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Wheelchair Accessible Home Modifications

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By on Nov 17, 2016
Wheelchair Accessible Home Modifications

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The home should be a place for everyone to enjoy. If you or someone in your family requires special accommodations for a wheelchair, this can make living in a traditional home difficult on all. However, you can certainly update your home to accomodate and still maintain the decorative elements you love.

While this may seem like an overwhelming idea, creating an accessible home is key for making all feel welcomed and safe. The ADA does not enforce codes for residential homes, but does provide suggested standards to make the home easily accessible for all. Here’s a few ways you can create a barrier-free home.

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Accessible Home

Costs To Remodel

Depending on your needs, remodeling for accessibility can be very high. The average cost to remodel for disability accommodation is $6,572. Of course, this depends on the type of remodeling you will be doing. There are a few projects you can DIY, like grab bar installation, but it’s best to contact a pro to ensure the accommodations are safely done.

Wheelchair Ramp


For someone in a wheelchair, simply entering a home can be a challenge if it does not meet the needs. You may not notice the small step up to your front door, but that is the first barrier for anyone in a wheelchair. The most common way to remodel for accessibility for an entryway is to install a wheelchair ramp. This is one project you’ll want to have installed by a pro for everyone’s safety. Discuss plans and ensure the ramp, which can come in a variety of materials, can meet the needs of the users. The average cost to install a wheelchair ramp is $1,528, depending on the size of the ramp.


You may not consider it, but doorways can pose another barrier to moving about the house easily. All doorways should be wide enough for the wheelchair to fit through. ADA standards suggest 32” to 48” for residential homes as well as enough space for those in a wheelchair to reach and open the door.

Consider the door hardware you are using as well. Levers, as opposed to knobs, allow for the user to easily open the door. If you’re able, installing pocket doors is a great solution to make doorways more accessible as they keep the area clear of any barriers whatsoever.

Accessible Bathroom


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Bathrooms are often the first area of the home that needs remodeling when it comes to accessibility. To start, ADA standard is to have a 5’ turning radius for wheelchairs. Bathtubs should be replaced with a roll-in, flat bottom shower. Options are available for those who worry about water getting all over the bathroom floor, but utilizing a rubber curb. This is based on comfortability of the person who will be using it. It’s a smart idea to install shower grab bars as well. As we’ve mentioned before, shower grab bars are essential for bathroom safety. If you’re worried about style, don’t fear, new styles of grab bars can meet any style you have for your bathroom. Be sure to install these grab bars at a lower height for better accessibility. Also, include non-slip surface materials whenever possible.

You should also consider your sink and toilet as well. If possible, keep the sink open. If you have a cabinet vanity, this can be easy to remove and open up your space. You’ll also want to choose the right toilet for your bathroom. To meet ADA standards, a toilet bowl must be 17” to 19” tall.

Accessible Kitchen


One of the biggest challenges in kitchens is not having utilities that are accessible. With a 5’ turning radius, a U-shaped kitchen works best to accommodate wheelchair needs and stay consistent with the kitchen work triangle. Countertops and appliances need to be placed lower to create this barrier-free kitchen design. Allow plenty of knee and toe clearance under the countertops and under the sink.

Some of the small details can make the biggest difference. When it comes to kitchen cabinet hardware, choose pulls instead of knob and slow close drawers. Be sure that items used frequently are able to be safely reached.

Other Areas

Though we’ve covered the major areas of the home that typically need accessibility accommodation, don’t forget about these areas:

  • The closet may need an adjustment. Place rods at a lower height and include pocket doors when possible.
  • Clear any large furniture that may block access or turning radius within a hallways or the room.
  • Install smooth and durable flooring options like vinyl or laminate.
  • Make sure all pathways to the entryway are smooth and repair any cracks in the paving.
  • Ensure all light switches, outlets and thermostat controls can be accessed.


Creating a barrier free home is an investment, but it’s one that has high payoff in the comfortability of you’re and your family. A few simple changes can create a welcoming environment for everyone.

Are you planning a wheelchair ramp for your home? Read How To Build A Wheelchair Ramp for more instructions on building. 

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