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While our homes are beautiful, they are also a place where a family must function harmoniously. If you have a family member that requires special accommodations, I’m sure you want to do everything you can to make sure they are comfortable.
While remodeling for accessibility is important, there are smaller things you should be doing around your house to make movement and functionality less challenging. They may seem like details, but they can make a huge difference in home accessibility. See a few ways you can improve your home for universal design and function.
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Install An Elevator Or Chairlift
If you live in a two-story home, simply removing stairs is not an option to help those with mobility issues travel up and down. A chairlift or an elevator can be helpful to all. While the costs are significant, adding a chairlift or elevator can increase your home’s value. The average cost to install an elevator or chairlift is $16,397, with most homeowners spending between $3,004 and $5,849.
Build A Wheelchair Ramp
For those coming in from outside, a wheelchair ramp can improve overall accessibility to your home. Even if you have one or two steps to your entryway, this can pose a problem for those with mobility issues. By building a ramp, you can easily solve this issue and increase the value of your home. The average cost to build a ramp is $1,585, but can greatly vary based on the size of the ramp.
If you’re looking to save money on this project, it’s possible to DIY. However, there are many considerations before taking on this project, such as weight and use of the ramp. To learn more about this DIY project, read How To Build A Wheelchair Ramp.
Replace Your Handles
You may not notice it, but the type of door handles you have play a big role in the universal design of your home. Knobs can be difficult for those with accessibility issues to turn and fully open. This is especially true if a family member has mobility issues. A simple way you can make this easier is by changing your circular knobs with levers. These are easier to open and close.
The same is true for cabinet drawer pulls. The ADA recommends drawer pulls that can be easily utilized with one hand. U-shaped kitchen cabinet hardware is usually the best choice for accessibility.
Lower Light Switches & Controls
If a family member needs wheelchair accommodations, the obvious modifications like door width and ramps may come to mind. But a little detail that is often overlooked is where light switches, thermostat and other home controls are placed in a room. Often, they are high off the ground, while the ADA recommends light switches be 48” off the ground, so they are easy to turn on from a sitting position.
However, moving a light switch is not easy work. This is best left to the pros who can properly relocate your switch.
Install Grab Bars
The bathroom is always a concern when it comes to accessibility. Typically, it’s a smaller room than most and can contain many falling hazards. Bathroom safety grab bars can make all the difference when it comes to bathroom accessibility. The good news is that bathroom grab bars come in many different styles that can be integrated into bathroom design. For example, grab bars near the toilet are now purposed to also be sleep toilet paper holders. Grab bars are easy to install and can be crucial to someone who needs accessibility features in the bathroom.
Non-Slip Bathroom Updates
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While we’re thinking about bathroom safety, let’s consider the flooring used in the room. Often, it can be slippery when wet and pose a falling hazard. There are two ways you can make your bathroom safer for all. A permanent solution is replacing your current bathroom flooring with non-slip bathroom tiles. This can be costlier, but it provides non-slip benefits throughout the entire bathroom.
An easy update for accessibility is utilizing non-slip mats around areas where water may accumulate, such as the shower or toilet. Non-slip mats can be an easy, safe solution without having to replace your floor.
While you may not think much of small elevations between doorways, this can be a barrier to anyone with mobility issues. Wheelchairs and walkers can’t overcome these small parts of the home. If there is a small trim or step in through the front door, entry to the home may not be possible.
The good news is that this does not call for a complete doorway remodel. There are many threshold ramps available in various sizes to help accommodate all. You’ll need to pay attention to the weight it can accommodate and the exact size you’ll need to fit the doorway. Often, homeowners are able to place these in their doorway on their own quickly and easily.
Accommodating your home for accessibility is making it safer for all. By incorporating universal design concepts, you can improve the quality of life in your house. However, don’t forget these little details when you’re remodeling for accessibility, as they make a big difference.