When I learned a small bungalow was for sale around the corner from our home I immediately assumed it wouldn’t work for my son’s wheelchair. Most homes don’t unless they’ve been custom built. But, given the home’s location, it seemed appropriate to at least give it a look-see. So imagine my surprise when I walked through the front door to find an open concept home that was, with some tweaking, amenable to wheelchair users.
At first, the plan was that we would do only basic renovations to the home and use it primarily as a weekend respite facility for our boys. Our thinking was that this would allow “trial period” to decide whether managing a community based home for our son and a friend was something we could sustain for the long haul. If it didn’t work the home could easily be re-sold.
The past month has been a blur, but once we started spending some time in the home with a team of architects it became fairly clear that a whole home renovation made more sense. So we’ve decided to take a deep breath and renovate the entire home. For better or worse we’re jumping in with both feet. We’ll be widening doorways throughout, installing an elevator, and finishing the basement. In the basement we will have a suite for the house assistant, a sensory room for the boys, and a huge wheelchair accessible bathroom with a wheel-in shower. I’ll share pictures when it’s all done. While I am more than a little freaked out, I believe with every fibre of my being that creating this home is the best thing for my boy.
For logistical reasons the renovations won’t begin until early 2020. So for the short-term we have made arrangements for some Grebelites (those who live near me will understand what that means) to live in the home. For insurance purposes we need to have the home occupied, and having some students occupy the home for the fall term dealt with that concern. Instead of rent, the boys will be providing occupancy as well as basic home maintenance. And as part of their “rent” we have asked the boys to join us for weekly dinners to get to know Matthew and Buddy. Because community is important for all!!!