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Thread: Accessible House Ideas - Help, Please!

  1. #1

    Accessible House Ideas - Help, Please!

    Well, we're finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. It looks like we'll be moving into our new home in the next month or so. My husband and I bought a house and have been doing a MAJOR renovation on it. We knocked down the 2 car garage and put in a 3 car garage. We've added a master suite including a nice, big, walk-in closet, gutted the kitchen, moved the laundry room and every surface inside and outside the house is being redone. Everything is being repainted, including the ceilings. The hardwood floors are being refinished. New windows and doors throughout and a new roof was put on.

    Of course the house will be accessible for me (T7-T8 para), but I'm trying to think in a more general sense and make it as accessible as we can for as many people as possible. I'm hoping that people here can help with some of the final details and remind me of anything I'm forgetting.

    The counters in the kitchen are slightly lower than average overall and we put in an adjustable height cooktop. There is a cutout under the sink with doors that fold back, the dishwasher is raised and the oven is lowered. Pantry shelves will pull out as one, tall piece so that someone short (or sitting) can reach everything and a lowered work space is being added as a pull out drawer. Kind of like a big, lowered, cutting board. The switch for the garbage disposal and power outlets are being put on the front of the cabinets and the faucet will have a lever handle that is easy to reach from a wheelchair. We didn't put in adjustable upper shelves, but I think there is plenty of storage space down lower and with glass doors up above, we'll use much of that for display anyway. So am I forgetting anything in the kitchen?

    Throughout the house, we raised the outlets to 18" from the floor. Is there any preference for light switches in terms of design? The controls for the thermostat are at a lowered height and all of the door knobs were changed to lever handles. Hardwood floors and travertine throughout most of house. The only room to have carpet is the master bedroom and that will be a low pile and a colour that won't show dirt too quickly.

    We widened the doorways into both the existing bathrooms so that a chair will fit through and two of the three bathrooms in the finished house will be accessible overall. Pedestal sink in the front bathroom, but it's big, with lots of room under it to get close in a chair. Lever handles like these are best for the faucets, right? Would these be a bad idea for those without full use of their hands?

    One thing that I know some people would suggest is a roll in shower. I decided against that because I really like having a tub, but the layout of the master bathroom would allow someone in the future to just remove the tub and slide in a shower unit. The area under the sink and counter is totally exposed and there are lots of cabinets down below, including storage space within reach of the toilet to store supplies out of sight. The new toilets will be on the tall side, but not too tall. Very uncomfortable when your feet don't touch the floor. Grab bars will be ADA spec in the two bathrooms by the toilets and in the showers. Adjustable, handheld showerheads with push buttons for on/off and there will be a power outlet on the front edge of the counter, too.

    The garage and back patio are on the same level as the house so there is a no-step entry where I will be coming and going most of the time. I still thought the front of the house should be accessible in case of fire and just because... well, because. So we're putting in a ramp that will access the front porch (three steps). Technically, it falls a foot or so short of being ADA compliant, but I still think it's managable for anyone who can push their own manual chair around. There will be a handrail for those who are unstable on their feet as well.

    Some miscellaneous stuff:

    The ceiling fan and at least one light will be on a remote control in the master bedroom

    The driveway approach is being lowered so that sports cars don't bottom out and it's easier for someone who uses a wheelchair to come and go.

    The mailbox will be at a height on the front porch that someone sitting can reach into it.

    The door leading in from the garage will be self-closing and will have a kick plate on the bottom so that someone using a wheelchair can shove it open using their footrest.

    OK, I realize that is a lengthy post, but I'm still sure I've forgotten something. Anything we can do to make the house more navigable for the blind? Have I forgotten anything that would make things easier for those who don't have full use of their hands? I would really appreciate any input. I'll post pictures to illustrate some of this, as well.

    C.
    Last edited by Tiger Racing; 04-11-2007 at 01:33 AM. Reason: Add pics

  2. #2
    Senior Member justadildo's Avatar
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    no round door knobs, all L handle.....

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by justadildo
    no round door knobs, all L handle.....
    Yup, got that. Thanx!

    C.

  4. #4
    Senior Member justadildo's Avatar
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    EXACTLY......what about long rods on your vert and horz blinds??...and chain extensions on ceiling fans?

  5. #5
    we just put those type of faucets you questioned in our shower and I love them. My hands are 50% functional. Everything else sounds great.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Broknwing's Avatar
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    You've put a lot of time & planning into this...sounds like it'll be great once it's done...I recommend a Dishwasher Drawer and This French-Door Fridge w/bottom Freezer...Specifically THAT fridge b/c the door on the freezer tilts open & it makes access into the freezer a lot easier for everybody(not to mention more energy efficient)...

    The lever style handles would address your concerns better. I know that my dad who's got two fingers amputated and muscle damage in his left hand would have difficulty w/the old fashioned "star" style handle even though it's really pretty.

    As far as light switches, rockers/paddles are easiest, IMHO, b/c you can hit them w/anything to turn on/off...From my days of working w/their professional/theatre products, I'm a huge fan of Lutron. They have switches that will meet your remote control desires to.

    Regarding toilets, I'm actually one for lowered height toilets(mine is lower than standard), you may want to consider this for one of the bathrooms, makes it TONS easier for us short people...Also, if in any of your bathrooms space is a concern, you can put in a corner toilet made by Eljer to help aleviate that. I got mine special order from Expo Center. I can't find a direct link for the toilet on the eljer site right now though.

    As you can tell, I've done a bit of investigation myself for my house...

    ETA:Check out www.Outwater.com they have a little of everything imaginable...I'll probably be gettiing cabinet hardware from them...just recently found 'em
    Last edited by Broknwing; 04-11-2007 at 02:59 AM.
    'Chelle
    L-1 inc 11/24/03

    "My Give-a-Damn's Busted"......

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by justadildo
    what about long rods on your vert and horz blinds??
    Hadn't thought of that. Thanx.

    ...and chain extensions on ceiling fans?
    I thought remote controls would be better than pull chains. Am I wrong about that? I thought that a pull chain that was long enough to be reachable by a child, little person or someone sitting in a chair would actually be in the way of people walking through the room.

    Quote Originally Posted by Broknwng
    I recommend a Dishwasher Drawer
    We thought about that, but thought that since they cost as much as a regular size dishwasher, we should go with a regular size, but install it higher than normal. I really like those drawer one's though...

    The lever style handles would address your concerns better. I know that my dad who's got two fingers amputated and muscle damage in his left hand would have difficulty w/the old fashioned "star" style handle even though it's really pretty
    Yeah, I was afraid of that. OK, I'll stick with the lever style handles on the faucets.

    As far as light switches, rockers/paddles are easiest
    I kind of thought so.

    Regarding toilets, I'm actually one for lowered height toilets(mine is lower than standard), you may want to consider this for one of the bathrooms, makes it TONS easier for us short people.
    OK. We can do that in at least one of the bathrooms.

    Thanx for the replies, everyone! I'll take all the advice I can get.

    C.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Broknwing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by justadildo
    what about long rods on your vert and horz blinds??
    Quote Originally Posted by Tiger Racing
    Hadn't thought of that. Thanx.
    They also make aftermarket add on remotes for these...don't have a link handy, will look tomorrow...thinking of getting them for my blinds...

    I thought remote controls would be better than pull chains. Am I wrong about that? I thought that a pull chain that was long enough to be reachable by a child, little person or someone sitting in a chair would actually be in the way of people walking through the room.
    Agree 1000% on fan chains, we're in the process of retrofitting all our fans to remote. They only cost about $30-$35 each for the retrofit remotes.


    We thought about that, but thought that since they cost as much as a regular size dishwasher, we should go with a regular size, but install it higher than normal. I really like those drawer one's though...


    Thanx for the replies, everyone! I'll take all the advice I can get.

    C.
    Understand about the dish drawer cost, did you see they have a double? independant controls, so you can run a small load if you want/need...I know, it's quite costly though...I got a single...not yet installed...kitchen is next major project...LOL

    Glad I can share my vast remodeing shopping finds w/someone...
    'Chelle
    L-1 inc 11/24/03

    "My Give-a-Damn's Busted"......

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Tiger Racing
    Anything we can do to make the house more navigable for the blind?
    Braille wallpaper.
    Have I forgotten anything that would make things easier for those who don't have full use of their hands?
    A service dog on the premises that also acts as a security system.

    Seriously though it sounds as though you put a lot of thought into it. In 2005 I had built and it was a pretty nerve-racking process. One of the things I wish I would have done differently was make a larger master bathroom and closet for all my medical supply crap.
    How about an intercom system at the front door?

  10. #10
    Sounds like you've done a pretty good job. I also had a house built and I really wish that I had used casement windows in my house instead of regular, double hung windows because casement windows have a lever crank on them to open and close the window. The windows I have now are very drafty and difficult to open, some of them I cannot open by myself which is a huge bummer since I like having my windows open on nice days. Also, If you live in a windy place like I do, the windows are more energy efficient since the wind will blow the window toward the house and create a tighter seal. (gotta love the windy texas panhandle )

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