For too long, home design and remodeling have focused on standardized solutions that work for the majority of people without attention to individual needs. Everyone has different preferences, concerns, and practical requirements. Our homes should reflect those differences.
Fortunately, remodeling for handicap accessibility has finally begun to receive the attention it deserves in the design/build world.
At L. Evans Design Group in Portland, we transform standard houses into functional, beautiful homes with innovative design solutions. From aging-in-place home modifications to wheelchair accessible homes that include features like ramps and roll-in showers and tubs, we’re here to make sure your home works for you – and not the other way around.
Why Accessibility Matters in Home Remodeling
The need for handicap accessible homes is far more important than many realize. Nearly 56 million Americans are 65 or older, representing an increased need for aging-in-place modifications.
The necessity of handicap accessible homes is also a serious issue. According to the CDC, one in four American adults have a disability that impacts the way they interact with their environment. Despite the significant need and growing awareness of accessibility needs, home modifications are rare. In fact, less than 5% of homes have accessible features.
Key Considerations for Accessible Home Remodels
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to designing handicap accessible homes. In fact, when it comes to accessibility, home modifications should be specifically tailored to your family’s unique needs and preferences.
Here are a few key accessibility factors to keep in mind as you plan your remodeling project:
- Mobility: Features like stair lifts, ramps, lower countertops and door handles, and wide doorways and hallways can significantly improve your ability to get around in your home.
- Safety: Depending on your needs, incorporating design elements like abundant lighting, no-step entryways, hardwood floors (with no rugs) and grab bars can help ensure you’re safe and minimize the risk of falls and accidents.
- Comfort: If you deal with chronic pain or have difficulty kneeling, crouching, or standing for long periods, you might consider including features like pull-out cabinets, custom seating, and smart features that allow you to adjust the lighting and temperature in your home using a remote control.
Types of Accessible Home Modifications
Each individual will have their own needs and preferences when it comes to home modifications for disabilities. It’s a good idea to assess each room in your house to determine the areas that present problems for you and are in need of improvement.
The bathroom can be one of the most dangerous places in the home for people with mobility-related disabilities. Fortunately, strategic bathroom remodeling for handicap accessibility can make daily life easier.
Here are some accessible features to make the bathroom safer and more convenient:
- Grab bars
- Walk-in showers/tubs
- Shower chairs
- Wheelchair accessible sinks and vanities
- Non-slip floors
- Raised toilet seats
- Optimized lighting
- Removable shower heads
The kitchen is often called the heart of the home, and it’s easy to see why. Our kitchens are where we gather with friends and family and make long-lasting memories. So making sure your kitchen works for you is essential in a handicapped accessible home remodel.
Here are a few accessibility features to consider adding to your kitchen:
- Wheelchair accessible sinks and counters
- Pull-out pantries
- Movable shelving
- Round-edge countertops
- Below-counter microwaves
- Adequate open space to maneuver
- Electric stove tops
- Staggered stove burners
The home is supposed to be a place of relaxation and safety. No one should have to face obstacles when they come home after a long day. Getting through the front door should be easy and convenient.
Here are some accessible features to make your entryway more convenient:
- Wide doorways
- Low or no thresholds
- Wheelchair ramps
- Lever-style door handles
- Electronic door locks
Accessibility features shouldn’t be relegated to individual rooms. Moving through your entire home should be easy, convenient, and safe.
Here are some whole-home accessibility features:
- Wide hallways and doors
- Smart lighting
- Electric window controls
- Easy-open interior doors
- Non-slip flooring
- Non-carpeted flooring
DIY vs. Professional Accessibility Remodeling
Some smaller-scale accessability home modifications may be easy enough to handle yourself, depending on your skills and abilities. But unless you have experience designing and building accessible homes, larger projects usually require the help of professionals.
That’s because you want to ensure your remodel adheres to safety and accessibility standards. The goal is to make your home more safe, convenient, and comfortable. Choosing a professional home remodeling designer and contractor that has experience with accessibility and/or aging-in-place remodeling is essential.
In many cases, you may also be able to sell your home for more if it meets specific accessibility requirements!
Budgeting for Accessible Home Modifications
You don’t need an unlimited budget in order to modify your home to meet your accessibility needs and suit your personal style. Any good home designer will consider your budget and scheduling requirements when proposing solutions and designs.
Even smaller modifications such as rearranging furniture, removing rugs, installing grab bars, and changing out door knobs can make your daily life much easier.
Local remodeling organizations are a valuable resource for information on assistance programs. Contact them or seek advice from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) to learn about grants and subsidies that can help manage the costs of your home modifications.
Our Approach to Accessible Home Modifications
Your home should accommodate your needs, make your life easier, and act as an oasis of comfort for you and your loved ones. It should also suit your personal style and design preferences.
L Evans Design Group is a design/build company in Portland, Oregon with a passion for projects that involve aging-in-place and accessibility home modifications. Don’t hesitate to contact us to tell us about your needs and ideas and take the first step toward a more functional and accessible home!