Home Without Limits: Accessible House Design
By: Danny Lipford
Here are some tips on how to make your home – including the kitchen, bathroom, and yard – more accessible for those with physical limitations due to age, accident, or illness.
Accessible Home Design Features
When buying, building, or remodeling a home for easy accessibility, look for:
- One-story, single level house with a level lot and driveway.
- An open floor plan with wide openings between rooms.
- Minimum of 32” wide clear openings in doorways (36” preferred).
- Hard, even surfaces for floors, such as tile or wood.
- Lever action handles on doors.
- Zero height door thresholds.
- Casement windows that crank open.
- Grab bars or temporary grab poles, such as the Super Pole System.
Accessible Bathroom Design Features
When designing or remodeling a bathroom for easy accessibility, include:
- Grab bars on walls, particularly in or near the tub and shower.
- Level, no threshold, entry for shower.
- Handheld showerhead with built-in controls.
- Walk-in tub or tub with hinged seat.
- Higher toilet seat (17” to 19”) with grab bars.
- Lower bathroom vanity countertop (34” or less).
- Single lever sink and tub faucets.
- Open access under bathroom sink for wheelchairs.
- Full length or lower hung mirrors.
Accessible Kitchen Design Features
When designing or remodeling a kitchen for easy accessibility, include:
- Lower heights for kitchen countertops (can range from 28” to 34”).
- Higher kickspace under kitchen cabinets (10” high by 8” deep).
- Lower hanging cabinets (12” between upper cabinet and countertop).
- Minimum of 40” wide aisle width between opposing cabinets or cabinets and wall.
- Front controls on stoves and other appliances.
- Single lever sink faucet.
Accessible Yard Design Features
When designing a yard for easy accessibility, include:
- Replace steps with ramps at least 36” wide with no steeper than a 1:12 (1” rise to 12” run) slope (ideal 1:16). The maximum length for a ramp without landings is 30’ with a 30” maximum height.
- Wide, even, hard surfaced paths.
- Raised beds for gardening (24” high beds)
- Extension on picnic tables for wheelchair access.
Special thanks to:
- ADA Standards for Accessible Design (U.S. Dept. of Justice)
- Home Adaptations for the Disabled (Colorado State University)
- Gardening from a Wheelchair (Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation)
Other Tips from This Episode
Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Cutoff Valve Handle Extension
To make it easier to turn cutoff valves under sinks, make an extension handle out of 1¼” diameter, schedule 40 PVC pipe. Cut two 1” wide by ½” deep notches in the end of the pipe with a jigsaw, so the pipe fits over the handles on the cutoff valves. Cut the pipe to length, and store it in the sink cabinet for easy access.
Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
Pegasus Decorative Grab Bars
Pegasus decorative grab bars, from their Estates collection, are both attractive and functional. Pegasus grab bars are made of stainless steel and available at The Home Depot in a range of styles and finishes including bronze, polished chrome, and brushed nickel.
Ask Danny Lipford:
Finding Studs Behind a Tile Wall
To locate studs behind a tile wall, use a standard stud finder on the wall above the tile, then extend the line down the wall with a plumb bob or level. If the tile runs all the way to the ceiling, use an enhanced deep sensing stud finder, which can detect studs through various wall surfaces and depths.