Home Modification Guidelines

Content by: United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Indiana

Some homes are better candidates for modification than others. A home is considered to be adaptable if it has all or most of the following key structural features to allow reasonable entry and circulation without extensive modification:

  • Entrance is on a flat or level site with paved walkways from parking and sidewalk
  • Alternatively the entry could be on ground-level entrance with a one or two step entrance, clear of any major obstructions (trees, corners, etc.), that would accept a ramp with a slope no greater than 1 inch height per 12 foot length.
  • No steps or abrupt level changes on the main floor.
  • Doorways that are at least 36 inches wide.
  • Hallways at least 42 inches wide.
  • At least one bathroom on the main level with a 36 inch wide door and clear 5 foot by 5 foot floor space.
  • A kitchen that is U shaped or L shaped with room for a wheelchair to maneuver.

Individual access needs vary widely, but some additional items to consider when building new or buying a house that needs to be accessible include:

  • Low pile carpeting or hard floors
  • Chair height doorbell/mailbox (48-54 inches)
  • Chair height electrical controls/outlet/phone jacks (48-54 inches)
  • Accessible, easily operated window controls (slide open with one hand with less than 8 pounds of pressure (24-28 inches from floor)
  • Direct outside emergency exit from bedroom of person with cerebral palsy
  • Chair height controls in kitchen and bathroom
  • Reinforced wall for grab bars
  • Lever handle door handles inside and out
  • Appropriate bathroom fixtures for persons need (roll in shower or tub with built in seat or lift)
  • Reinforced ceiling if need a lift
  • Roll under sink in kitchen and bath
  • Automatic door opener

Some modifications that could me made in the home include:

Accessible Entrance/Exit – includes adding ramps, widening doorways, making entrance locks and door handles accessible and providing an emergency exit

Accessible Interior – includes widening hallways or interior doors, moving electrical switches and outlets related to door widening

Accessible Bedroom – including widening doorways, making the closet accessible (lowered shelves and hanging rods), relocating electrical switches and outlets

Accessible Bathroom – includes modifying design of commode, sink and cabinets, tub or shower, widening entrance, moving switches and outlets, faucet hardware

Accessible Kitchen – including cabinets, counters and appliances for disabled adults to prepare their own or their family’s meals

Find Support

Do you have questions about making modifications to your home or vehicle?

Visit the My Child Without Limits support community and talk to parents, caregivers, and professionals about their experiences with changing homes and cars to better suit disabled children.


Looking for more information on Assistive Technology and Individualized Service Plans?

Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA)
(877) 687-2842 (877) 687-2842

Alliance for Technology Access
(707) 778-3011 (707) 778-3011

National Assistive Technology Technical Assistance Partnership (NATTAP)
(703) 524-6686 (703) 524-6686

DisabilityInfo.gov (AT resources)

National Council on Independent Living 
(202) 207-0334 (202) 207-0334 

Independent Living USA