Adapting your property to improve accessibility – or is moving a better option?

Would you like to continue living independently in your own house or apartment as you get older? Then the issue of age-friendly housing is something you will have to give consideration to. We explain when it’s worth investing money and effort in adaptations to make your home more accessible – and when a move might just be a better alternative.

Many people know the problem or have already had initial experience of age-related challenges: your eyesight is not what it used to be, illness has made walking increasingly difficult or even impossible without a mobility aid. In light of such restrictions as we get older, the question of whether our individual housing circumstances are still suitable becomes more acute. Homeowners often think about adapting their own property to improve accessibility, thus allowing them to remain in their familiar and cherished home environment despite the infirmities of older age.

The cost of home adaptations

We highly recommend consulting an expert for the purpose of planning an accessibility-friendly conversion that accommodates your requirements. They will also be able to tell you the likely costs involved in such an undertaking – as you can imagine, these will vary depending on the property in question. In some cases, even relatively minor adjustments can make life much easier for you. However, you might also conclude that home adaptations will end up costing you more than buying a (perhaps somewhat smaller) retirement property which already boasts an age-friendly design. If you decide to go ahead with home adaptations, you will need to bear in mind that you may only be able to cover the costs by taking out a large loan.

Find out all you need to know about home adaptations – and then decide

First, determine how extensive the modifications to your property will need to be and whether it will ultimately be worth your while. The best thing to do is to seek advice from an estate agent. As property experts, they have the necessary experience and know-how to help you decide in favour of or against home adaptations – or they can connect you with suitable experts when it comes to specific construction details. Of course, much depends on the quality and condition of your property and the extent of the required modifications. Are there lots of staircases and steps; are the rooms too small; will load-bearing walls be affected; how many hallways will need to be widened? If it turns out that it would be easier and more cost-effective to sell the property and move into an age-friendly apartment, your estate agent will help you with both the sale and the search for a new home, where you can enjoy as much comfort as possible, even in older age.

Accessible property requirements

It is important to bear in mind that age-friendly property adaptations must adhere to legal regulations. These regulations are specified in the DIN 18040-2 standard for the construction of accessible buildings, which sets out in minute detail the rules that must be followed – from manoeuvring space in rooms and circulation areas to the required minimum depth of facilities and minimum width of doorways and hallways. Important measures also include the installation of accessible fixtures in kitchens and bathrooms, so that wheelchair users also have easy access to the sink or kitchen countertop. As you can see, age-friendly or home accessibility adaptations are not exactly straightforward.

Do you have questions about making accessibility adaptations to your property? Get in touch with us! We are happy to advise you.


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Legal note: This article does not constitute tax or legal advice in individual cases. Please have the facts of your specific individual case clarified by a lawyer and/or tax advisor.