Everything I do, all day, every day, hurts. The more I do things that are painful, the more the pain snowballs. We're going to build a house that we hope will help reduce the accumulation of pain, and maybe even let me recover a little. Help me make sure I'm covering all the bases in house design accommodations.
posted by galadriel to home & garden (35 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I want to make this as fully accommodating as possible. Have I missed anything? (I've tried to read ADA accommodation regulations, incidentally, and I can not believe how insanely detailed they are without actually saying anything useful.)
I have injuries, neurological weirdness, joint pain, nerve pain, muscle pain, numbness. I can't walk straight and I pass out a lot. (I fortunately get a touch of warning just before a syncope episode--blacking out--so I can usually make it to somewhere safe to fall.) Bending over hurts my back AND may make me pass out. I can't extend my arms or lift them above my head for long. Most of the time I'm independently mobile (if wobbly). Infrequently, I can't walk independently and either need assistance or a wheelchair.
I'm currently in a house that was custom built for a couple of short people; we didn't realize how much of an effect that would have when we bought it. We've done what we can in small ways to make things easier on me, but to make this house really what I need we'd have to gut it down to the walls and start over. I'll shortly have the opportunity to custom build a house for ME (and my spouse, who has indicated that he doesn't care much about the way a house looks as long as it works out for me, and contains a few things he really wants). I'm 5'10" and he's 2" taller, so custom heights, etc for me should work well enough for him.
Construction companies are willing to work with me to make the house right, but since this isn't a typical disability--not that any are "typical," I think--they're letting me specify what I want in terms of accommodations.
This is the single largest undertaking of my life, and it's so important. If we can get it right, maybe we can reduce the amount of pain I am in all of the time. Every single thing I do hurts; just standing hurts, but then if I, say, go to chop a vegetable, I have to bend in a sort of hunch for a while. That makes the pain worse, and the extra pain causes extra fatigue, and I feel terrible for hours, sometimes days. Everything I do. All day long. It all hurts. The pain all accumulates.
So I really, really want to get this right. We need to minimize obstacles/walls I'll bump into, keep me from having to bend over, sit, reach above my head, or lift heavy things--unnecessarily, or for extended periods of time, or at all where possible.
This is what I have so far:
* Single story, full wheelchair access: from parking, through exterior doors, to throughout interior of house. Not just for the infrequent instances when I'm in a wheelchair, but also to reduce tripping, bumping into walls, and otherwise having the house interfere with my locomotion.
* No high thresholds, smooth low-grade ramping up to and over any necessary changes in height.
* Smooth flooring throughout: no carpet, no changes in height or high thresholds at changes in flooring type.
* 36" minimum all doors, wider if possible. Wide passthroughs (42" if possible), minimal hallways if any, room for safe maneuvering of wheelchair or unsteady person.
* Perhaps double pocket doors typically left open to any room we might want to close off occasionally (MBR, "den," etc).
* Room in master bedroom and bathroom to maneuver wheelchair if needed.
* Round corners on anything that does stick out, like the edges of a kitchen island.
One fully handicapped accessible bathroom: make it easier to sit and stand, make it less likely I'll pass out in the shower--
* Lots of room to maneuver
* Extra tall toilets
* Extra tall vanity (40-44")
* Large sinks with tall faucets
* Grab bars at toilet and in shower
* Roll-in shower (requires floor sloped for drainage) with fixed-height showerhead in convenient place for standing shower
* Shower seat (about 24"x16") with adjustable showerhead centered behind
* Curved shower curtain bar to make shower area as large as possible, and so that when shower curtain is pulled back, shower area is extra maneuvering room.
* No shelves that stick out--particularly in the shower, but also throughout the bathroom itself. (IE, no soap dish)
* Anything that does stick out (edge of vanity counter, etc) rounded off.
* A garden tub would be nice, if I can safely get in and out.
* Grab bars *everywhere*.
Kitchen accessibility requirements: keep me from having to hunch, bend down, reach up for longer than absolutely necessary--
* Lots of room to maneuver
* Extra tall counters (40-44"), sink, faucet (possibly in an island, leaving counters under wall cabinets at normal height)
* Large sink
* Investigate countertop dishwasher (drawer dishwasher)
* Side-by-side refrigerator
* Large pantry
* Roll out shelving (drawers) for below counter storage
* Hanging storage: from ceiling, from walls , to keep most everything at chest/shoulder height so I minimize reaching down or up
* Owner parking (ie, garage) opens directly to kitchen: smooth transition (no bumps, no high thresholds), for wheelchair or for hauling in groceries etc in wheeled cart.
* Easy to use interior, exterior and garage doors, car-height and people-sized (you only have to have one sticky or heavy-without-good-framing or hard-to-open door, when you're like me, to feel like you need to specify this).
* Electric outlets and light switches at easy-to-reach standing height (about 48", I think)
~ ~ ~
I do not know if, at some point in the future, I'll spend more time in a wheelchair than I do now. I *think* the right thing to do is to build the house for me at standing height, because sitting is the single hardest thing I do regularly. I currently spend as much time as possible either standing or lying down.
So, aside from "building everything at this height means that I won't be able to reach it if I'm eventually wheelchair-bound", am I missing anything, major or minor?
Side note: we have lever door handles in this house, and I *hate* them. The mechanism seems fragile; different parts wear out and the handle gets to where it's harder to use than a round doorknob. Are there other alternatives? If we have mostly pocket doors inside, that's one thing, but there are still exterior doors.
On that note, is there anything that can make a sliding glass door easy to open, and remain easy to open?