Making Your Home Accessible With a Wheel Chair Ramp

Making your home more accessible for handicapped aids like wheelchairs is a must for many of people with either disabilities or for the elderly. Typically the first step to make in a lack of mobility situation is to install a wheelchair ramp.  Having a ramp installed on your home will improve a person’s life tremendously by entering and exiting the house freely and independently with little to no help from other members of the family.

There are many options for installing or building a wheelchair ramp that can be quite easy to accomplish and have a few options to consider. One choice you can decide on is to take the route of DIY and have the family join together for a weekend project or option #2 is to hire a professional to install one for you. No matter your choice of individual you decide to complete the job, there are some key elements to building and designing the ideal wheelchair ramp for you.

Choosing a ramp that’s right for you

Each accessibility ramp is unique and choosing one that is the right fit for your needs is most important. There are many factors to consider when finding the perfect wheelchair ramp for your home. First question to ask your self is; what type of mobile aid(s) will the person use? Also, there is a chance that the mobile aid that the person is currently using could evolve and change over time. Maybe they currently use a cane or walker but as the years go on, a person may need to switch to a wheelchair as they continue to age.

The next question to consider is; what entrance of the house is the accessibility ramp going to be installed on? Some homes will have obstacles that need to be taken into consideration such as landscape features that will need to be built around. It is also important to check with any zoning requirements in your area through the township or HOA that may require special requirements. Next, deciding on the material you want to use in the construction of the ramp needs to be chosen. Your budget and preference on whether function is more important than curb appeal will help in these decisions. Also Depending on the material chosen, this may or may not make it harder to move at a later time if the ramp is not intended on being a permanent fixture on the home. Lastly, a question to ask yourself about your unique ramp is; how much time do you want to put into construction? It is sometimes best to consult a professional contractor to complete the ramp installation.

Designing the Ramp

The design and requirements of your ramp will be unique because of the factors such as layout of the home or yard and the height needed for ramp. A short ramp would do perfect for a situation with only a couple steps or less than 3 foot incline but if your home is higher off the ground, a ramp will need to be designed with platforms so the incline is not so steep. Platforms are flat landing areas that help break up a ramp to allow the incline to only reach 30 inches. The Recommendation from ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) that platforms are minimum 60 inches square in order to allow a user enough space to turn in a wheelchair as needed. This also allows a person to stop moving and take a break when needed. Platforms also assist in navigating around obstacles or allow ramps to fit in smaller areas.

The width of the wheel chair ramp is another important aspect to measure for your design. It is recommended by ADA a minimum of 36 inches in between hand rails. This specific measurement should allow even manual wheelchairs the ability to fit comfortably. A reminder to measure in between the closest part of hand rail not at the base otherwise it could cause a person in wheelchair to hit their elbows on the railing if too close.

Guidelines are put into place by ADA to insure that the utmost safety is guaranteed. If working with a contractor, be sure they are building your ramp to be ADA compliant in order to successfully build and design a ramp with safety in mind. If installing a ramp at a business and is not ADA compliant, you can expect it to lead to fines in future as well. Some of these guidelines include: no- skid surfaces, handrails on both sides for any ramp longer than 6 inches, platforms installed if ramp is over 30 feet, and at least a 2 inch flange on bottom sides of ramp to prevent slipping off.

Ramp Materials

Two materials that you can choose from when building your ramp is either wood or metal. Of course with every option, each has their advantages and disadvantages. In the end, no matter the material you choose a ramp should be secured strongly to the ground and anti slip surface added. Taking a closer look at wood ramps, they are typically used in a permanent setting and if built correctly they can last for many years and add true value to your home. The surface of the decking is very important to ensure it is non slip. If ramp is made with a bad type of wood, it will quickly become very slippery in wet weather for everyone using it not only for the disabled. Make sure to do your research on companies who produce ADA-compliant composite materials such as Trex Accents that help increase traction on its surface.

When taking a look at metal for material of choice on your wheel chair ramps aluminum is a top contender. A primary advantage of metal as your material is the ease of installation. Some installs can be done in an hour and also easily removed and transported to a new home if and when needed. If needing a more complex design, metal ramps are great options for this as well and can be custom designed with platforms. The overall appearance of a metal ramp is much pleasing to your curb appeal but there are some that have been designed to look less medical looking.

Prebuilt or Custom Wheelchair Ramps

There are several companies through medical supply or home improvement stores that can assist when choosing a pre-built ramp that is ready to be installed and can be easier route for many compared to building new from scratch. On the other hand, if deciding to build and design your own wheelchair ramp it can be a cost savings on materials but will take more time than installing a pre- built option. Another great advantage of a custom ramp is that is can fit an individuals needs and overcome any special challenges. Hiring a professional contractor to help with your ramp needs will save you time and make this project much less stressful from start to finish.

Glen Miller the Home Doctor is a licensed general contractor servicing Livingston County and the surrounding areas.  Glen offers a wide range of services including home maintenance plans, age in place remodeling, kitchen and bathroom remodeling, finished basements, and hardwood floor refinishing.  More information can be found online at https://www.glenmillerthehomedoctor.com/.

Planning Your Home For Aging In Place Renovations

In general, society tends to shy away from talking about and planning for the steps necessary as we age.  The hard-cold truth though is that we are all going to get older.  We will start to lose the ability to do as we once did and eventually will need aides in place to assist us with everyday tasks.  Age in place remodeling allows us to be in charge in the changes happening in our homes.  Beginning this process sooner rather than later allows for better planning and helps to create a safer, more usable space that is easy for homeowners of all ages to live in. 

Below is a list of age in place renovation ideas to help get you inspired during your next remodeling project.  It is important to take control of your quality of life while you are still fully in charge to ensure your own personal comfort in your home throughout the aging process.

Age in Place Kitchen Renovation Ideas

Kitchens are a key space in renovating for aging as much of our time is spent in the space.  Elements to consider include:

  • Sinks:  If possible, install a motorized sink that can raise and lower. These are a perfect addition for individuals who are unable to stand for long periods of time or are wheelchair bound.  Increasing the height of a sink can be beneficial as well as it offers support to lean upon for those using the sink in an upright position.  Consider installing a shallow sink with a hands-free faucet element with a pull-out sprayer are beneficial as well. 
  • Cabinets:  Install cabinet hardware that can easily be opened and closed, most often “D” shape pulls work the best.  Cabinets with shelving that is easily pushed in and pulled out is the best suited option for both top and bottom cabinets when remodeling a kitchen for aging in place.
  • Appliances: The installation of universally designed appliances is a major advantage when renovating your kitchen for ease of use for aging homeowners.  To save money, invest in energy saving appliances that are specifically made for easy use of individuals that are aging. 

Age in Place Bathroom Remodeling Ideas

Bathrooms are another space within the home that are used daily.  Elements to consider in age in place bathroom renovations include:

  • Space: The less clutter and the more open floor space the better.  If aides such as a wheelchair or cane are needed it is crucial that there is space within the room to move about.
  • Toilets:  A seat extender can be used on a standard toilet height however a taller toilet is the best option.  Install a toilet that can accommodate aging users with limited mobility.  It gets harder to stand up off a toilet the lower the basin is.  Consider adding a budget for improved hygiene.  Toilet paper holders should be installed within easy sitting reach. 
  • Grab Bars: Anytime you can add on support it increases the safety of a room and task ten-fold.  Consider adding grab bars around the toilet and shower.  Grab bars should support upwards of 300 pounds.  Textured grab bars are better than non textured.
  • Bathtubs/Showers: Standard bathtubs are not ideal for aging individuals.  If possible, replace standard tubs with walk-in tubs or a no threshold shower.  It is crucial to offer seating either permanent or temporary, adjustable shower heads with a hand-held option, and a non-slip floor.

Each room in your home from the laundry room to the garage should all be included in planned age in place renovations.  It is important that spaces are uncluttered, free of throw rugs, and made to be as easy to use as possible.  If there is a simpler way to complete everyday tasks make sure it is in place to bring as much ease of living as possible to your home and loved ones.

Glen Miller the Home Doctor is a licensed general contractor servicing Livingston County and the surrounding areas.  Glen offers a wide range of services including home maintenance plans, age in place remodeling, kitchen and bathroom remodeling, finished basements, and hardwood floor refinishing.  More information can be found online at https://www.glenmillerthehomedoctor.com/.

What Should I Know About Universal Design and Remodeling My Bathroom?

The first thing you should know is that when accessible bathroom design is done well, it will be a perfect blend between function, form, and aesthetics.  Thanks to all of the advancements in universal bathroom design, contractors are able to transform and everyday space into and accessible sanctuary that is safe for everyone to use. Contractors combine products designed for patient safety with interior design ideas in order to create a bathroom that is functional regardless of age or ability. 

Take a look at how the licensed and insured Universal Design contractors at Glen Miller the Home Doctor can create a bathroom space that keeps you safe as you age in place without compromising on aesthetics.

Cupboards Hung On the Wall

Wall hung cabinets are best as they can be hung at any height needed while minimizing obstruction of objects on the floor.  Cabinets made from natural and easy to maintain materials are perfect for use in age in place bathroom remodeling. Wall hung cabinets give a contemporary feel with a minimalist approach that is perfect for use in Universal Design.

Walk-In Tubs and Showers

Two very unique concepts but both providing function, safety, and beauty: walk-in tubs and threshold free showers are popular options in bathroom remodeling.  Age in place showers have come a long way since the days of installing grab bars around an old ceramic tub.  Accessible showers are now created using slip-resistant tiles, built in seating, built in grab bars, and removable shower heads.  Thus, creating a luxury spa like shower that can be enjoyed without the worry of falls while getting clean.  Accessible tubs make bathing possible without the dangers associated with limited mobility.

Toilet Accessibility

Another important element in Universal Bathroom design is the accessibility to the toilet without the need for assistance. To accommodate aging bodies or ones with disabilities it is crucial to have a toilet that is easy to access.  This means the height of the toilet is adjusted to be higher and grab bar support to help ease the up and down are in place. This also means installing toilet paper roles at a height and location that is accessible without any real reaching.  Don’t skimp and install a raised toilet chair if you are redesigning a bathroom for Universal Design.  Spend the little bit extra to install a secure, higher height toilet.  It is usable for individuals of all abilities with very little noticeable difference to standard toilets.

The whole concept of Universal Design is to create a space that blends functionality with home design; creating a space that is safe to use for individuals of all ages and abilities.

Glen Miller the Home Doctor is a licensed general contractor servicing Livingston County and the surrounding areas.  Glen offers a wide range of services including home maintenance plans, age in place remodeling, kitchen and bathroom remodeling, finished basements, and hardwood floor refinishing.  More information can be found online at https://www.glenmillerthehomedoctor.com/.

What Should You Know About Aging in Place?

Financially, It’s Worth Tweaking

The average cost in the United States to live in an assisted living community is upwards of around thirty-six hundred dollars a month, that is roughly forty-two thousand dollars a year.  Age in place modifications for the average single-story home on the other hand are roughly between ten and fifteen thousand dollars.  That is one heck of a cost savings over the course of seven to ten years.  If simple age in place modifications can keep you at home even one year longer than you anticipated the amount you save is astronomical.

Don’t Over Complicate

Even the smallest updates can make a huge difference in how you co-exist with your home.  Start with something as little as replacing the hardware on doorknobs, cabinets, and more.  In bathrooms it is important to install sturdy grab bars, replace dual faucets with single-handled faucets, upgrade the toilet to a comfort height style, and increase the amount of lighting.  Kitchens are much like bathrooms with the addition of roll-out shelving and undercabinet lighting.

Renovate for Accessibility

Accessibility modifications are costlier than the previously mentioned simpler updates in hardware and lighting but can add more independent living years for you.   Consider installing a handicap ramp to entry ways with steps.  Depending on the length and incline needed a wheelchair ramp can be installed for under three thousand dollars.  Another common accessibility renovation that is recommended is the installation of a lip free shower.  If you choose custom-tiles, upgraded materials, fixtures, and fixings a custom, curb-free shower can run a family up to fifteen thousand dollars whereas simple, modular options run around three thousand dollars installed.

Think Bigger

Sometimes structural changes to the home are needed.  Some of these options can include widening doorways, creating a more open floor plan by eliminating walls, and event he addition of elevators in some cases.  If you are doing a major renovation to the home that is the time to think about the longevity of your life in the home.  It is less expense to do large structural changes while doing major renovations within your home.

Considering Using the Equity in Your Home

With the equity that has built up in your home over time there are multiple ways to pay for age in place modifications:

  • Cash-Out Refinance of Your Mortgage
  • A Home Equity Loan
  • Line of Credit
  • Reverse Mortgage

Glen Miller the Home Doctor is a licensed general contractor servicing Livingston County and the surrounding areas.  Glen offers a wide range of services including home maintenance plans, age in place remodeling, kitchen and bathroom remodeling, finished basements, and hardwood floor refinishing.  More information can be found online at https://www.glenmillerthehomedoctor.com/.

 

 

The Realities of Age in Place Remodeling

Although a new concept, aging in place has become a notion that not only seniors but middle-aged people have started to appreciate the importance of.  Not only does it make sense because it makes life easier for you but also from a financial stand point.

 

No one ever wants to discuss getting older and not being able to care for themselves as they are today.  Trust me, I get that; I know for me it is one thing that is brought up all to often among my kids when talking with me and it is the last thing I really want to talk with them about.  However, the facts exist, whether we want to talk about it or plan for it, we will get older.

 

It is important to understand that if your goal is to remain in your home for as long as possible then the sooner you start preparing for the aging process the better.  Yes, you may only be in your forties but if you are already considering renovations around the home then you should start to include features that will make it easier to grow old with.

 

Aging isn’t really the problem.  The issue arises from the affects of aging.  There are several changes that occur mentally, physically, and your abilities overall tend to slow down.  It becomes harder to navigate the terrain later in life as the freedoms you once had become more difficult.

What Are Dangers In Waiting to Renovate To Accommodate Aging Needs

There are two areas in which I want to focus today as we discuss aging and the desire to stay within our homes, caring for ourselves: What are the most realistic dangers physically, mentally, and financially? and What will occur if you wait to act now?

Risk Of Falling

The biggest issue found in emergency rooms involving seniors comes from accidental falls.  Not only does the fall impact you today but also your future lifestyle.  Protecting yourself from accidental spills around the home is just one of the precautions that need to be considered sooner than later.  If you are considering an update to your flooring be sure to use materials that offer some type of slip resistance, even when wet.  The flooring should also take into consideration navigation, if a wheelchair or walker should be needed, the ease of maintenance, as well as the about of cushion and comfort it provides.  A side effect of falling is an increase in serious, debilitating, long lasting issues from broken hips to an increase in dementia.  It is crucial that steps are taken very early on to prevent the risk of falling as a fall will significantly decrease your quality of life.

 

If you wait to start planning and remodeling until after an incident you are really putting yourself in danger not only physically but mentally and financially as well.  The less able you are to take care of your self the more mentally frustrated you will become.  Especially for those of us who have remained active and are living a physical lifestyle.  Financially we are also affected because are ability to earn income will decrease and our care expenses will increase.

 

It comes down to the reality that designing and preparing your home for aging in place when renovating not only is a solid financial investment but also makes your home safer to live in right now.  Added safety around your home whether you are in your thirties or fifties can’t hurt.   Age in place remodeling helps increase your longevity and preventing accidents such as unexpected falls.   Without remodeling with aging in mind you could lose tens of thousands of dollars each year as you pay for assisted living and nursing home care.

 

Glen Miller the Home Doctor is a licensed general contractor servicing Livingston County and the surrounding areas.  Glen offers a wide range of services including home maintenance plans, age in place remodeling, kitchen and bathroom remodeling, finished basements, and hardwood floor refinishing.  More information can be found online at https://www.glenmillerthehomedoctor.com/.