Beautiful and Accessible | Today’s Accessibility Guide
April 17, 2019 | 6 minute read
People Living Longer and Want to be Independent Longer
It’s in the news daily, people are living longer and striving to stay independent longer. This is only natural, we all want to be in the comfortable familiarity of our own spaces, close to friends, family, and neighbors. And, considering how our mobility changes as we age, many of us will begin tossing around the idea of a remodeling a room or two so that we can live comfortably in our house for as long as possible.
The Home Remodeling Project Challenge
Few things are more anxiety-producing than contemplating and then undertaking a remodeling project for your home of many years. Whether the scope of your project is the entire house or simply a small bathroom, worries spring up to remind of city and county code requirements, demolition noise and dust and then the ultimate redesign and re-creation of the space. And this is exactly why professional remodelers are there to help; knowledge of how to manage such projects while maximizing safety, efficiency, and quality and minimizing cost. Your local professional remodeler has the expertise to complete your project with minimal intrusion on your daily schedule and adhering to the age-old saying of “measure three times, and cut once.”
The Special Challenges of Creating Accessible Spaces
For the aging and independent population, any remodeling project under consideration generally includes accessibility or, as it is sometimes called, Universal Design. Whether a space is considered accessible or not can be answered with three quick questions:
- Can anyone with mobility concerns easily enter and exit the space?
- Once inside the space can anyone with mobility concerns easily navigate the unique features of space?
- And finally, is the space structured so one can maneuver easily within it?
Remodeling for accessibility is generally more expensive than other types of remodels as it requires a higher level of customization than a standard remodel. Some of the main challenges involved in creating accessible spaces come from the spaces themselves. For instance, a necessary bathroom may have a short flight of stairs leading to it creating a real challenge for making it usable.
Likewise, a kitchen may contain a central island or eating bar that presents a barrier to mobility, and these structures may either have to be removed altogether or undergo a significant alteration to make them suitable. Undercounter cabinets may need to be relocated or eliminated to accommodate a wheelchair. That means redeploying the consumed storage space somewhere nearby.
Other major considerations will be where to place electrical outlets, light switches, and thermostats so that they are convenient to use. Lighting is another important consideration as the space must be bright but not glaring and localized task lighting options are always good to have, as are backlit switches so that someone can navigate in the dark.
Make Your Wish List First!
In most cases, creating an accessible home environment is not an inexpensive purchase nor should include cutting corners to save a little up front on the initial cost. After all, remodeling of any kind is considered major construction. And for this reason, it is vitally important to consider all your options even prior to hiring a remodeler contractor.
Use the power of the internet to get ideas, talking to friends who may have made similar modifications to their house are all great ideas and highly recommended. You may prefer to make sketches and jot down ideas to help organize your desires and entirety of needs. All of this will help your future hired contractor better understand where the focus should be and how best they can support and expand upon it.
Remember you are building your wish list, do not rule out the benefits of high-quality workmanship and materials, you may be surprised at how viable they can be for your remodel. And not only that, a quality remodel can significantly increase the value of your home.
Accessibility for the Bathroom, Scope, and Price.
Independent living with mobility issues means the bathroom is likely to be one of the first targets of remodeling for accessibility. There are some very basic requirements for any bathroom remodel. First, there should be enough room to maneuver a wheelchair, and this is a minimum of a 60-inch diameter circle. To ease congestion in the bathroom, an inward swinging door may be reversed to open outward or can be replaced by a sliding or pocket door. Removal of base cabinets may be necessary, and that requires their functionality to be replaced conveniently to another part of the bathroom.
The scope of the project is the sum total of the amount of work to be done, the materials purchased, the professionals hired, etc. And the price increases as the scope increases. You will need someone with the detailed industry knowledge to walk you through these initial stages of the project and, ultimately, through the entire project flow.
Accessibility for the Kitchen, Scope, and Price
To live Independently with mobility issues means the kitchen needs to be designed such that all normal kitchen activities are readily achievable. Kitchens, because they generally have more maneuverable space than bathrooms, are often next on the list. And this, of course, is where budget meets scope. A qualified contractor will have encountered innumerable challenges on this front in the past and will be able to explain where potential problems may crop up and provide a wide range of solutions and countermeasures for their client to consider.
If you ask to see their kitchen project portfolio you will give yourself a better opportunity to question them further on their processes. A quality remodeling contractor will use these portfolio projects to show comparable examples of your unique remodel to help guide you. As a kitchen remodeled for accessibility will look and feel different from a “standard” kitchen, you can ask why they chose to place switches, lighting, and cabinetry where they did. Each project in this respect is a custom project and they will be able to provide a solid reason for the structure and flow of the finished product.
The Cost of Accessibility Does Not Have to be Inaccessible
Most people do not have unlimited budgets, and that should not be despaired upon by your future remodeling company. It does not mean you have to cut corners on the important things. Just as we want a safe car in good condition, we want a house that is pleasant and accommodating for everyone living or visiting there. Many wonderful advances in material sciences have taken place over the years and that means, simply, that what was once thought out of reach for quality materials and features, is now much more within reach of the average homeowner.
If you have any questions or are just in the early phases of considering a remodel project, feel free to contact us at Elite Remodeling. We are Frisco area experts that serve homeowners from Lewisville to Plano and everywhere in-between, including Allen, McKinney, Addison, and far north Dallas. When it comes to helping homeowners realize their needs and vision for the remodeling of their existing home, we have over 20+ years of experience and expertise in the area. Your independence and right to enjoy your home is important to you and it should be important to your contractor as well.