- Making your home more accessible is essential for creating an environment everyone can enjoy, regardless of physical ability.
- Accessibility for the home can range from simple changes to major renovations, such as installing ramps or widening doorways.
- Even minor modifications like adding grab bars and non-slip rugs can help make daily activities easier and safer for those with mobility issues.
- Some planning and effort can help you to create a comfortable and safe living space for yourself and your loved ones.
Making sure that your home is accessible and comfortable should be a priority for everyone – but especially for those who live with individuals who have limited mobility due to disabilities or age-related conditions.
Making modifications for an accessible home ensures that it’s safe for everyone. But making a home accessible doesn’t have to break the bank, although some complex changes may still be expensive. Whether you require short or long-term accommodations, Let’s discuss some ideal ways to increase the accessibility in your home and make your home safer.
What Makes an Accessible Home?
A home that is accessible is either built or altered to allow people to live independently. Your residence does not have to follow all the guidelines for accessibility listed in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, you can receive assistance from your city or county’s division if needed. You may also find ADA’s Guide to Disability Rights Laws helpful in making your requests.
Let’s look at improvements that can help you make an accessible home.
1. Ramp Installation
One quick and easy way to make your home more accessible is by a ramp installation at your doorway. Instead of opting for a costly custom-built or permanent ramp requiring permits, portable ramps are a more affordable and accessible alternative.
You have the option to either purchase or construct a variety of accessibility ramps.
- Threshold: This is an excellent solution for dealing with uneven flooring between the outside and inside of a building. It is a small tool that can bridge differences in elevation up to 6 inches.
- Portable/Folding: This temporary solution offers the convenience of a ramp without needing installation. You can choose either a bi-fold or a tri-fold option.
- Suitcase: Another portable ramp can be folded like a suitcase. It is also lightweight and easy to travel with.
- Permanent: The most commonly used ramp that can be installed is usually made of either metal or wood. In most situations, a permit and professional installation are required. The ramp is designed to be customizable to a user’s long-term needs and is permanent.
- Modular: These products are designed to fit into atypical or distinct areas and are available in several customizable components. Additionally, they typically do not require professional installation.
Ramp installation at a home can range from $1,100 to $3,500, with an average price of $2,000. Even though Medicare may not cover these expenses, programs are available that can provide information on obtaining funding for accommodations.
2. Handrails & Grab Bars
Installing handlebars and grab bars can improve safety and ease of movement in bedrooms and bathrooms. They are affordable and easy to install. Deciding where to install them is essential based on areas requiring movement or activity – such as the kitchen, bed, or living room.
The requirements and permits for building may differ depending on the location. Therefore, before beginning the project, it is recommended that you gather information from government or local resources and also refer to the IRC (International Residential Code) guidelines for stairwell railings.
The height of grab bars should be based on the users’ needs. Still, generally, they should be installed 33 to 36 inches above the ground, including in bathrooms and showers, as per ADA recommendations.
3. Replacing Doorknobs with Lever Handles
One simple way to make an accessible home is to replace doorknobs with lever handles. This is especially useful for those who struggle to grip and turn doorknobs. Lever or French door handles can simplify entering and leaving rooms. Replacing all doorknobs in your home, particularly those on entryway and bathroom doors, is advisable.
Replacing a door handle with a door lever by hiring a locksmith costs approximately $160 per visit, excluding the price of the new lever handle. This cost is comparable to replacing it with another standard handle.
4. Removing Mobility Barriers in The Bathroom
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 235,000 people who are 15 years or older visit the emergency room every year due to bathroom injuries, and 14% of them have to be admitted.
Be careful around shower floors and tubs to avoid slipping and falling in the bathroom. Ensure you know all the different surfaces you need to step on. Also, ensure enough room to move around safely in your bathroom. To adhere to ADA guidelines, the minimum size for a bathroom should be 60 inches wide by 56 inches deep, with enough space for fixtures.
To make your bathroom accessible, ensure it meets the minimum standards specified by the ADA. The entry door should be at least 42 inches wide to accommodate a wheelchair. Likewise, there should be a minimum of 60 inches of space around the toilet, and it should be positioned 16 to 18 inches away from each side wall.
Place safety bars, a bench, and position poles in the bathroom to enhance safety and comfort. Also, consider replacing bathroom tiles with non-slip materials such as ceramic, porcelain, or cement.
Additional Ways to Make an Accessible Home
Removing Liners and Rugs
Flooring should be smooth and safe for everyone. Avoid using rugs or liners that may create problems for wheelchairs or walkers. If you prefer having rugs or carpets, consider using a low-pile rug and firmly attach it to the subflooring using rug tape that won’t interfere with wheelchairs.
Another option is to contact a nearby expert in flooring installation and request them to design a personalized solution that permits a rug to be attached to the flooring. Also, consider installing low-slip flooring options, such as vinyl or laminate, in your home.
Having enough open space is crucial for individuals who use mobility aids like wheelchairs and walkers. If you want to make your home easier to navigate quickly, consider rearranging your furniture. It is recommended to have a 5-foot turning radius to ensure that people using mobility aids can move around freely without any obstructions.
Creating a pathway between furniture pieces at least two feet wide is recommended, as this is the standard measurement. Additionally, the ADA can provide guidance and compliance information for spaces with fixed furniture.
All in all, there are various ways you can make an accessible home. Such a space benefits those with disabilities and seniors. Modifications such as installing ramps, handrails, and grab bars, or replacing doorknobs with levers, can make a big difference.
Furthermore, removing mobility barriers in the bathroom is extremely important to prevent falls and injuries. With these tips in mind, you can create a safe and independent environment for everyone!
Safe Home Pro offers a vast selection of quality and affordable mobility and accessibility equipment for your home and vehicles in the Greater Charlotte Area. We also provide professional installations, maintenance, and repairs. Learn more about our products by calling (704) 604 0193 or emailing us!