Make Your House Handicap Accessible: Five Tips
Making your home handicap accessible means making it possible for anyone to visit and enter. There are several modifications you can make to accommodate those confined to wheelchairs or otherwise limited in mobility.
Tip 1 - First Things First
At least one main entrance to the house will need to be handicap accessible, which means no steps. A concrete, wooden or aluminium wheelchair ramp allows easy access. If you decide to build a wooden ramp, apply grit strips or coat it with sand paint to make the surface resistant to slipping.
There are a variety of shapes of wheelchair ramps, including straight lines, ramps that wrap around the house and ramps with landings between two sections. There are also portable ramps that can be unfolded or stored according to need. Your ramp should be constructed or placed in a place that will provide convenient access to interior rooms.
Tip 2 - Doorways
To accommodate a wheelchair, a doorframe needs to be at least 32 inches wide. Usually, there is enough room to widen both the main entry and interior doors. If things are tight, install swing-away door hinges to add an extra couple of inches. They are easy to find and relatively inexpensive.
For people with wheelchairs to be able to enter a small-sized bathroom and easily close the door, install the door to swing outwards, not inwards.
Tip 3 - Switches
If the light switches or thermostats are too high, consider installing or replacing existing fittings with remote control units. If possible, you can also lower them or have additional switches installed at a more accessible height.
Tip 4 - Bathrooms
There must be at least one full bathroom on the main access floor. Fit it with a specifically-designed bathtub and shower, including a transfer seat, which makse it easier to move from the chair to the bathtub. Install handrails or grab bars for stability and safety.
Replace a low-level toilet with a specially-designed model. Alternatively, clamp a raised seat to the existing seat for an inexpensive and easy solution. A wall-mounted or pedestal sink, without cabinets, gives space underneath for people using wheelchairs.
Tip 5 - Taps and Door Handles
Knob handles can be difficult for people with disabilities and the elderly. Replacing them with pull handles is easy, quick and inexpensive. There are many styles available for doors and bathroom and kitchen cabinets.
Single-lever taps do not have washers, so they require little maintenance. Just one lever controls the flow and the temperature, which can make life much easier for people with disabilities. They are also very good when your hands are very dirty, because you can flip them on with your elbow!
If a family member is aging, or has recently become disabled through illness or accident, making adjustments means you can remain in your current home. Making your house handicap accessible means investing time and money, but the benefits can be priceless.