Whether you are looking to buy a fully accessible home or are building/customizing your own, there are many details to consider. One of the most important things you can do is understand your own personal needs and know what to look for…
Here are a few aspects to consider when looking for or planning a fully accessible property:
Entryways – One of the most important things to look out for are entryways into the home. These need to be level with the ground or have a ramp with a comfortable incline. There should be seamless access from the front door of the home to the driveway and then to the street/sidewalk.
Flooring – tile, laminate, and vinyl flooring work well and are great for kitchens, bathrooms, and entry ways. Wood laminate flooring is durable and attractive and requires little maintenance. Creating a seamless transition between flooring is important to avoid bumps between each room. If falls are a big concern, consider installing carpet. Make sure to do your research on carpets as some may feel as though you are moving through sand. Take care in getting the right information on the type of carpet AND the type of installation needed for longevity with prolonged wheelchair use.
Space – hallways and doorways need to be wide enough to turn a wheelchair around comfortably. Sometimes this means that an open-concept floor plan may be easier to work with.
Elevator – If the home has more than one storey, and access is required to the upper floors, an elevator will most likely be necessary. Many designers have incorporated elevators into the floor plan of homes in such a way that they blend in well with the décor.
Washrooms – at least one washroom in the house needs to be spacious enough to turn around in comfortably, with lower counters and an easily accessible tub. If you require a roll-in shower, the whole washroom floor would need to be tiled and sloped toward floor drains. Other aspects to consider: grab bars, a wall-mounted shower bench and accessible sink (with easy to reach levers and drain positioning to accommodate wheelchair user’s knees).
Changes Do Not Have to be Glaringly Obvious – there are ways to renovate and customize your home so that accessibility restructuring blends in harmoniously. With subtle changes and design in mind, you can have a fully accessible home that looks very similar to your neighbour’s. Some of the smallest changes can have the most profound effects on usability. Things like positioning light switches a little lower (and electrical outlets a little higher) can make a world of difference.
Whether you are looking to purchase an already customized home or you want to design or update one yourself – one of the most important things you can do is get the right help. Hiring the right professionals for each job is the best way to ensure you will have a home that suits your needs.
Remember, it is up to you to know what those needs are – do your research and be an expert in the home features you desire. If you are looking for an accessible home, or looking for a property to customize, do not hesitate to call me at 416-921-1112 – I would be happy to help.