Wheelchair Accessible Home Modifications
Many of us will experience at least a temporary disability during our lifetime. Accidents do happen and as a homeowner you could find yourself using a wheelchair or walker.
As we age, getting around our home may become more difficult at times. Then we ask ourselves “How can I get up those steps or through that narrow door?” Preparing for this future need comes from far sighted homeowners, builders and remodelers who anticipate limitations and changing needs. As you age, you might consider selling your home to find something that accommodates your changing needs.
Instead of going through the trouble of selling your home and relocating, leaving your friends and community, why not let Safety First Contracting Inc. give you even more reason to stay!
Traditional contractors have never really considered the needs of those who are disabled or elderly, and that can make life really hard to deal with at times. We understand these limitations can be difficult, and we want to help you make your life a little easier and more productive. That’s why we at Safety First Contracting Inc., offer handicap accessible remodeling and accessibility modifications.
We strive to find the solutions to your home accessibility needs and modifications, thereby allowing you to improve the safety and accessibility in your home. Let us help you enjoy your home by accommodating your needs today and in the future.
Move or Improve?
Most of us would choose to live and stay in our own home rather than move to a nursing home or assisted living center. Your home can be remodeled, or modified to accommodate your needs and physical capabilities and conditions. A few minor home modifications can help you with home accessibility.
A Complete Remodel?
Due to unexpected circumstances you may find that your home cannot comfortably accommodate the special needs of a family member due to physical limitations. It may be necessary to provide unique accommodations that would not normally be available elsewhere. Safety First Contracting Inc. is sensitive these needs and will work with you to make your home a comfortable place to live while providing for your unique situation.
The term handicap can be offensive and is not appropriate language when referring to someone with disabilities. We use the term only to reference certain aspects of accessible construction (for the benefit of our uninformed viewers). A person using a wheelchair would be much less “handicapped” in a building and surroundings that is wheelchair accessible, the extent of the handicap to an individual relates directly to accessibility.
Handicap accessible home modifications:
The need for accessible housing will increase in future years as the elderly become a larger share of our population. Independent living and the ability to take care of ourselves allows us to remain active and depend less on others. Making a home accessible with simple home modifications, such as swing away hinges, can improve lifestyle and the ability to stay and live at home.
Bathrooms can be modified or redesigned for walker and wheelchair access. Modifications to bathrooms will help avoid injury and is our most requested service.
Let’s start at the bathroom door. Why do architects design, and builders insist on installing a 24″ door to the bathroom? Wheelchairs require a minimum 32″ door for a “straight in” approach. Doorways that are located in the typical hallway with a requirement to turn a wheelchair will need a 36″ door.
Doors should be widened for wheelchair and walker access. We could remove the existing door, relocate a light switch, widen the framed opening, install a new wider door unit and repair the finished flooring. A swing away door hinge as an option can increase the door width by 2″.
Widening hallways might have to be considered to accommodate a wheelchair or electric mobility scooter. Hallways should be a minimum of 36″ The extra width may make an otherwise difficult or impossible area to navigate into well appreciated smooth sailing.
Toilet seat height varies from one individual to another, usually between 17″ to 19″. Toilets can be replaced with special units or raised seats can be installed. Grab bars can be installed for balance and support and to allow individuals to safely transfer from a wheelchair.
Sinks can be modified to allow wheel chair access. Vanity cabinets can be removed from below the sink. This will expose the plumbing pipes requiring covering with insulation or boxed in to prevent contact with sharp edges and burns by hot water pipes. Pedestal style sinks have a little more room for the person to maneuver, but can be difficult to use from a wheelchair and are usually a couple of inches higher than the standard vanity top. Wall mounted units are another option.
Faucets can be replaced with single lever controls. Anti-scald temperature controls that prevent the water temperature from exceeding an established limit are also a nice addition.
Bathtubs that are standard in homes today can be very hazardous. Transferring from a wheelchair to the tub can be difficult. Bath tubs can also be replaced with showers.
Prefabricated & Molded Shower units
Today, the prefabricated molded acrylic/fiberglass shower units on the market are a great choice if you are looking for an economical and safe option for your shower unit. Some include built in shower seats.
Roll-in showers can be more difficult to install and use. We suggest a shower with a curb but, there’s times when a roll-in shower is your only option. There are problems associated with roll-in showers in a remodeling situation. Most existing bathroom sizes limit the options for a tub to shower conversion. This limits the dimensions of the shower to the same floor area as the tub. A wheelchair will fit into the area but it is tight. The bathroom floor will get wet.
We can custom build ceramic tile roll-in showers using the same basic procedures as used for a shower with a curb, however requires additional work. Tub drains are usually the same elevation as the bathroom floor, requiring jack-hammering and removing existing flooring and some of the concrete. Then center and lower the drain, install a rubber shower pan and the new shower floor flush with the existing bathroom floor.
Prefabricated, fiberglass/acrylic roll-in shower floors can be considered. They can replace and are available in the same size as your standard 5′ tub, and comes with a right or left hand drain. This makes it easier since no jack hammering is required and only minimal drain adjustment is needed. If you have the room, these units are also available in assorted sizes.
Handicap Wheelchair Ramps:
Although there’s times when a wood ramp is the only alternative, we recommend wood composite or concrete. When installed properly they will last many years, requiring no maintenance and are generally finished with a rough texture. There are also aluminum ramps available. Outdoor carpet can be used, but it traps moisture and promotes rot, even when using treated wood.
In order to accommodate a wheelchair, (a standard wheelchair is 24-27″ wide), a doorway should be a minimum of 32″ wide. If the doorway is located in the typical hallway and requires turning a wheelchair, you’ll need a 36″ door. It can be difficult to open a swinging door without a clear floor space (18-24″) on the pull side of the door. An alternative could be the installation of an automatic door opener, but they are quite expensive. We don’t recommend an accordion door because of the space it takes up in the door opening and the difficulty for the person to push open or pull the door closed. Pocket doors can be an option. Look out for plumbing and electrical lines. If there’s utilities located in the wall you can consider double wall installation. Walls in the home can be moved and restructured to make a proper fit.
Swing away offset hinge:
Additional door clearance can be economically obtained by using the swing clear, expandable door, offset door hinges, increasing the width by about 2″, and is often enough to provide the necessary minimum width for a wheelchair or walker to pass through the doorway.
Handicap Grab Bars:
We can install grab bars and safety rails to insure you won’t lose your balance and provide a safe, accessible surrounding. Safety bars provide stability for everyone, including the elderly and those with physical limitations. It’s the most cost effective home modification we can make.
Solid Mount Grab Bars allow the installation of grab bars into existing fiberglass shower and tub walls. The Solid Mount installs through the face of the fiberglass using a patented mounting assembly that attaches to the stud, filling the hollow space, sealing the hole and leaving a mounting surface to which a standard grab bar can be safely attached.
Most walk-in closet doors are only 24″ wide. The door can be widened, shelves and rods lowered or adjustable shelving installed. Usually light switches must be relocated and made accessible to the individual’s requirement, which can be placed on the inside or the outside wall of the closet.
Do you need our help?
Finding a contractor familiar with handicap accessible home construction can be a real challenge for anyone.
Contact Safety Frist Contracting, Inc., at 602-751-1053 to see how our experience in handicap wheelchair accessible home modifications can work for you.
Check out our gallery page and see how we have helped our clients transform their home into something beautiful!!