Scooter photo taken several years ago at a local food festival
Fortunately thanks to the wonder that is Twitter a builder is due imminently to give me a quote for building a ramp and installing a storage shed of some description. The builder hunt has not gone too well up to this point. My neighbour had to turn down the job because they are fully booked up for the next few months and it's too big a job to get done in a few hours as a foreigner as they were hoping. The other builder I spoke to and arranged a time to come round for an estimate simply never turned up. I don't care how good a builder he might be, if he can't turn up or make a phone call to explain why not I don't want him working for me.
In anticipation of at least one estimate I phoned my landlords to check they are happy for me to install a ramp. Private landlords frequently receive a bad press as there are still far too many Rachman's about. My landlords couldn't be more different, they rent properties for fair market values and crucially keep their properties well maintained. They are such good landlords that my upstairs neighbour moved from 3 houses down the road where her previous landlord had been quite happy to leave holes in the roof for years.
There tends to be much fuss in the press about the overall cost of Housing Benefit, and concept of 'free' local authority housing. What isn't usually mentioned in the press is that most people are forced to rent in the private sector because of the lack of local authority properties, and that renting in the private sector means paying commercial rents. It is an even worse situation for disabled people as there are very few adapted local authority properties and of those there are, most are restricted to people over 65.
I was incredibly lucky to find an affordable ground floor property and even more lucky with my landlords. When I spoke to them to ask permission for the ramp they immediately said yes, and wanted to know who would be footing the bill. They expected the work to be funded and carried out by Social Services so that it wouldn't cost me. I could apply to Social Services for the work to be done but waiting times are exceptionally long for such adaptations and I want to be able to use the scooter this year not wait until next. Some local authorities have waiting times of up to 8 years for adaptations such as ramps.
I've also had previous experience of Social Services idea of adaptations which has been overwhelmingly negative. Workmen, when they eventually turn up tend to scratch their heads and refuse to do work because it's 'too complicated'. The work that they do do is often of a dangerously low standard; many years ago Social Services fitted an extra banister rail to help me go up and down the stairs. It looked nice...until it completely pulled out of the wall after a few weeks of use. I only weigh about 7 stone so that was impressively poor workmanship!
Once my landlords heard it would be me footing the bill they told me to get a couple of quotes and that they are sure they'll be able to do the work for a lower cost themselves. They even offered to store my scooter in their garage until the work is done. Let's hear it for lovely landlords!