In this video, This Old House host Kevin O’Connor and Rick Castino from Operation Independence remodel a home for a wheelchair-enabled homeowner.
Steps for retrofitting a home for accessibility
- Meet with the homeowner and his or her physical therapist to determine which rooms need to be altered to make the home accessible.
- Identify the best entryway into the house. A two-car garage offers ample room to enter and exit a vehicle, and maneuver a wheelchair, especially during inclement weather.
- Walk through the house and look for steps and other obstructions that lead from one room to another.
- Check for obstructions and steps on both sides of the thresholds at patio doors.
- To provide safe access to the second floor, without paying the exorbitant cost of an elevator, consider an automated stair chair.
- Measure all doorways and make note of any that need to be widened to accommodate a wheelchair.
- When evaluating the bathroom, take into account all wheelchair obstacles, including tubs, showers, vanities, and partition walls.
- Install a battery-powered stair chair along the staircase leading from the main living area up to the second floor.
- Build wood ramps or install steel ramps to provide access at all steps. Wheelchair ramps must be 1 foot long for each inch in height, so a 9-inch-high step would require a 9-foot-long ramp.
- Replace a standard tub with a curbless, barrier-free shower stall.
- Nail solid-wood blocking between the wall studs in the bathroom to provide support for grab bars.
- Replace the existing bathroom floor with slip-resistant porcelain tile.
- Install a slide-bar showerhead with handheld sprayer, and an adjustable fixed showerhead, to accommodate people of all physical abilities.
- Mount two or three standard grab bars in the shower stall.
- Double-duty grab bars are also available, including ones that serve as a towel rack, soap dish, and toilet-paper holder.
- Modify the existing vanity to allow the wheelchair to roll beneath the bath sink.
- Mount offset hinges onto the bath door to provide additional clearance into the bathroom.