The Beginnings of an Accessible Home

Three weeks on and a lot has happened on our accessible design project. The house has been stripped down to the bare studs throughout and the brick has all been removed from the rear of the property. Walls are gone, ceilings gone, even garage doors gone. Quite the dramatic transformation in a short period of time.


As I had previously mentioned there has been a lot of legal red tape, more so than with most projects. This whole renovation is needed as a result of a catastrophic injury, so not only does this add a new set of parameters as far as design is concerned but the process is very different also.

The majority of the renovations are covered under insurance. However, it is not all cut and dry. Anything that is deemed an accessibly upgrade is covered by insurance, anything outside of that is covered by the family themselves. If you are about to have your whole house pulled apart to make way for a 12’ full height extension then there are clearly other upgrades that it makes sense to do at the same time but that can become quite costly. The whole project is therefore divided into two categories; insurance and family expenses, with a very fine wiggly line somewhere down the middle. Every single item on the project list has had to be costed, allocated and approved way ahead of time even before any work can begin.

Interim renovations were carried out on the house last year to allow for an accessible ground floor bathroom and bedroom. This meant the family lost their existing powder room, mudroom, living and dining room and limited them to a very small space that the five of them could actually be together in. A smaller kitchen table was needed to make the kitchen more wheelchair accessible, however that resulted in a table too small for five people to sit at. Whilst this all worked in the short term it wasn’t a good solution going forward if they are all to live comfortably in their home again. 

The back of the house is all being extended to allow for the installation of an elevator that will serve all three floors giving full access to the basement, main living floor and second floor where the bedroom and bathrooms are located. This involves a lot of reconfiguring of the existing layout and careful use of space to keep within accessibility codes and guidelines.


Continue Reading