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Creating an Accessible Home

'Living in Place' is the point of conversation within the development industry in 2020. This was exhibited at KBIS in January. Manufacturers are putting forth products that allow you to care for your elderly or disabled family members at home, which means developers need to seriously consider accessibility when building and designing a home or commercial space.

Waltham Ave. House I exhibits 'Living in Place' perfectly, as it was designed with a disabled family member in mind. The entire property is wheelchair accessible, there is an elevator in place to ensure indoor accessibility, and said family member's bedroom is customized to suit her care needs. Perhaps my favourite part of this entire home is the way we designed the front steps.

I drew on inspiration from a commercial building I had seen in Downtown Vancouver that has a similar [albeit much larger] staircase-ramp combination in its entrance. This design was perfect because it eliminated the need for a ramp that accessed the home from the back entrance, as this would have taken up much more space from the yard itself. The stair-ramp combination provides an aesthetically pleasing yet functional solution. The railing shown is temporary and will be replaced with one that fits the aesthetic of the home (following final inspection).

The aforementioned family member's bedroom was customized to accommodate her equipment. For instance, there is no door leading into the bathroom because we had to install a ceiling track for her lift. This ceiling track was also optimized to ensure it got her to her bed, shower, and commode with ease.

This particular bedroom is also equipped with a bar sink, microwave, and refrigerator for medication preparation and other care needs, along with additional storage for related items. Including these additional appliances within the room makes it simple and efficient for the caregivers that are working within the home.

Creating an accessible home does not have to involve sacrificing design and the space used for such features. This way of building homes should be seen as standard going forward so we can create homes that are sustainable throughout the homeowners lifespan and therefore different life stages.

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