your garage. Write it on the calendar, set alarms and tell your friends. Make it a priority.

2.) Enlist the help of your friends or family. Turn the day into a family day and get everyone to help out. It’ll go a lot faster and could make it a lot more fun.

3.) Assign three piles for your stuff: keep, sell or donate and throw away. Lay out tarps in the driveway and put your items according to their label on each tarp. A useful rule is: if you haven’t used something in the last three years, get rid of it. Donating items to your local charity is a great way to recycle and it’s often tax deductible.

4.) Relocate some items. Pet food and paper plates should go inside and away from bugs. Grills should be outside to keep your garage free of fumes. If you have a lawn mower and keep the gas in your garage, put a fire extinguisher nearby. You can never be too safe.

5.) Keep things off the ground as much as possible. Now that you have a smaller pile of stuff to put in your garage, try to keep things against the wall or in the corners as much as possible. Get a pegboard and hang up tennis rackets and tools. Put up some nails relocate bikes and ladders to the wall. Get open shelves to put against the wall where you can store plastic storage bins, cans and jar. You’ll free up a lot of space for your car and be able to maneuver around your garage a lot easier.

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Conserving Water

In honor of Water Conservation Day, here are some tips and tricks for conserving water around your house.

1.) If your shower fills up a one-gallon bucket in less than 20 seconds, replace the shower-head with an energy-efficient one.

2.) When should you water your lawn? If you walk across the lawn and leave footprints in your wake, it’s time to water.


3.) Cook food in as little water as possible. This will save water and retain more nutrients.

4.) If you drop ice on the floor, don’t throw it in the sink. Use it to water the plants.


5.) Don’t run the water in your sink waiting for hot water. Get an induction burner or a water heater to heat up water quickly. It will save you time and energy!

6.) Learn how to turn off your automatic watering systems in case of rain.

7.) Use a rain barrel to collect water from your gutters. Learn how here:

8.) Leave lower branches on trees and allow fallen leaves to cover the soil. The leaves will prevent a lot of evaporation.

9.) Limit your use of the garbage disposal. Instead, get a composite bin for your vegetable waste. You’ll save gallons of water!







10.) Scrape your dishes instead of rinsing them before washing. (*Tip* Try not to waste food! Eat what you can and compost what you can before scrapping.)






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