Mobility and Access: Planning and Building Your Forever Home

Published November 19, 2020.
Est. Reading: 5 minutes

Forever is a long time, so when it comes to planning and building your forever home, there’s lots to think about and not just in the immediate future. Customizing your home to your needs is important, and adjusting it so it works for you now, as well as in the future, is equally essential.

As we age, we naturally lose some of our mobility. While getting older is something you might not want to think about right now, it is important, particularly if you are planning your forever home. That said, your future self will thank you later on. There may come a time when simple tasks such as climbing the stairs or even going up steps in and out of our homes can become a huge task. Your home should be planned to factor in modifications such as the installation of lifts, shower bars, and wheelchair ramps as well as wider doorways and halls. If you or your partner ever end up in a wheelchair, it’s important that you can navigate around your home safely and easily. When there are larger doorways, halls, and rooms you will be able to move around your home with much less effort. So how do you make your home accessible?

Alongside working with Calgary custom home builders and a team of specialists, there are certain things that you can do to make mobility less of an issue.

Access to Your Home

Accessibility around your home is important. When it comes to accessing your home, you need to consider:

  • Parking – Will there be enough space on the driveway to safely exit the car if you have a mobility aid or wheelchair? For wheelchair users, there should be approximately 1200mm either side and behind the parking area. If the driveway is sloped it will be more difficult, so care will need to be taken, and adaptations made, to accommodate any ramps.
  • Surfaces – Paths and surfaces on the lead up to your home should be level or have a gentle slope. They should be easy to maintain and built from materials that do not attract algae or moss, which can become slippery when wet. Gravel drives or paths should be avoided because this can make the use of walking frames, sticks or wheelchairs much more difficult.
  • Steps – If there are steps leading up to your home, you might benefit from handrails or a grab rail on either side of your front door. Make sure that your builder installs the steps, so they are easy to manage and an even height and depth to make it easier and safer to use.

What To Consider in Each Room

Each room will present its own unique challenges in terms of mobility, with the kitchen and bathroom being the two rooms that will need the most attention.

  • Mobility in the Kitchen Kitchens must be designed so they accommodate people with mobility issues such as placing a small bistro table in the kitchen or using a fold-down table. Another useful change could be making the sink accessible from a seated position with adequate leg space underneath. The stove will also need some careful consideration too, with controls to the front of the appliance so the user doesn’t have to reach over. Cupboards that store heavy equipment and canned foods should be low to enable easier access.
  • Mobility in the Bathroom – Poorly designed bathrooms from a mobility perspective are not only problematic but potentially dangerous too. Walk-in showers or baths are great additions. You may even want your Calgary custom home builder to install a wet room.
  • Flooring – The floor in every room must be even and be careful about the placement of rugs which can cause tripping hazards. Low pile carpets where used are preferable.
  • Staircases and elevator – The staircase should be wide enough to accommodate a stairlift if one is needed. And considering an elevator for future use, and being able to access every storey of your home without leaving your wheelchair or walker behind.
  • Making Your Garden Accessible – The garden is often overlooked but it too can present problems from a mobility perspective if it is not properly designed. Make use of paving to increase accessibility and make sure that pathways are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and scooters as well as walking aids. If you have an exposed staircase outdoors, a stairlift may be an option. Outdoor stairlifts are waterproof and weatherproof, making them a much safer solution than trying to navigate up and down an outdoor staircase.

Other Items to Consider For Your Forever Home

With a little creativity, and a good idea of mobility issues, you can create a home that is not only a great fit for your requirements now, but long into the future. So, what other things besides those outlined above should you consider?

  • Automatic doors – Mobility can affect so many different things including the use of keys. If you lose your grip it can be very difficult to turn a key in a lock. This is where automatic, power-assisted doors can be particularly useful.
  • Intercom system – If you have mobility issues it may take you a while to get to the front door and that’s where you may benefit from an intercom system. It also increases safety too. Some models will have video links to the front door so you can see who is there before letting them in.
  • Ramps – For those using a wheelchair, ramps can be a great way to boost mobility. Threshold ramps can make moving through doorways much easier.
  • Radiators and fitted units – Make sure that the installation of radiators or fitted cupboards won’t make a corridor too narrow that can restrict access.
  • Storage space – Think about the storage in your home for equipment such as walking frames, wheelchairs and other mobility aids. You may also need charging points for wheelchairs if they are battery-powered or electrical. Additional space will also be needed for an extra chair to use as a backup if your main wheelchair breaks.
  • Accessible shelving – For storing mobility accessories such as chargers.

Planning your forever home involves so many different considerations. Choose your Calgary custom home builder with care and you do your research; you will be able to find an experienced contractor who you can explain your requirements to and with their expertise they will be able to develop a forever home that includes a variety of features to build a practical home that is not only suitable now but for many years to come.

Ready to design and build your forever home in Calgary? Contact Sunset Homes today!  We would love to learn more about your custom project and prepare a class 3 summary budget for you.

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Too Long Didn’t Read (TLDR)

There are many items you can add to forever home to customize it to your future needs. From an elevator to home automation to make your custom home fully age proof!

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