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A New Plan A

July 27, 2011

My husband and I spent the afternoon consulting with Accessibility Design of Minneapolis. The decision at hand, we thought, was whether to build a house accessible to Joy as a wheelchair user, or to buy and renovate an existing home. We came out of the consultation with a surprise Plan A: to stay here and renovate to accommodate an elevator.

Our house is a four-level split and would require two elevators to make it 100% accessible. But if we accept a non-accessible basement (currently: laundry, storage, an office), we could incorporate a single 3-stop elevator in a new addition to the back of our house, making all three every-day living levels wheelchair accessible.

It would require some significant re-arranging of space on two floors, including turning our entry area into interior space. But it may be less expensive than buying and renovating a house (Plan B), and is definitely less than building from scratch (Plan C).

I do not look forward to renovating a house we’re living in; our lower-level finish project two years ago is too fresh. But, compared to getting this house in selling shape, showing it, selling it, moving (and somewhere along the way buying and renovating another house), staying here would be less stress.

I can also wrap my mind around the idea of renovating this house because we’ve lived here for 17 years. I know the house’s eccentricities and how we use the space. I would be renovating any other house with imagination and faith. This is also a “not too big house,”  the right-size for us long-term.

We also came away from today’s meeting with ballpark figures for renovating an existing house. So I think the next step is our local MLS site to see if we could possibly buy+renovate for less than staying here.

If you have any insights from your experience buying or building or remodelling, please chip in!


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