How Much Does it Cost to Make My Indianapolis Home Handicap-Accessible?

Oseye Boyd
Written by Oseye Boyd
Updated June 15, 2021
handicap accessible chair lift
Terry Overlorf installs a stair lift at an Angie's List member's home. (Photo by Steve C. Mitchell)

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As a nurse, Southside resident Jennifer Windisch regularly sees the importance of handicap accessibility in homes. She also understands on a personal level as her father and a sister each use a wheelchair, and, at 51, Windisch is aware that her mobility capacity could diminish with age. With this in mind, she proactively retrofitted her home to make it handicap accessible.

“When I bought my house about two years ago — it was built in the ‘60s — I knew that one of the things I would have done would be to have everything I need on one floor,” Windisch says.

According to an AARP study, 90 percent of adults over age 65 want to stay in their homes as long as possible. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older falls, and falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries.

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The bathroom is typically the most common room to retrofit because falls often happen there, says Kent McCool, president of Home Safe Homes of Carmel, and a certified aging-in-place specialist. Additionally, he says taking care of hygiene needs offers a sense of independence.

A typical bathroom remodeling project to add handicap accessibility could start around $10,000, experts say, and often includes replacing a tub with a walk-in shower, installing a vanity that provides wheelchair access, grab bars and a comfort-height toilet.

Although it’s an uncomfortable subject for some to broach, Kurt Workman, owner of Workman Services of Greenwood, says it’s one that older adults who want to remodel­ should address.

“I’ll ask how long do you plan on staying here,” Workman says. “I ask for two reasons: If they’re planning on staying there, then I say, ‘do it the way you want and don’t worry about market values.’ The second reason: ‘I say consider accessibility.’”

Windisch’s $50,000 remodel included adding ramps to the garage, patio and deck, and a handicap-accessible bathroom.

“It doesn’t look like the typical sterile, handicap bathroom,” Windisch says. “When walking into the bathroom, you wouldn’t know this is handicap accessible.”

McCool isn’t surprised. He says today’s clients aren’t willing to sacrifice aesthetics for function.

“You don’t have to give up style to have something safe,” McCool says.

Depending on the size of the home and the scope of the work, $50,000 is about the average cost to retrofit an entire home, both experts say. A retrofitted kitchen that replaces standard cabinetry with slide-out shelves and drop-down cabinets also costs about $10,000.

Individual modifications

Retrofitting doesn’t have to include total renovations or full-room remodels. Many homeowners choose individual modifications. A professionally installed grab bar typically costs around $200.

Ramps are another common request, and the cost varies, depending upon the type and height of the ramp. Threshold ramps are less expensive than full ramps, often starting as low as $100. Outdoor ramps ­­­— such as those leading from the street to the front door — start around $500.

Other options

A stair lift: Expect to pay at least $3,000 to install a lift on a straight stairway; a curved stairway could cost $10,000.

An outdoor wheelchair lift: An option when space constraints make ramps impractical. A lift could cost between $6,000 and $10,000.

Low or no cost tips: Remove trip hazards such as loose rugs and cords, and install handrails on all steps or stairways.

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