“Round, round, get around, I get around Yeah
Get around, round, round, I get around I get around … “
If you don’t recognize those lyrics, you are not eligible to read this article. Just kidding. That is the opening salvo from the Beach Boys hit “I Get Around”. Many of us remember it well. Now that we are older, those words may take on a different meaning. Getting around may not be quite as easy for us or someone we care about. Sometimes, life events bring about necessary lifestyle changes. “Getting Around” is no longer taken for granted.
When you walk on a city sidewalk you may notice a slight slope to the street for wheel chair access. When you walk into a restroom you notice an extra large stall for people with special needs and when you park your car you notice places reserved for people with wheel chairs or other health issues. Even elevators are tucked away in hallways and drinking fountains have a large push button on the front side that can be operated without using your fingers. Well, it has not always been that way. The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 to provide guidelines insuring that people who have difficulty accessing or otherwise using public facilities, from sidewalks to restrooms, can do so in the most convenient and safe manner possible. When first instated there was significant resistance to the ADA because of the modification expenses that many businesses incurred. It also did not come cheap for cities and other municipalities. But, ultimately, everyone had to ask this question; “Is this the right thing to do?” I think that most Americans agreed, “Yes, it is.” Now, 25 years since its introduction, we take the ADA for granted, but things were not always this way in public.
Now, you can make your home safely accessible and usable if the need arises. Safety and access issues may become a concern within your family dwelling someday due to illness or some type of disability of a family member and you can definitely deal with it. Perhaps that is already the case. Here are some ideas and guidelines that you may want to consider in the area that is typically of most concern; the bathroom area.
BUILDING CODES: Sometimes real remodeling is desirable. A good contractor will be reasonably knowledgeable about building codes, but codes do change. Ultimately, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to clarify local building code requirements with the local building codes administration and coordinate with the hired contractor to insure compliance.
WHEEL CHAIRS are a key consideration in most disability modifications. Always plan on a 60” unobstructed circled area for a wheel chair to make a complete circle spin.
If you have a large bathroom in your home, that’s a great start. Many older homes have only a 5’x9’ bathroom with no room to expand. If you have that small bathroom and it is possible to knock out a wall to provide more space, that’s great. If you can’t, well you just have to deal with reality and be creative.
SHOWER AREAS are part of the bathroom, not a separate place. Most likely, the bathroom includes the shower, toilet, and sink/vanity. So, a little planning is in order. Here are some ideas.
- This was a 5′ tub at one time. You may just have to do the best you can do. This was a good option for this homeowner who had no option for enlargement.
BATHROOM DOOR ACCESS: A 36” wide door is usually OK. Even if a wheel chair fits through a 32” door, that can be a real knuckle-buster. A door wider than 36” is rare, but quite nice. If a bathroom is large enough and interior privacy is provided, it may be possible to not have a door. That’s really nice.
VANITY ACCESS: Have you ever considered how you approach a vanity compared to how a person with a disability may do the same? It is probably a somewhat rote act for you, no thought required. For those in a wheel chair or with any number of other physical disabilities, the task may require some assessment of the environment, planning, and maneuvering. Here are a couple ways that you can ease the situation.
- Don’t forget the GRAB BARS. Generally install grab bars 34″-38″ above the floor. Secure the grab bar solidly into wall studs, otherwise they will simply pull out when grabbed. The tube or bar diameter should be 1-1/4′ to 1-1/2″. The hand-space between the wall and grab bar should be about 1-1/2″.
And that’s the INSIDE SCOOP from Uncle Steve.
Advanced Interiors, Inc. has lots of experience with bath remodels and many great TILE products available. It is a great way to go.
FREE IN-HOME ESTIMATES 913-393-1985