How to Measure a Bathroom When Evaluating or Designing for Accessibility

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.
As an occupational therapist or anyone evaluating a home for accessibility it's important to make sure you measure and photograph EVERYTHING in the room or home that you are evaluating for safety and accessibility.  This video demonstrates basic requirements when measuring.

Short written version with photos of the video below:


When redesigning a bathroom for accessibility, measuring and photographing everything is crucial.  Your drawing doesn't have to be pretty but try to make it neat and accurate.

First step in redesigning a bathroom for accessibility:

Take great measurements, you'll need the following:
  • Graph paper.
  • Pen or pencil.
  • Measuring tape (I like the self-locking style.)
  • Laser measures are great but not necessary, just makes life easier (and more fun.)
  • Stud finder is important to have if recommending grab bars.
  • Bag for everything so you don't lose anything, unless you have a lot of pockets.
  • Last but not least-CAMERA, take loads of photos you won't regret it.

Be sure to measure:
  1. Measure the door, both the width of the door itself and the clearance of the door.  The clearance of the door is measured from the door jamb to the inside edge (by the hinges) of the door.  Clearance is the amount of space the user actually has when passing through the door.
  2. Measure the total length and width of the bathroom.
  3. Measure all the bathroom features, short walls, sinks, toilets, tubs, closets, etc.
  4. Measure clear space between fixtures and the wall, the passage ways.
  5. Be sure to measure the wheelchair or other adaptive equipment as well. 

Photograph EVERYTHING!!!  You'll regret it if you don't.

A few tips to make sure you don't forget:

  • Get photographs from close-up and from far away.  You need to have photographs of the whole space so you have reference points for your design.
    • Get photos and measurements of adaptive equipment the person uses.

    •  Photo where the heat ducts and electrical are located. 

      • If possible get photos of the plumbing, and water heater.
  •   Measure an individual tile so if you forget to get a measurement you can still figure out the space based on the photo.

    Photograph the entire bathroom if possible.

    Don't forget the little things.

    Always good to get the door in different stages of swing.

    Always get a photo of behind the door.

    Always get shower controls and shower heads.

    Measuring an individual tile is a good idea in case you need to figure out measurements you missed you can just count the tiles.


Anyone have any tools they like to use or tips for measuring or photographing when evaluating for redesigning a bathroom. 


Matthew Longman, CAPS, RMT said...

Really helpful article. A couple of things to consider: what kind of plumbing access is beneath the floor if replacing a tub or shower. Wood floors and joists are fairly simple, a concrete floor can cause complications, depending on your upgrades.
Standard toilets are bolted min 12" from the back wall, some older toilets are bolted 10" from the wall, and replacing these may require a bit of drain modification, or searching for a toilet with 10"base. For tight-fitting showers/tubs; sometimes the wall-studs can be turned 90 degrees for additional clearance.
As a CAPS and product designer, there's often more than one solution to create a barrier-free space.

Dvora said...

Hi. Love your video about bathroom measurements. I have an elderly client who sits (slouches in posterior pelvic tilt) in a dining room chair. He has difficulty rising from the chair and sitting down. I want to suggest an armchair but his health aide complains that the chair is too heavy as it is to help him tuck into/out of the table. Is there a chair on wheels that locks or perhaps some other solution?
Dvora Margolis, OTR/L,CAPS

Karen Koch said...

Thank you Dvora. There is a really great chair called a Vela Tango chair which is similar to a office chair that you can propel with your feet easily and locks, here's the link

Or there is a really cool shower chair that would work at a table or as a lawn chair. Here is the link:

Good luck, let me know how it goes.

Online Plumbing Supplies said...

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