The next time you think of home accessibility, go beyond grab bars and rails placed in strategic corners of your home. This recommendation especially holds if you have someone recovering from an accident or surgery or living with a chronic illness, a limitation, a physical, cognitive or sensory disability, or even someone dealing with the inevitable process of aging. By making your home more accessible, you can have a warm, inviting space that allows for increased independence for those who need it, better safety, and preservation of dignity.
Building or Renovating a Home to Make It Accessible
Start with making a checklist of all the modifications your home needs, keeping in mind your exact requirements. The extent of changes needed is critical here. For instance, are you looking at changing only certain areas of your home or redoing the entire interior and exterior? Once these details are in place, you can bring in the right contractor and get professional help to accommodate your unique requirements, budget, area rules and regulations, and potential timeline. Some of the overall modifications you might need could include the following points.
Accessible entrances are crucial in creating a home that welcomes all. Widening your doorways to allow for wheelchair access is a good start. Wide doorways are essential for bathrooms, hallways, and the front door. Install a proper safe ramp with a well-protected drop-off point, especially while entering decks and patios. Changing the entrance landing to keep it at the right height is useful. Also, a bi-fold doorway can help the door not come in the way of the person opening it. Alternatively, if space is still an issue, swinging or folding doors are another option. Hand cranks can take care of windows that are difficult to open physically.
Add extra light in all places necessary to make the home comfortable and brighter for someone with visual impairment. An easy-to-see lighted doorbell is an example of one practical option. Rocker-style switches can also be a good idea to add. Additionally, you can put in an intercom system with a video display. You might need to change the circulation route of your home to fit in with your unique needs. You can also position your light switches at the right height from the ground.
You could look at lowering your counters, sinks, faucets, and shelves for your kitchen or making them adjustable for convenience. Replacing sinks with shallow basins can make it easier for those who are shorter or in a wheelchair to access. Cooktop models with staggered burners make it easier to cook without reaching across a burner to use the others. A refrigerator with ice dispensers can help those who lack the dexterity to use ice trays. If you’re replacing shelves, ensure that there are no more than 48 inches off the ground to increase accessibility. Cabinets with pull-down shelves are also helpful in this regard. Keep your countertop not more than 32 inches off the floor. Alternatively, install adjustable countertops. In addition, installing contrasting edges on these countertops while keeping the rest of them monochromatic can be helpful for those with visual impairments to adjust and navigate better.
You can add handheld, flexible shower fixtures and railings all around your bathrooms. Sturdy railings can be added wherever needed, especially outside the home or near the stairs. Lowering towel bars and hooks helps people with limited reach. Make all surfaces slip-resistant. One often overlooked issue is the toilet and the fact that sitting down and getting up can be difficult for those with mobility or age constraints. Apart from grab bars, you can also install a new toilet while keeping enough space from the sidewalls to enable the addition of grab bars easily later. Use single-lever-type faucets or asymmetrical handles that do not require a firm grip to use comfortably. If these have a high-temperature stop, they can prevent accidents or prevent someone from getting burned. If you have a bathtub, it should be a model with a built-in removable seat, and you can add a folding ‘L-shaped’ seat to your shower area. Finally, a shower curtain allows for more flexibility than a door.
Bedrooms need to have closets with low-hanging or adjustable rods and shelves, ample lighting, especially in dark closets, and bi-fold doors that do not come in the user’s way. Living rooms should have dense and tightly woven carpets so as to not impede the movement of wheelchairs, along with anti-skid flooring.
Finally, make your parking area accessible with access aisles, curb ramps, level surface slopes, and repaired cracked flooring and concrete.
Contact Us Today
Making your home accessible requires both expertise and heart. You need professionals with the right know-how but who are also concerned about making your space perfectly comfortable and suitable for your particular needs. This is where we come in at Owings Brothers. From addressing your interior and exterior spaces to planning in detail all the elements needed, we go that extra mile to ensure that everyone who lives in or enters your home and needs these design elements feels empowered and protected. Contact us to get started today.