8 Tips To Build An Accessible Home

8 Tips To Build An Accessible Home 

Ian Mutuli
Updated on

A home is supposed to be a place where everyone feels comfortable and safe. However, if a member of your household uses a wheelchair, you’ll need to provide a home that’s accessible. 

If you aren’t sure of how to begin, you can read helpful articles online by experts or contractors like Boutique Home Plans. Here are some tips you can follow to build an accessible home:  

1. Create Wider Doorways 

One of the first things that you should do when designing an accessible home is to have a doorway that’s wide enough to accommodate the standard size of a wheelchair. A 32-inch-wide doorway will be ideal since it’s suitable for most wheelchairs.  

Widening the doorway doesn’t just apply to the entrance. You should do the same in every space, such as the backyard, bedrooms, bathrooms, and home office or study area. Go for sliding doors as well, which are more convenient than swing doors that make it harder for someone on a wheelchair to pass. 

Aside from making the doorways bigger and changing the doors, you need to make the entrance wheelchair-friendly. The entrance should lack steps and feature a low-step threshold that measures less than half an inch. 

  1. Add Enough Knee Space 

As you renovate your home, ensure that there’s enough legroom in the kitchen. With enough space, a family member on a wheelchair will be able to reach for stuff easily. You can consider giving them their own kitchen counter where they can move around freely and access their utensils and ingredients. Or you can add knee space under the sink or countertop.

Aside from the kitchen, provide knee space in the laundry area, home office, and bathrooms, so your family member will be able to wheel themselves around comfortably. 

Another change you can include in the kitchen is a side-by-side refrigerator and freezer. With this kind of appliance, you’ll be able to reach for anything smoothly. Replace faucet handles with lever handles too. 

  1. Build Low Storage Spaces 

Along with adding knee space under the countertop, build low storage spaces, including cabinets and drawers, so storage will be more accessible. For instance, you can install lower drawers and shelves in the bedroom, so your family member can easily get their everyday items, like shirts and pants. Items that are used occasionally, such as winter coats and formal attire, should be kept in top drawers or shelves. 

In addition to installing lower drawers and shelves, add a mechanism that allows you to pull down a rack from the cabinet, so you can get a lot of things without pulling your body to see what’s available. Moreover, you can lower closet rods to a height of about two feet from the floor, so clothes will be easier to reach. 

  1. Include A Shower Chair 

Bath time can be daunting for people using a wheelchair. To help them stay comfortable in the shower, install a shower chair where they can sit while washing up. You can build a bigger shower area to accommodate not only the shower chair but also someone who can assist your family member in showering. 

Pick a foldable shower chair that can be mounted to the wall, so other family members won’t have to squeeze themselves in to take a shower. 

  1. Switch To A Curbless Shower With A Channel Drain

Your shower area can be one of the most dangerous and challenging spaces for people using the wheelchair, as it tends to get slippery. It can also be difficult to step in because of a barrier that separates the shower floor from the bathroom floor. 

Hence, you should switch to a curbless shower with a channel drain. Remove the barrier, so your family member can wheel themselves in to their necessary position and prepare for a transfer. Besides a curbless shower, add a channel drain, which drains water quickly and prevents accidents. 

  1. Provide Safety Grab Bars 

Your family member will need to lift themselves up from their wheelchair to their bed or the toilet, so you’ll need to install safety grab bars. Safety grab bars will promote independence and offer support. 

Make sure that the safety grab bars are placed at the proper height and secured with wall studs to make them sturdy enough for the user’s weight. 

  1. Use Tiled Or Hardwood Flooring 

While going for a carpeted floor might sound like a comfortable choice, it might not be a convenient one for people using a wheelchair. Because of the cushion, moving the wheelchair will be more difficult. 

Instead of a carpeted floor, opt for tiled or hardwood flooring. A tiled or hardwood flooring features a smooth surface, making it easy for people to wheel themselves with ease. Plus, it enhances your home’s interiors.

  1. Adjust Furniture Placement

To help people using wheelchairs move from one place to another quickly, you should adjust your furniture placement. Create a path of at least 32 inches between furniture pieces or increase the height of the furniture to make it easier for someone on a wheelchair to sit. 

Takeaway 

Building a wheelchair-friendly home requires careful planning. As long as you plan well and take these tips into consideration, you’ll be able to create a home that’s accessible for everyone. 

Image source: forbes.com

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.