Moving house is said to be one of the most stressful and daunting tasks you will do in your life. Imagine dealing with it as a paraplegic. PBF’s Business Development Manager, Tony South, has recently downsized his family home to a more manageable dwelling. PBF asked Tony to share with you some of the challenges he encountered along the way.
How hard is it to find an accessible house?
When one is confined to a wheelchair the spontaneity in decision-making and facilitating the move, as stressful as it may be for the physically unimpaired person, is enormously complex and challenging for the wheelchair user. This is particularly so when one has to sell an existing house to finance a new house within tight time frames. Suitable interim rental accommodation is almost impossible to find. By purchasing the new house first there was the extra downward pressure on pricing, as we were conscious that we needed to sell quickly. An additional complication, and significant stress point, is that unless the new house is purpose built suitable for a wheelchair, it requires considerable structure modifications to make it wheelchair friendly, which also takes time and is very expensive.
What changes needed to be made to your new house?
Numerous changes needed to be made to my new home with not much change from $50,000. These included:-
- Two ramps to gain easy access and escape (in the case of a fire), even though the house is single level built on a slab.
- The bathroom had to be gutted and made suitable for a wheelchair and access to a shower recess utilising a mobile shower chair.
- Two bedrooms had to be converted into one to provide sufficient room for freedom of mobility without destroying the furniture or the walls.
- Carpets are not suitable for wheelchair moveability so had to be removed and replaced by timber panelling.
Tony, did you need other people to help you pack and unpack?
From a wheelchair it is almost impossible to pack and unpack a house full of “stuff” that we accumulate over life, so unless one has a very helpful partner like mine, hired help to pack and unpack is essential. Friends and family members today are generally too busy to help out.
In the end how many people did you have to organise to help you with the move?
We were very independent and planned our move meticulously with the fine details. Donations to the tip and the Salvation Army commenced 3 months before we had located and signed off on our new home.
The key to moving house successfully is preparation – it makes the entire process so much easier for everyone. People face the same issues with moving regardless of whether they are in or out of a chair. However, when taking into consideration accessibility and the support required for wheelies it can be an extremely stressful experience.