Wheelchair accessible house design -- sometimes also referred to as universal design -- includes home design features that start with the floor plan itself. While thought of as for older Americans or those with a disability, many of these ideas make sense regardless of age and ability. Here are five tips on what to look for in a house plan or design that will make life a bit easier for someone who is less mobile or requires a wheelchair:
Tip 1. A No-Step Entry. You should look for a house plan with at least one entryway which involves no steps from the outside into the home. This may be the front door, back entry or even through the garage. This allows for someone with a wheelchair -- or anyone for that matter -- to enter the home with ease. Consider sliding doors with easy-to-open handles to allow for greater access to the outdoors.
Tip 2. Wide Doorways and Halls. For a wheelchair accessible home plan, doorways should be at least 36 inches wide while hallways should be at least 42 inches wide. Make sure there are not too many tight corners in the halls, bathrooms or kitchens which could make navigation difficult.
Tip 3. Consider a Single Level or One Story Floor Plan. Having everything on a single floor or story removes the challenges of climbing or descending stairs. It also makes for easier day-to-day living. For those looking at a two story home, make sure consider the width of the stairway as well as the option to install an elevator at some point to the future (depending on your budget).
Tip 4. Kitchens and Bathrooms with Plenty of Space. Individuals often take for granted how little space may be required cook a meal in the kitchen or take a shower in the bathroom. However, this may not be the case for someone who requires the use of a wheelchair or is older. Plans should allow for easy navigation in both the kitchen and bathroom by avoiding sharp, narrow turns.
Tip 5. Reachable and Easy-to-Use Controls and Switches. When it comes time to build, consider the height of many everyday items like light switches, electrical outlets, and even thermostats.