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Tips for Designing an

Accessible Home


When you’re ready to build your own accessible home, it’simportant to learn about design elements that will help guide your plans. Accessiblehomes typically share similar themes, and the right contractor will help youdesign your home to be ADA-compliant, from building an accessible entryway tocreating a kitchen fit wheelchair accessibility.


Elements of an accessible home

While accessible home designs—also known as universal design—canvary dramatically, there are common themes that make a home ADA-compliant. Forexample, accessible homes should be built for wheelchair use, which meansmobility in the home is a major factor in design. This means wider doorways,hallways, and an open floor plan where possible.


A single-story home is best, eliminating the need for ramps andelevators in your design plans. The bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and living roomshould all be located on the ground floor, with as few hallways and doorways aspossible. Consider who the home will be built for, because that will help guideyour decisions about how to design the home for your disabled loved one.


The kitchen should be built with heightrestrictions in mind, keeping countertops lower than in a typical kitchen, andcupboards low enough for a wheelchair user to reach. One helpful feature is tokeep countertops open below—similar to a desk—which will allow a chair to fitunderneath. This will allow a person in a wheelchair to roll right up to thecountertop to help with preparing meals and cleaning up.


Consider the disabled person that will be living in the accessiblehome, and let that help you guide your decision-making. If you’re building fora senior, you may want to includeadditional rooms for caretakers. Alternatively, if your accessible home is fora child who has a disability, the home may include multiple stories or otherelements that are useful and appropriate for the rest of the family.

Call in the experts

Accessible homes require specific design work, which is why it’s agood idea to find contractors who can help. When you’relooking for a contractor, make sure they’rewell-versed in ADA guidelines. You’ll want to discuss your needs—either as adisabled person yourself or for your family member—and come up with creativeways to address those needs. Whether it’s designing a music room with easyaccess to your instruments, or designing the perfect accessible kitchen, a contractor willundoubtedly have some tricks up their sleeves to make it functional. Accessiblehomes have unique elements, which is why you’ll want to have a propertysurveyor take land measurements to determine exact boundaries and potentialrestrictions.


Design considerations

While accessible homes are foremost built for function, there’sstill room for creative design throughout. For ADA-friendly homes, less ismore. Opt for minimal furniture and open spaces, as it will allow your disabledfamily member to move more freely in the space. There are plenty of ways tomake your home both inviting and accessible when it comes time to designing theinterior of an ADA-compliant home.


As you narrow down design plans and the layout for your accessiblehome, remember to keep the disabled household member in mind and includeelements that will make the home both comfortable and functional. Hirecontractors to get the details right, and find a property surveyor who can helpdetermine any boundaries that may apply to your new home. And remember toinclude aesthetic design in your plans; you can make your ADA-compliant homeboth beautiful and accessible with some creativity.

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