What do you need for a Maintenance Free Accessible Home?

Universal/accessible design of the home from an occupational therapy and a construction perspective. This blog is part of a quest for cool, convenient, functional design that makes life safer, easier, and as maintenance-free as possible. It's about the lifestyle.

Checklist for Accessible Home Features:

Low-­‐maintenance exterior (vinyl, brick)
Low-­‐maintenance shrubs and plants
Deck, patio, or balcony surfaces are no more than 1⁄2 inch below interior floor level if made of wood

Overall Floor Plan
Main living on a single story, including full bath
No steps between rooms/areas on the same level
5-­‐foot by 5-­‐foot clear/turn space in living area, kitchen, a bedroom, and a bathroom 

Minimum of 36 inches wide, wider preferred Well lit
Accessible path of travel to the home
At least one no-­‐step entry with a cover
Sensor light at exterior no-­‐step entry focusing on the front-­‐door lock
There needs to be 32 inches of clear width, which requires a 36-­‐inch door
Non-­‐slip flooring in foyer
Entry door sidelight or high/low peep hole viewer; sidelight should provide both privacy and safety Doorbell in accessible location
Surface to place packages on when opening door

Flush preferable
Exterior maximum of 1⁄2 inch beveled Interior maximum of 1⁄4 inch

Interior Doors
There needs to be 32 inches of clear width, which requires a 36-­‐inch door
Levered door hardware
Plenty of windows for natural light
Lowered windows or taller windows with lower sill height Low maintenance exterior and interior finishes
Easy to operate hardware

Garage or Carport
Covered carports and boarding spaces
Wider than average carports to accommodate lifts on vans
Door heights may need to be nine feet to accommodate some raised roof vans
Five-­‐foot minimum access aisle between accessible van and car in garage
If code requires floor to be several inches below entrance to house for fume protection, can slope entire floor from front to back to eliminate need for ramp or step
Ramp to doorway if needed
Handrail if steps

Lever handles or pedal-­‐controlled Thermostatic or anti-­‐scald controls Pressure balanced faucets
Kitchen and Laundry
Wall support and provision for adjustable and/or varied height counters and removable base cabinets Upper wall cabinetry three inches lower than conventional height
Accented stripes on edge of countertops to provide visual orientation to the workspace
Counter space for dish landing adjacent to or opposite all appliances

Base cabinet with roll out trays and lazy susans Pull-­‐down shelving
Glass-­‐front cabinet doors
Open shelving for easy access to frequently used items

Easy to read controls
Washing machine and dryer raised 12 to 15 inches above floor Front loading laundry machines
Microwave oven at counter height or in wall
Side-­‐by-­‐side refrigerator/freezer
Side-­‐swing or wall oven

Raised dishwasher with pushbutton controls
Electric cook top with level burners for safety in transferring between the burners, front controls and downdraft feature to pull heat away from user; light to indicate when surface is hot

30-­‐inch by 48-­‐inch clear space at appliances or 60-­‐inch diameter clear space for turns Multi-­‐level work areas to accommodate cooks of different heights
Open under-­‐counter seated work areas
Placement of task lighting in appropriate work areas

Loop handles for easy grip and pull
Pull-­‐out spray faucet; levered handles
In multi-­‐story homes, laundry chute or laundry facilities in master bedroom

Wall support and provision for adjustable and/or varied height counters and removable base cabinets Contrasting color edge border at countertops
At least one wheelchair maneuverable bath on main level with 60-­‐inch turning radius or acceptable T-­‐ turn space and 36-­‐inch by 36-­‐inch or 30-­‐inch by 48-­‐inch clear space

Bracing in walls around tub, shower, shower seat, and toilet for installation of grab bars to support 250 -­‐ 300 pounds
If stand-­‐up shower is used in main bath, it is curbless and minimum of 36 inches wide
Bathtub -­‐ lower for easier access

Fold down seat in the shower
Adjustable/ handheld showerheads, 6-­‐foot hose
Tub/Shower controls offset from center
Shower stall with built-­‐in antibacterial protection
Light in shower stall
Toilet 2 1⁄2 inches higher than standard toilet (17 to 19 inches) or height-­‐adjustable Design of the toilet paper holder allows rolls to be changed with one hand Wall-­‐hung sink with knee space and panel to protect user from pipes Slip-­‐resistant flooring in bathroom and shower

Stairways, Lifts, and Elevators
Adequate hand rails on both sides of stairway, 1 1⁄4-­‐inch diameter
Increased visibility of stairs through contrast strip on top and bottom stairs, color contrast between treads and risers on stairs and use of lighting
Multi-­‐story homes may provide either pre-­‐framed shaft (ie. stacked closets) for future elevator, or stairway width must be minimum of 4 feet to allow space for lift
Residential elevator or lift

Slope no greater than one inch rise for each 12 inches in length, adequate handrails
Five-­‐foot landing provided at entrance Two-­‐inch curbs for safety
Adjustable closet rods and shelves
Lighting in closets
Easy open doors that do not obstruct access

Electrical, Lighting, Safety, and Security
Light switches by each entrance to halls and rooms
Light receptacles with at least two bulbs in vital places (exits, bathroom)
Light switches, thermostats, and other environmental controls placed in accessible locations no higher than 48 inches from floor
Electrical outlets 15 inches on center from floor; may need to be closer than 12 feet apart
Clear access space of 30 inches by 48 inches in front of switches and controls
Rocker or touch light switches
Audible and visual strobe light system to indicate when the doorbell, telephone or smoke or CO2 detectors have been activated
High-­‐tech security/intercom system that can be monitored, with the heating, air conditioning, and lighting, from any TV in the house
Easy-­‐to-­‐see and read thermostats
Pre-­‐programmed thermostats
Flashing porch light or 911 switch
Direct wired to police, fire, and EMS (as option)
Home wired for security
Home wired for computers

Smooth, non-­‐glare, slip-­‐resistant surfaces, interior and exterior
If carpeted, use low (less than 1⁄2 inch high pile) density, with firm pad Color/texture contrast to indicate change in surface levels

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning
HVAC should be designed so filters are easily accessible Energy-­‐efficient units
Windows that can be opened for cross ventilation, fresh air

Energy-­‐Efficient Features
In-­‐line framing with two by six studs spaced 24-­‐inch on center
Air-­‐barrier installation and sealing of duct work with mastic
Reduced-­‐size air conditioning units with gas furnaces
Mechanical fresh air ventilation, installation of air returns in all bedrooms and use of carbon monoxide

Installation of energy efficient windows with Low-­‐E glass

Reduced Maintenance/Convenience Features
Easy to clean surfaces Central vacuum
Built-­‐in pet feeding system Built-­‐in recycling system Video phones

Intercom system

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