Wednesday, 25 April 2018
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This Old House - Do-it-Yourself

How to Make a Home Handicap Accessible

Written by Posted On Monday, 16 April 2018 17:51

Having a handicap accessible home means that anyone can visit and stay in your home. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were nearly 50 million people in the United States with some type of disability in 2000. Among these individuals, 6.8 million have a condition that makes it difficult to dress, bathe and get around the home independently.

Simple and smart renovations can make your home more accessible to loved ones, friends and family members.

Install a Ramp

Before working on the interior of the home, it's important to make the entry to the home more accessible. Removing stairs and installing a ramp will make it easier for wheelchairs to enter the home. Those using mobility aids, such as canes and walkers, will also find it easier to enter the home using a ramp.

There are a variety of material options available, including:

  • Aluminum

  • Concrete

  • Wooden

While cost effective, wooden ramps can get slippery. It's important to install grit strips or coat the wood with sand paint to prevent slipping.

Along with the ramp's material, you'll also need to consider what type of ramp you want.

  • Straight line

  • Wrap-around

  • Landings between two sections

  • Portable

Ideally, the ramp should be placed at an entryway that allows for easy access to interior rooms.

Widen Doorways

Depending on the layout of the home, doorways may need to be widened. If you live in an older home, you will likely need to widen the doorways.

For a wheelchair to fit through a door, the opening must be at least 32" wide.

Swing-away door hinges can add an additional few inches. For smaller rooms and bathrooms, install the door to swing outwards instead of inwards.

Make Bathrooms Safer

Make sure that there is at least one bathroom on the first floor of the home. If you only have a small bathroom on the ground floor, consider doing renovations to make the room larger and better accommodate a wheelchair.

Specialty showers and tubs should also be installed as well as transfer benches to make it easier for wheelchair users to get in and out of the tub.

"For the injured or the elderly, climbing in and out of the tub can be a difficult and even dangerous activity," says AvaCare, a medical supplies company that offers bathroom safety equipment. "Transfer benches ease the transfer, as well as reduce the risk of falling. Instead of stepping over the wall of the tub, the user enters the shower by sliding across a transfer bench."

Move Switches and Replace Door Handles

Switches should be easily accessible, and door handles should be easy to use. According to The Glimpse, "If thermostats or light switches are too high, lower or install remote control units."

Traditional knob handles can be difficult for people with disabilities to use. Consider replacing door knobs with pull handles for easy use.

Also, consider installing single-lever taps on sinks to make it easy to control the temperature and flow of the water. Those with limited mobility in their hands may find it difficult to use traditional turn-knob fixtures.

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James Stevenson

Hi, My name is James and I've been involved in the property and real estate industry for 10 years now. I hope people will like to read about my thoughts and experiences in the industry and please contact me if you want to discuss my articles further!

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