There are not enough handicap accessible homes anywhere. I’ve been doing research on this, talking to people and preparing final touches to my parents’ home for special needs. This includes apartments as well. We have elderly people, special needs folks, and those coming home from war all needing them. Yes, places can be changed to accommodate these needs. And remember, some needs will be different than others.
My point in this article is to think about adding some features to your homes if you are building. You just never know when you might need them or, if you sell your home, how valuable these needs can become.
I was talking to a friend yesterday and she too talked about trying to find a handicap accessible condo with her friend for their grown child who wanted to be on their own. When looking, they could not find anything and had to buy something and adjust it to fit their needs. She pointed out some things I did not consider. If you don’t have small kids, think about stoves/ranges with knobs on the front end versus the top back. Folks in a wheelchair cannot reach those on the top back. Maybe with a long gripper they can adjust. Sinks all have cabinets underneath and handles at the back. Cabinets can be removed so a wheel chair can get up closer. But the knobs will still be a problem. And the shower you think they can roll into could have a tall lip going in. This can be a big problem. It will have to be adjusted. And most of the time a ramp will be needed. Make sure you don’t make the incline too steep, as that would be dangerous.
We were lucky in my parents’ home. When we built it, we did take a lot of things into account. A simple task would be to sit in a wheelchair and ride it thorough the home. We were lucky to only have to move furniture. Wooden floors made the wheelchair slide easily. The large tiled shower allowed us to take the walker and wheelchair in for transfer to a shower chair. Lower light switches allowed us to manipulate the lights. Adding a ramp with a slight incline and a pad of pavers allowed easy access from the van to house. We did take a couple interior doors off only for easy access. All door frames were built at 36" to accommodate a wheelchair.
So in conclusion, when you are building you might want to consider a couple things just in case. Slightly lower light switches, large walk-in showers with handheld devices, minimum carpet, 36" door ways, stoves or ovens with front switches, sink areas that can easily be converted if necessary, and an area for access into the home that a ramp can be added to. You will have to add grab bars as needed. If you put these in initially, they can or can’t accommodate the handicapped individual based on their needs.
If you need to start your plans or adjust your current home, call a builder with experience – it does make a huge difference in having the knowledge versus just going by the standards. It opened our eyes to adjust a home to one’s needs in many aspects. You can build a home with basics, but there are many things to add that can be tailored to the individual(s).
For all your real estate and building needs or questions, call Debbie at 830-833-4249 or 713-818-6658, or send an email to debbie@vallone realestate.net.