What Makes a Home Wheelchair Accessible?
LifeStage Home Designs | March 5, 2019
If you are beginning to think about your forever home, a house where you can age in place, then one of the first things to consider is how to design a truly wheelchair-accessible home. Even if mobility isn't a concern now, it's important to make plans now in case you or a loved one ever needs to use a wheelchair at home, as renovations can be costly and difficult. In building (or renovating) a home for wheelchairs, there are many factors to consider besides just the width of doorways.
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LifeStage Home Designs are made so you can avoid future renovations. Choosing to build a forever home that is wheelchair accessible is the smart move. It will ensure a higher quality of life and is also the sensible financial decision because building an accessible home now is much cheaper than going back and renovating it later.
So what are the different elements of a proper wheelchair accessible home? Whether you are building a new home or having to renovate one, here are some areas to focus on:
- Make your entrances and doorways wheelchair accessible. This goes beyond ensuring the proper width of all doorways. Many homes are designed with steps at entrances. The best solution is to site your home on a lot where steps are not needed, but if they are, install a permanent ramp instead of, or in addition to, steps. Temporary or folding ramps are also options, but keep in mind a caregiver will need to be able to lay down the ramp when it is needed. All LifeStage home plans are designed with stepless entry, which means no wheelchair ramps will be needed for anyone to live in or visit your home.
- Put the main bedroom and other essential living areas on the ground floor. We are going to trumpet this feature of forever homes over and over. To meet the standard of wheelchair accessibility, it’s not enough to just have the bedroom on the ground floor. It is also essential to make sure that activities like eating, bathing and living areas are on the same floor so that family members who use a wheelchair can function as independently as possible. All LifeStage Home Plans have bottom-floor master suites as well as kitchens, bathrooms and open-concept living areas.
- Make sure the bathrooms are wheelchair accessible. This will require shower units that are flush with the floor (known as curbless showers), rather than tubs or shower units with a step or ledge. Make sure you choose sinks that do not include drawers or doors below so that a person in a wheelchair will be able to get close enough to use it. Sinks should also be installed at lower height. Include grab-bars throughout the bathroom to aid with getting into the shower and onto the toilet. For smaller half baths or powder rooms, install the door so that it swings outward instead of inward. All LifeStage home plans are designed with zero-entry showers, accessible sinks and tastefully placed grab bars, which means access will be safer and easier for everyone in the family - while remaining stylish and comfortable.
There are several important design elements you should include to create a home that is completely wheelchair accessible. If you have questions, contact us and we would be happy to answer them.