Renovations for accessibility are not luxuries; they are necessities for people who face barriers and challenges when maneuvering around their homes. Whether the need for modifications arises from a temporary complication or a lifelong condition, handicap home renovations must be done to create a safe, usable living space for residents.
Home Accessibility Improvements
Retrofitting homes to provide interactive accessibility takes more than just removing barriers. Every person has unique situations and specialized needs that must be the main focus of any accessibility renovation project.
Although ADA compliance does not cover strictly residential private homes, the specifications for alterationsset forth by the American Disabilities Association can be used as an excellent starting point for accessibility renovations ideas for a living space.
Principals Of Universal Design
Universal design is a term that emphasizes “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design,” as is described by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. These principles include:
- Flexibility of use
- Equitable use
- Simple and intuitive use
- Perceptible information
- Tolerance for error
- Low physical effort
- Size and space for approach and use
Some of the most commonly renovated areas for disability access include the exterior entryway of a home, the bathroom, and the kitchen.
Bathroom Design For Accessibility
Although bathrooms are typically the smallest rooms in a home, they often present the biggest challenge for that very reason.
The small amount of space lacks room for maneuverability. When possible, a common solution is to expand the bathroom into a room adjacent to it. Sometimes, a new bath can be created from a spare room, too.
Installing grab bars is another common bathroom solution, and contractors can rework the bathtub or shower itself. Installing a “curbless” or barrier-free shower or bathtub allows a wheelchair to roll right in or a person to walk in easily without having to step up at all. Existing floor joists can be notched to slope a shower floor, too.
Exterior Entryway Accessibility
Many people choose not to renovate the front entrance of their homes, instead opting to put ramps in the garage or at a back or side door. The required slope ratio can mean that ramps up to code can take up a huge amount of space. Landscaping can help exterior renovations blend in and be less noticeable.
For those who don’t have a lot of space, a lift may be a good alternative. A lift only needs about five feet of room for the platform. However, if ramps are required, L-shaped ramps can compress the necessary space.
Maintaining An Aesthetically Pleasing Look
Overall, one of the biggest challenges for professional interior remodelers is altering the home to be functional and comfortable while making every room look aesthetically pleasing.
The idea is that if they were to sell their home in the future, a person could sell it not as having a handicapped bathroom but as having a large high-end bathroom.
If aesthetics are a concern and the budget allows, half walls can be installed instead of handrails. In addition, thin but sturdy rails that resemble towel racks could be used in the bathroom and kitchen. For curbless showers, shower bases can be installed using cultured marble or ceramic to not look like a barrier-free shower.
Making A More Usable Kitchen
Even though kitchens tend to be larger rooms in houses, that isn’t always the case. Regardless of the size of the kitchen floor plan, removing cabinets at floor level around sinks and then re-installing pipes to sit tight against the back wall can create room for wheelchair users to get close enough to the sink to use it.
Frequently, sinks and counters are too high for those in wheelchairs to comfortably reach. Therefore, lowering them to a height of 30 inches or so instead of the standard 36 inches can aid people in the kitchen who are disabled. Lowering wall cabinets is another common alteration, as well.