In: Construction in Avon, Ohio

The top three home modifications to undertake first

Aging in place, the ability to stay in your own home as you age, is the choice of more than 80 percent of older adults. While there are several renovations that as a whole would make the process ideal, three basic modifications should be first considered so you have home and room access:  installing a ramp and widening doorways, remodeling your bathroom, and adapting your kitchen.

If you or your loved ones are considering how aging in place in Avon Lake and access to the residence may be accomplished, here are some matters to consider.

A wheelchair ramp of wood blends in well with your home’s stucco design.

Ramp and door access

Most houses have foundations that hold the house above ground, requiring three or more steps until the main level is reached. Other houses are built on a slab, which does not have steps. This is a major consideration—wheelchair access to a slab house may only require widening the doorway to the preferred 36-inch width, but access to a home with steps will require both a wider doorway and a ramp.

When building a ramp, first consider the configuration and the material with a licensed, professional contractor. There are a number of federal ADA specifications to be followed; for instance, a ramp cannot rise more than 36 inches for every 30 feet. After 30 feet, the ramp must take a turn or have a rest platform. These requirements help maintain the safety of the person using the ramp.

Aluminum is a durable material for a wheelchair ramp.

Wood, aluminum and concrete are the most common materials used for ramps. Wood may be less expensive, but requires more maintenance than the others, including regular painting or sealing and roofing material, for example, to avoid slipperiness. Aluminum and concrete are durable and require no maintenance.

Remodel/modify the bathroom

Bathrooms that have not been modified or remodeled pose a number of hazards for those in wheelchairs. That is why it is important to create easy access to the shower and sink as well as the bathroom itself.

These points also help maintain the independence and privacy for the wheelchair user.

A complete bathroom renovation for aging in place residents includes grab bars.

As with the entrance to the house, the bathroom doorway should be 36 inches wide for wheelchair access, especially if the bathroom is located off a small hallway, as is common.

The additional doorway width will provide turning room for the wheelchair.

If the hallway leads straight to the bathroom, a 32-inch doorway may suffice.

A curb-less shower offers easy access.

A no-step shower is a major requirement for those in wheelchairs. This would involve removing an existing tub or shower. A 3-by-5 foot minimum of space is needed for a curb-less shower. Grab bars and a shower seat are other items to add.

All bathroom faucets and light switches should be accessible from a wheelchair. The bathroom sink should be wheelchair-accessible, and this may involve removing a vanity under the current sink.

Finally, the toilet needs to be raised by adding a riser (or replaced by a chair-height model) and grab bars for support should be installed.

Modifying the kitchen

With kitchen modifications, the basic plan is to allow enough space for a wheelchair to turn around and to ensure that appliances and workspace are low enough for easy access.

Wheelchairs need access under counters.

Countertops are usually 36 inches in height and should be lowered to 30 inches. Cabinets below the countertops may be removed to allow wheelchair access and compact ones installed. Pull-out cutting boards can be added, if needed.

Electrical outlets and switches for items such as lighting, exhaust fans, and garbage disposals need to be placed in lower locations as well as a microwave oven. A dishwasher can be raised several inches to give easier access for placing and removing items.

By first considering these three modifications in your home or the home of your loved one, you will begin the process of helping you or your loved one remain independent and more comfortable in the home.

A kitchen oven at counter height offers comfortable access.

There are many options available to make the home wheelchair accessible yet stylish and attractive as part of your aging in place in Avon Lake project. The professionals at Sciarappa Construction will help in your plans and complete a job to your total satisfaction. Start your project by contacting us at (440) 930-2882 or by email at Located at 32961 Oak Pkwy., Avon Lake, OH 44012, our general contracting crew has more than 40 years of combined experience in remodeling homes within the Avon, Avon Lake, and Greater Cleveland, Ohio areas. We are a family-owned and operated full-service construction company.

Sciarappa Construction offers services including new home construction, subdivision, development, apartment, and existing home rehab, plus general contracting and construction management.