Creating Handicap Accessible Homes Creating Handicap Accessible Homes

Streets, buildings and public places have become more handicap accessible over time. Public places (as long as they are not preexisting or undergoing renovations) must adhere to ADA (American with Disabilities Act) rules and regulations. A person who is confined to a wheelchair or a person who lacks mobility needs certain modifications to move freely from one place to another. Creating a handicap accessible home is not difficult to accomplish. Below are some of the most common things that must be done to create a handicap accessible home.

Step 1 – Hire the Right Contractor

Make sure you find the right contractor. Make sure the contractor has successfully completed handicap home remodels or has a track record for creating handicap accessible features in a home. Make sure the contractor understands ADA requirements.

Step 2- Create a Handicap Accessible Entryway

Start with the walkway. Create a ramp that leads from your driveway all the way to the door of your house. The ramp should be at least 40 inches in width to easily accommodate the width of most standard wheelchairs. Create your ramp either using poured concrete or wood. On either side of the ramp, use a railing to prevent a wheelchair from rolling off accidentally. If a railing is not desired, create landscaped gardens or raise the height of your lawn to the edge of the ramp.

Step 3 – Create Proper Doorways

To create handicap accessible doorways should be at least 36 inches in diameter, 40 inches is preferred. All doorways should operate with lever-style handles.  Lever-style handles are easier to use and operate than standard knobs.

Step 4 – Modify the Bathroom

Design and construct a roll-in shower. A roll-in shower is a shower that is level with the bathroom floor. The shower floor pitches slightly to the middle, towards the drain for proper drainage. The shower should be at least as long and as wide as a standard wheelchair. If room permits, create a shower that is at least 4 feet wide and 6 feet long. Use a shower curtain or top-mount sliding glass doors. The shower head should be hand-held. Make sure there is a temperature gauge on the shower hardware to prevent over heating the water. All cabinet drawers should be removed so a wheelchair can slide underneath the countertops. A pedestal sink also will do. 

Step 5 – Create Handicap Accessible Kitchens

Lower countertops sufficiently. Install an electric stove rather than a gas stove. Handicap accessible kitchens need to have enough turn-around space for a wheelchair. If an island exists, do not place the island any more than 40 inches away from the back countertops.  Knock out some of the shelving and bottom cupboard space to allow for a wheelchair to fit under the counter. Invest in hinges that will allow a door to open 180 degrees. This gives a maximum opening for a wheelchair to slide under. Invest in pulls for the exterior of the cabinet doors rather than knobs. 

Many of these handicap accessible changes and modifications can both be functionally correct and designed nicely to appeal to any homeowner.

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