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What to Know If You’re Making Your Bathroom Handicap Accessible

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Most homes are sadly not built to be handicap accessible right from the get go. There’s often a significant amount of remodeling needed for homeowners who need to accommodate a handicap, For example, ramps or handrails are often installed, hallways and doorways need to be expanded, non-slip flooring needs to be installed, and accessible switches, shelves, doors, faucets, and drawers all need to be accounted for. Similarly, entries and showers might need to have a step removed. One of the most important things for many handicapped individuals is to have a handicap bathroom design that works for them. They may want the independence — and privacy — to shower, use the bathroom, get ready in the morning, etc., without the assistance of others. If you’re working with an existing home, it’s likely that a bathroom remodel will be in order.

Let’s Talk About a Bathroom Remodel in General
Bathrooms — even without remodeling to accommodate handicaps — are usually one of the top problem rooms of a house. The National Association of Home Builders conducted a survey that found that the remodeling job most requested in the United States was that of bathroom remodeling — almost 80% of renovations focus on this! Almost 75% of homeowners who are doing a bathroom renovation are doing so with a bathroom that was updated 16 (or more) years ago. And the most popular items to replace in the bathroom are flooring, countertops, showers, and sinks — almost 90% of homeowners are doing a shower remodel.

However, if you need to remodel a bathroom so that a person with a handicap can easily and safely use it, there are many other elements you need to consider, other than updating appliances and making it look more aesthetically appealing.

What Should I Consider With a Handicap Bathroom Design?

It’s important to consult with the person you’re designing the bathroom for. Their needs may be a bit different than what you expect. You’ll want to ask them what activities they’ll need assistance with and where any medical supplies — if they’re needed — should be located for easy access. Roll-in showers are popular, but your loved one may prefer a tub.

Ask them where they think grab bar locations are going to be the most helpful. And you’ll want to be looking ahead too — if your loved one’s condition gets worse, you want the room to already reflect aspects that can help them carry out their routine comfortably, even with the deterioration.

Non-slip floors, grab bars, and anti-scalding valves are important elements of a shower or a tub, as is good lighting and glass walls (as opposed to a shower curtain). In terms of a sink or a mirror — make sure the individual can see him or herself in the mirror when seated, and that there’s enough room under the sink for them to fit their legs under when they roll up to it. The toilet should also be accessible from a seated position, with enough supports for someone to get out of a wheelchair and onto the toilet.

All outlets, faucets, light switches, shelving, and accessories should be placed well in arms’-length for maximum convenience.

Who Can I Turn to For Help With the Handicap Bathroom Design?

You’ll likely want to consult with an architect and/or designer, who specializes in this kind of remodel. They’ll have previous experience and knowledge about ADA rules and what little touches will make life easier for the individual(s) using the room.

And you never want to forget to ask for the individual’s input on the bathroom — after all, the handicap bathroom design is being created for them, so they need to feel comfortable with the changes being made.

Once you have plans drawn up, it’s time to talk to the bathroom contractor and lay out the work that needs to be done for the most convenient and accessible bathroom possible.

Remodeling a bathroom so it’s handicap accessible can make everyone’s life easier — and give the handicapped person a feeling of autonomy and independence, which improves their quality of life. Good references.

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