Universal Design Home Remodeling Details to Remember
September is national preparedness month. It is always wise to incorporate universal design home remodeling details, to be prepared for physical changes that may occur as we get older, called aging in place. They may not be needed for you, but for one’s parents so they can easily come visit, or even stay with you if need be. When it is time to sell your home, it will make your home appeal to more buyers.
There are many standard recommendations to making a home universally accessible, such as a no threshold entry into the home, 36” wide doors, lever handles, an accessible bathroom on the ground floor, elevated appliances (oven, dishwasher, clothes washer & dryer), higher toe kicks (10” high by 6” deep) on the base cabinets to provide more room for turning in a wheelchair, lower light switches (42-48” off floor) and higher outlets (18” off floor) to name a few. However when there has been a sudden loss of physical abilities and when one is going through the grief and rehabilitation, it can be difficult to think of the details that are important to facilitate easier living. The medical team of specialists can help make home modification recommendations to suit an individual’s needs, as can a trained remodeling specialist. Here is a list of considerations that may be overlooked.
- Gradual slope to entry, with an entry threshold of ¼” or less
- Covered front door entry for weather protection
- 5’ by 5’ level entry on both sides of the door for ability to turn
- Smart key less lock entry with camera that will show who is at the door unlock the door via a smartphone from anywhere
- Mail slot for indoor delivery. A letter from your physician saying you are unable to walk to your mailbox taken to your U.S. Postal Office will qualify you for at the door delivery, even if you have a community mailbox center.
- Glass doors on upper cabinets to see contents
- Walk in pantry and/or pull out vertical pantry cabinets for spices, canned and packaged goods. There are pull down upper cabinet shelving systems and dish drawers as well. Have lower cabinet storage be roll out drawers.
- Have waste and recycling containers in pull out cabinet to maximize clear floor space
- Use half moon drawer pulls for handles
- Planned nearby landing space near for taking things in and out of refrigerator, or oven
- Have an accessible pot filler at an induction cook top
- Planned varied height counter tops for food preparation
- The garbage disposal will need to be mounted to the back of the accessible sink
- It is advantageous to have two dishwashers, one for everyday clean dish storage, and the other for the dirty dishes to be washed. It is a great way to store and access glasses and cups.
- Pocket Door to save space
- Comfort height toilet 17-18” off the floor
- Reinforced walls with wood blocking where grab bars are installed around toilet, in curbless walk-in shower, and around tub
- Tub deck extending 15” for easier entry, without interference of faucet placement
- Channel drain at end of shower
- Wall mounted shower seat and bench, with water controls and hand held shower on a vertical bar, and soap niche within easy reach
- Anti-scald fittings on tub and shower
- In floor heating, Tornado Body Dryer in Shower, towel warming drawer
- Moderate light level option for nocturnal visits
- Ideal location of the front loading washer and dryer would be within a large walk in closet to increase efficiency, alternative could be master bathroom
- Planned station to fold clothes, iron, pack luggage
- Accessible utility sink
- Sturdy night stand next to bed that has a charging station for phone, for overnight storage of car keys (can activate car alarm in an emergency), lamp, storage of tissue, medications, and the like
- Clear space of 36” around the bed
- Illuminated rocker light switches
- If there is sound sensitivity, choose a sound dampening drywall to screen out noise from outside
- Casement windows with locks that are reachable from a seated position
- Planned fire escape of landing out of window, like a raised flower bed
The flooring throughout the home should be wheelchair friendly. Rugs placed where guests would sit for conversation, full length curtains on windows, upholstered furniture will help dampen sound that bounces off hard surfaces.
Happy Universal Design Home Remodeling Mesa!
Photo is the kitchen from the Universal Design Living Laboratory home.