Your Ultimate Guide To A Handicap Accessible House

handicap accessible house

Currently, less than 1% of US housing is accessible for people in wheelchairs. Yet, there are over 11.6 million people who rely on a wheelchair, crutches, walkers or canes to get around.

If you have a loved one that has limited mobility, you understand how big a struggle mobility can be.

Read on to learn how to make a handicap accessible house. This way, everyone can enjoy spending time living and loving each other, without barriers.

Add Ramps to Entryways

One of the first things you need to do to make a house handicap accessible is to build a ramp for all entrances.

A ramp is necessary for a person in a wheelchair to enter and exit the home with dignity and safety.

Carrying a person up a few stairs and into a waiting wheelchair is dangerous, especially in rain or snowy conditions. It also takes away a person’s independence.

A ramp is handy for people in wheelchairs as well as those who have mobility issues such as the elderly or young children. Carrying groceries into the house is easier with a ramp even for people who are able-bodied.

Make sure you contact your municipality to get a permit before you start installing a ramp. Also, ensure that your ramp meets the local building code.

There are various types of ramps you could choose from. Learn more about exterior ramps in a variety of materials and styles.

Modify the Inside Stairways

Inside stairs can be a nightmare for a person who uses a wheelchair. Just like the exterior ones.

There are 2 options that you can look into in order to make a handicap accessible stairway.

Stairway Lift

The first option is a stairway lift. This is a mechanical device that is installed on the wall or banister of your existing stairway. A disabled person sits on the chair or platform and is lifted up or down the stairs along a rail.

The rails are measured to the exact height of a home’s stairway. The track can run straight or follow a curved stairwell if needed.

At the top, the chair swivels to allow the user to get out of the lift into a waiting wheelchair.

One important consideration for stair lifts is back up power. In the event of a power outage, there needs to be a backup source of power so that the lift continues to operate.

Vertical Platform Lift

A vertical platform lift is another option. These lifts transport a person together with his or her wheelchair up and down the stairs. They are heavy duty pieces of machinery that are often custom-built.

The platform is large enough to fit a wheelchair and its user. Many have edge flaps that drop down into ramps to allow the user to get on and off a wide variety of floors — even if there is trim or a small step.

This option is usually more expensive than a stairway lift, but it depends on the configuration of your stairs and home.

It’s not easy caring for a loved one who is differently abled. Caregiver burnout is real and can happen to anyone. Read more about how to lift yourself up when you’re going through hard times.

Modify Doorways

Another way to make your home handicap accessible is to modify the doorways. Doorways should be wide enough to allow a person in a wheelchair to pass through without difficulty.

Double doors are an excellent solution if you are doing a major renovation.

You can remove the door frame, take doors off completely or even reverse how a door opens to make more entry space for a wheelchair.

Another option is to buy offset hinges that swing the door clear. This will give your doorway a few more inches of space.

You should also lower every doorknob so that a person in a wheelchair can reach the knob easily.

Make the Bathroom Handicap Accessible

Another important consideration is the bathroom. You can help maintain a person’s dignity and independence by making bathroom visits accessible.

Bathrooms are usually the smallest room in the house. This makes it difficult for someone in a wheelchair to move around.

Install grab bars around the toilet and shower for stability. This will help prevent falls as a person uses the facilities.

A toilet riser is a simple addition that will make using the toilet easier for a person in a wheelchair. They have built-in handles to help a person lower themselves onto the toilet. The higher seat also means that a person doesn’t have to squat as low.

Next, consider the tub or shower. Walk-in showers or a walk-in tub are a must-have for handicap homes. By removing any steps or the side of a tub, a person with limited mobility is able to enter and exit the bathing area with ease.

Make Flooring Changes

handicap accessible homes need to have open floor space. Rugs and thick carpets are difficult to navigate in a wheelchair.

Hardwood, ceramic, vinyl or low-pile carpet throughout the home is the best choice for smooth wheelchair mobility.

If your home has thresholds from one room to the next, consider adding short rubber ramps over those thresholds.

Extension cords are hazards that should be removed. Tuck your extension cords behind furniture to make the pathways open for wheelchairs.

Consider Furniture Placement

A handicap accessible home needs to make moving around easy. Besides making sure the floor is conducive to wheelchairs, you also need to think about how your furniture is placed.

A wheelchair needs a path that is 32 inches wide to get around. Consider moving your furniture around to allow your loved one to have an easier time moving around.

You can also raise your couches with blocks or furniture coasters to make moving from a wheelchair to a couch simpler. Higher furniture may be more comfortable for people who use a wheelchair.

You Need a Handicap Accessible House

You can ease the discomfort and reduce the danger to your loved one by making your home a handicap accessible house.

Accessible homes are suitable for the elderly as well as those with different abilities. An accessible home provides barrier-free living for everyone.

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