Winner of the First Design for the 3-Bedroom Wheelchair Accessible House Plan

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.

This floor plan was the design our clients preferred, but it needs to be modified.  Please read on and give suggestions if you have any good ideas. 

Why they chose this design:

  • Liked how the kitchen faced the outside and because there is a door close to the kitchen that will go to their patio.  They grill almost everyday and having easy access to the grill from the kitchen is important to them.

The second choice:


Why they chose this design:

  • Liked the master bathroom.

  • Liked the kitchen. 

     The Design they chose will need to be altered, it is not completely accessible. 

     Issues with this design:

    • Need bathtub in master bathroom.
    • Master bedroom closet is 5' wide which is enough for a wheelchair to turn around but not for a rack of clothes on each side of the closet,  master bedroom closet needs to be 9' wide.
    • Family does not want toilet in utility room.
    • Garage needs to have 2-12' doors and face the east so there won't be as much as an issue with snow build-up in the winter.
    • Only 4' between kitchen cabinets and island, needs to be a minimum of 5' to allow wheelchair access.
    • Family doesn't care about having a formal dining room, would like to have more storage for food from kitchen.
    • Need a wood stove to heat house included in plan. 
    • Family currently has a sunroom full of plants and would like a sunroom for plants in their new house as well.

Anyone have any design suggestions?  

Go to bottom of page and fill out form and we'll send you PDF and CAD copies of the drawings.

If you'd like I can send you a floor plan in PDF or in a CAD compatible drawing, just send fill out the form at the bottom of this post.  Or post your suggestions.  We'll keep you updated on how this plays out.

Information about family:

  • Mom, dad and two teenage girls.
  • Family is very much into homesteading, raise animals, have a garden, make their own maple syrup, can vegetables and fruits.
  • Not concerned about aesthetics more concerned about function.
  • Mom is in a wheelchair full time.
  • Mom transfers with a transfer board so requires 4' of space to align wheelchair to transfer, important next to master bathroom toilet.
  • House will be situated on 18 acres of land, no worries about setbacks etc.


Lynette Evans said...

Seems like the only thing the family likes about the chosen plan is the placement of the kitchen. Should really start over; proper programming would make this a much clearer challenge and the access issues can be addressed without scrimping in other areas. I see more issues than access with this plan, such as having to enter the eating nook to get to the great room and having to transverse the kitchen to reach the master bedroom and great room to reach the other bedrooms. Not to mention the placement of the fireplace/woodstove.
Lynette Evans


My approach is from the Fair Housing Standards, Ansi 117.1 and ADA 2010. Since we do not know the limitations of the users, may not apply:
1. Kitchen: The base cabinet for preparation should be lowered to 34" and have knee and toe clearance. Electrical switches and plugs need to be accessible.
The sink needs to be accessible for a front approach, which will require knee and toe clearance, max height of 34".

Space on left side of dishawasher, assuming it is to the right of the sink, needs kneed and toe clearance for fron approach to load and unload.

Upper cabinet height?
Oven access, controls?
Does island have cooktop? Access to controls and forward approach
Switches for lights, Height?

Grab Bars at water closet, you can do fold down, do nto recommend.


Door Track at sliding door, height?

Standard wheel chair or electric? Electric is wider.

Pull side clearance on the doors in the utility room and bedroom #3. You need 18".

How do you exit #2. Do not see door...


Does the occupant have any gripping or use of arms issues?

Karen Koch said...

No her upper extremities are functional, she had a leg amputated and the other leg is injured so she uses a wheelchair. Good question.

Karen Koch said...

You sound like you've done this before Stephen. The client utilizes an electric chair and good point we need pull side clearance next to the doors. I don't know why there is no door for the bedroom.:-)

The other details we will need to dive into after we nail down the design although this is not ADA this will all be based on user measurements and needs. One thing the client has stated is she does not want any outlets higher or switches lowered. I'm surprised you mentioned that, those little details usually get missed. You have definitely done this before.

Thank you for working on this, I'd like this design to be perfect.

Karen Koch said...


Nice website, is worth checking out.

The woodstove we are going to relocate. The clients haven't been able to say exactly what they want so we've been going over floor plans with them. As far as crossing the various rooms they haven't said that's an issue. I'm not a fan of hallways and wheelchairs, it just seems like wasted space.


Laundry rooms and garage are sometimes below the finished floor of the living area. Make sure you have access with a maximum ramp of 1:12.

I am not saying the house should be built as an ADA project, however the Fair Housing Act, accessible spaces are built around these proven standards of reach ranges, slopes, width, etc.

Good Luck


Jim Costello said...

I tend to agree,the plan has some of the requirements the family chose but this is clearly a standard home design with a few larger spaces for wheelchair access. I'm not crazy about the flow through the spaces either,I think another look at room placement would be helpful. I have requested a PDF so I will play around with that but just a few of the things I would look at right off the bat, are using pocket doors (at least) for the Mstr. Bdrm. Master Bath and Closet.

If the Mom has normal grip and dexterity the pocket doors (and the patio slider) would be accessible with the right hardware, but pneumatic openers would make them very usable without adding much cost. In fact, the cost of the openers is typically offset by the increase in usable floorspace.

The laundry/utility room needs some work, like a pocket door into the home (so the two doors don't hit each other) also a stack-able washer dryer would make laundry easier and also save floor space.

The kitchen needs a lot of thought to make it as accessible as possible to Mom while still usable by the rest of the family. If the island does not need a sink or cooktop in it, they may want to consider a large cart that looks like and island but can be moved easily to make the space more versatile.

Jim Costello
Sr. Adaptive Designer
Affordable Adaptive Solutions