Getting my house adapted to an appropriate level for me to be able to move in was quite a process. First the renovations had to be approved, then the adaptations done, before I was able to move in.
I know that building and renovating is stressful for everyone, regardless of disability, but there is an extra layer of anxiety when creating the proper access means an environment will be liveable or not.
My house isn’t Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA), but it still needed to be made fully wheelchair accessible and I found being regularly on-site was the only way to ensure that renovations were done exactly according to what would work for me. Things like choosing the right rail to go next to the toilet, choosing the right positioning for the toilet roll holder to enable effective personal care, and regularly trialing things as the renovation progressed, were important to make sure that my home was going to be as accessible to me as possible.
Working with the designer and builder also involved communicating with them when I could see flaws in the work done so that things could be fixed. I tried to take the approach of also pointing out when I was happy with things, so that the building team were more receptive and obliging when I needed things changed.
My top tips for working with a builder and designer are:
Mel has had Cerebral Palsy since birth, but never let that stop her. Mel has worked in various disability roles and has done lots of workshop presenting, mentoring and travelling – both professionally and personally.
Mel has always had significant physical support needs, but credits her parents for helping her believe in herself and never limiting what she expected of herself. Melanie works hard not to let her disability define her.
Mel has worked with the Housing Hub as a Lived Experience Associate since February 2021.
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