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Ataxia UK
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House extension

I live with my wife in an oldish house (circa 1920 build) and neither of us wish to leave it. There are four bedrooms, so there's plenty of room for our grown up children plus their wives etc. I am 73 years of age and was diagnosed with cerebellar ataxia some five years ago. It is now causing me significant mobility and balance problems.

Due to difficulties I experience on the stairs, coupled with a need to house the inevitably imminent wheelchair, we have decided to have our old garage demolished and replaced with a small extension which would house a shower, small utility room and space for mobility aids.

Please, some advice. If anyone has experience of this would that person be kind enough to reply with some advice about what I should include in the extension or what I should avoid. By the way, does this sort of work qualify for a grant of some sort?

All responses rewarded with my genuine gratitude .

6 Replies


I would be the same as you and want to stay in my home. I am by no means a building expert, but have recently had our garage converted into a playroom and our kitchen into a shower and toilet and and a new kitchen added to the back of our home.

This has made such a difference to my daughter, she is only 6 but crawls around it is ideal for our needs right now. I am no longer trying to cook a meal worrying what is happening to her upstairs in her room.

We have a shower with a large screen that is permanently fixed in position, a really large shower head (fixed) and a smaller shower to clean. The width of the shower is large enough to get myself in, a plastic chair and my daughter.

Maybe you could request a tiled seating area to be built in to your shower area so you feel steady and safe. Hand rails would also be helpful as would wider door ways. As we often walk supporting our daughter we have a few doorways with no doors as find that extra width of the door to be a nuisance sometimes.

So far I haven't noticed any problems with heat loss or the area being cold. Maybe with plug sockets ask them to be put at a level perfectly inline with your level when you are in your wheelchair.

There are so many things to think about and as it is your project I recommend sitting and writing the things you struggle with and trying to see if a solution can be built into your design. I will say the process of dealing with the trades is not always easy and very messy but worth it (eventually).

I am not sure about a grant but I imagine with a little bit of research you will find answers. I would also look at some charities that may offer help.

I hope there is a tiny bit of help in this post!

Best wishes.


I am 68 and decided to add a second banister in order to aid myself , and contacted age uk , who were very helpful, they sent a joiner round within days and he advised us that, although he would definitely be able to do it, we should contact the local ( Bradford ) council Adult Services Department, which we did and within a week they had completed the job, completely free of charge, in fact they didn't assess me and didn't ask for any reference from my Doctor, and ,because of my speech difficulty , only corresponded with my wife. Good luck.


Hi. An OT (occupational therapist) should be able to advise 😅


OK slightly different because we knew I had ataxia coming so our house which we built is disabled friendly with good wide doors and no steps to outside. Our stairs have 2 handrails. We have a downstairs shower (do not be tempted by a walk in bath because you need to be in to fill and empty). A walk in disabled wet room is great though. Disabled friendly taps.

Have you considered a fancy mobile home in the garden. (Much cheaper and no VAT). These are great people and are making it accessible for me.My daughter and her soon to be new husband live at home with us and she helps care for me when my husband Ian is away on business. They cannot afford a home round here so we are having a posh mobile home in the garden and they found this firm but there are quite a few different firms out there I think.

I sound like an advert for them but Kate and Sam had a lovely visit there and we had a smashing guy come out to help plan their new home and saw me and my needs and understood

The video is (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_OenFbNjCQ&t=53s) sorry link will not work x

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Hi Piero. You may qualify for a grant. Ask your GP for a Social Worker & OT referral. They have stopped doing any ‘building’ work (cut backs) but can assist you with the installation of a walk in shower with fold down seat, bathroom equipment, grab rails & things like that. They also put in a stair-lift for me. The OT will assist you in thinking ahead but a studio bungalow with attached walk in shower sounds perfect.


Thanks Craig, as soon as plans are firmed up I'll get on to it. By the way, I also live in Cardiff


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