Remodeling for Accessibility

Whether a member of your household has become disabled, you’re planning to invite an aging loved one to live with you, or you’re simply planning ahead for the rigors of aging, your home will probably need some modifications in order to provide as much freedom as possible.

Trends in Accessibility

Of course, one option for someone with disabilities or mobility difficulties due to aging is to move into an assisted living facility or nursing home. Not only is that option unsavory to many, but it’s also quite expensive and unnecessary, thanks to the potential made by accessibility remodeling. The good news is that the graying of our nation is prompting competition among accessibility dealers, and as they vie for your business, lower prices result. Along with lower prices, you can expect to find pieces meant to blend with your décor far better than the accessibility designs available to past generations.

Bathroom Details

Even if all members of your household are ambulatory, an accessible bathroom is key to making your home welcoming to all potential guests as well as planning ahead for the post-retirement years. The following elements are important if you desire to make your bathroom fully accessible to people with disabilities or mobility concerns:

• First floor location
• Grab bars for bathtubs, showers, and toilets
• Walk-in showers with seats
• Toilets with raised seats
• Wall-mounted lavatories at a height accessible to those in wheelchairs
• Faucets with single-lever controls
• Anti-scald controls on hot water tank

House-wide Elements

Of course, getting into the house to begin with can be an issue. Altering at least one entrance in order to allow for no-step entry will be a great start. Wheelchair-friendly flooring and trip-resistant seams should be considered, as well. In addition to eliminating tripping hazards such as household clutter and throw rugs, we recommend implementing the following design elements:

• Slip-resistant, low-maintenance wheelchair ramps made of aluminum or concrete
• 32” to 36” doorway (36” is needed if a turn is required, as off a hallway)
• Sturdy hallway handrails
• Pocket doors or doors with swing-away hinges
• Levered door handles for exterior and interior doors

Kitchen Ingredients

Of course, this might not be necessary if the people with disabilities aren’t living at your home; however, if you’re remodeling to prepare for the future, some aspects of kitchen design need to be considered.

• Floor space clearance of at least 5 feet in diameter
• 30” counter tops for those in wheelchairs with knee clearance 27” from the floor
• A sink area and another work area without under-counter cabinets
• Pull-out or drop-leaf shelving for additional work spaces
• Shallow sink area with a single-lever faucet
• Pantry equipped with pull-out shelves and/or Lazy Susan turntables
• Switches and electrical outlets located at the fronts of the counters

In addition to providing for your family’s needs, your accessible remodel is sure to make your house more salable for buyers, later on.

Photo credits: Top © Christian Nitz / Fotolia. Second © Larry Malvin / Fotolia. Third © Iriana Shiyan / Fotolia. Bottom © lunamarina / Fotolia.

D.R. Hartman Construction Inc

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