Your home modification needs for achieving accessibility may be as simple as the use of grab bars or a shower seat; or you may have more complex requirements which involve a complete shower or bathtub replacement. We recommend discussing specific needs with a qualified contractor and using the following checklist to identify the appropriate products available:
This roll-in shower makes accommodating a wheelchair a breeze.
Specific bathroom items:
- Swing-out doors
- Non-slip floors
- Grab bars
- Reinforced walls, i.e., ¾” plywood backing throughout, for installation of grab bars
- 5” square clear area (required for most wheelchair users to make a 360⁰ turn). Since many wheelchair users can function in smaller areas, measure exact clear floor space if less than 5’.
- Chair-height racks/shelves/cabinets
- Lever handled faucets
- Lowered or tilted mirror
- Roll-under vanity top
- Hinged, fold-down seat in shower
- Roll-in shower with no curb
- Hand-held or adjustable shower head
- Bathtub with non-skid strips or surface
- Half-height caregiver doors
- Toilet seat 17” – 19” from floor, or wall mounted toilet
- Telephone outlet
- A ground level entrance clear of any major obstructions that would accept a ramp with a slope no greater than 1” height per 12” in length.
- At least one large bathroom with a 32” clear door opening and clear 5’ X 5’ floor turnaround space
- Wide doorways (32” – 36” clear width)
- Wide hallways (42” – 60”)
- Low-pile carpeting with thin padding or smooth surfaces
- Chair-height (48” – 54”) doorbell/mailbox
- Chair-height electrical controls/outlets (excluding the kitchen, generally controls are 6” lower and outlets are 6” higher than standard)
- Chair-height push button telephones/jacks
- Accessible, easily operated window controls, i.e., slide to side can be opened with one hand or less than 8 pounds of pressure, located 24” – 28” from floor
- Audio and visual smoke detectors
- Large windows, overhead lighting or several electrical outlets in each room (lighting is a big consideration for persons with low vision)
When engaging a contractor to make home modifications, consumers should check their references and look for specific home modification experience. A contractor who is certified in home modifications is the best selection for an accessibility solution.
UDS offers solutions that have been evaluated by the UDS team for use in home modifications. Visit the eStore at https://estore.udservices.org.
Sometimes changes in life, whether due to aging, dealing with a progressive disease, or an unfortunate accident, force people to make major adjustments in their lives and their homes. No matter the cause, there are modifications that need to be made to a home in order to facilitate daily living when these changes occur.
Home modification should begin with a home assessment. Look for a contractor certified in Universal Design who will come to your home and perform a needs assessment. The first visit should be free and is required before an estimate can be given to you for review or approval. Your contractor should be capable in assessing your complete living needs; from your garage to kitchen to bathroom. Ramps or lifts may also be needed, so an experienced home modification contractor will readily recognize your unique needs and will be key to the success of your project. The contractor will also determine if walls need to be moved, if electrical and plumbing changes are required and, in the case of a large project, whether building permits are needed. In addition, an experienced contractor will have a thorough knowledge of accessibility products.
Many experienced home modifications contractors use products from the United Disabilities Services eStore. The UDS Home Modifications Division uses these selections in the projects they install in the Southcentral PA area. The Home Modifications Team has vetted all of the products and recommends them for Universal Design projects. In addition, the UDS eStore has trained field technicians available for advice. They will also give design consultations and offer contractor discounts that are tax free. Products can be found at http://estore.udservices.org.
Find a contractor who’s willing to listen and provide a home modification tailored to your specific needs. Home accessibility is a specialized niche within the design and construction fields and while many reputable and skilled contractors are now entering the growing ‘aging in place’ market, they may not understand your physical and functional needs as well as they understand construction. It is vital that you educate them on your needs and play an active role in the design process.
Consider visiting the National Association of Home Builders at nahb.org and searching their CAPS Directory to find a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist in your area who is familiar with performing accessibility design or construction work, as well as being evaluated by an Occupational or Physical Therapist who can provide a report on functional considerations that must be taken into account when creating design solutions, such as an individual’s safest method of transfer. Oftentimes, combining the design and construction expertise of an experienced contractor with the disability-specific knowledge of a trusted medical professional can yield better individualized solutions.
And, don’t forget to reach out to the Accessibility Specialists at UDS Accessible Home Modifications for expert tips and guidance! UDS has been working directly with people with disabilities to support their independence since 1965 and we are happy to put our experience to work for you, from initial product selection though construction troubleshooting. Just contact us at 888-428-0240 or firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know how we can best serve you.
Looking for a professional to perform your accessibility modification? If you’re like many people, your home is your greatest asset and it’s important to have confidence in who you hire to perform work in it. Consider these points when selecting a contractor:
Ask around. Instead of going straight to the Yellow Pages, check with your friends, neighbors and family members for their recommendations. Or, head online to read reviews of licensed contractors and find out who has a positive reputation in your community. Use these contractors as a starting point and ask them to provide several references for you to contact. Ideally, these references should be individuals who have had work done by the contractor that is similar in scope to your future project.
Are they licensed, bonded and insured? Licensing regulations and requirements for contractors vary by state or locale, so research the laws in your area. Ask prospective contractors for their license numbers, then contact the agency overseeing licensing in your locale to verify their licenses are current and learn if complaints have been filed against them or they are facing any disciplinary action. Depending upon where you live, there may be a toll-free number or online database available to assist with this step.
Some states also require contractors to be “bonded,” meaning the contractor must purchase a surety bond to protect customers in the event the contractor does not meet financial obligations associated with a project, like paying subcontractors the amount they are due for their work or securing permits, or if they simply fail to complete the project properly. To protect yourself, learn the requirements where you live and make sure your contractor meets them. Additionally, request documentation on your contractor’s Workman’s Compensation and General Liability insurance and verify the policies are current.
Visit our eStore to shop the products available for home modifications.
Next time: Part 2 – Seeking competitive bids…
We’ve recently moved our eStore to a new eCommerce platform that will make your experience on the eStore more efficient and productive. You will be able to place orders much easier and, when you have registered for an account, you’ll be able to see your orders and also place reorders right from your account.
The ordering process has been simplified and you will see where you are each step of the way. In addition, estimating your shipping costs is earlier in the process so you’ll be able to know your estimated shipping costs before you get too far into the buying process.
You’ll find the forms for our catalog, signing up for the Newsletter, downloading our White Paper, and registering for a Contractor’s Account very simple and user friendly.
Explore the new eStore at the same URL: estore.udservices.org!
Contemporary Bathroom with Handicapped Access
UDS can help you with home modification products and equipment installation in the South Central PA region. Our process for construction services combines our technical knowledge and disability-specific expertise.
Individual needs assessment
Working together with you, we determine which livability needs can be met through home modifications, assistive technology and low-cost standardized solutions. Our accessibility counselors each have over 20 years’ direct experience with persons with disabilities, as well as extensive design expertise. Put their experience to work for you.
We inspect your home to identify possible zoning, code, condition and structural issues that will affect the design/installation process. We believe there should be no surprises.
Modification feasibility assessment
We assess the appropriateness of specific products and modifications, including your ability to safely utilize the products, cost estimates and the effect on your home’s resale value. Our goal is to maximize home accessibility, safety and independence, all while staying on budget.
This is where our experience in accessibility and construction assures the desired results. We supervise the entire construction/installation process, from start to finish. Our trade specialists are fully licensed, insured and experienced in installing all of the specialized equipment available on our e-store.
If you are interested in discussing your Home Modification project with us, please contact us.
60″ x 30″ – 5 Piece Shower Unit with 4″ Threshold
Selected for its walk-in design, ease of installation, structural base and integrated wood backing, this shower is also ideal for residential or commercial use. The design minimizes the chances of being installed in a non-accessible manner, having grab bars installed without proper backing. This compact shower is packaged for easy handling and designed for easy installation from the front.
Walk-In Shower ability enhancement features include:
• Easy entry for independent living
• Secure grab bar installation at any location with full wood backing on the entire shower
• Unique easy-step design with textured floor keeps the water in while reducing slips and falls
• Multiple shower head locations for easy reach and independence