Our Exciting Plans for Building a Wheelchair Accessible Home

My husband and I are working with our architect to get into the nitty gritty of our house plans! This is very exciting for us because it feels like the pandemic has put our house building on the back burner for far too long. We are really looking forward to building our dream home that will have all the accessibility features that we’ve ever wanted or needed! The planning process has been so much fun and we’ve learned a lot. Here are three things that we realized people don’t immediately think of when building an accessible home:

The Garage

We knew we wanted an attached garage because we live in snowy Rochester, New York. However, when it came to size, we hadn’t put much thought into it. We decided we wanted a three-car garage with an extra eight feet of space on top of that! This allows both my husband and I to park in the garage while having space to extend a van ramp. We plan to get a wheelchair accessible van when we have kids. This leaves extra space in the garage for storage! Storage is important for us because most people store things in the basement, but it’s not easy for us to bring stuff up from a basement. So, we’d rather have more space in the garage to keep things on the same level for easy access. 

The Pantry

We never thought about pantry access until our architect asked us about this! I always knew I wanted a big pantry. Our current pantry is overflowing so much that I cannot shut the doors but I had not thought about it any further than that. Once we started thinking about it, we realized we did not want a walk-in (or roll-in) pantry because we did not want to feel trapped in there when we tried to roll in or out. Instead, we opted for a wide but shallow pantry with barn doors! This allows us easy access without worrying about having enough turn space to get in and out. 

The Doors

I think any wheelchair user will tell you, the wider the better! It’s not just about the width of the door frame though. It’s also about the style of the door. My husband and I much prefer sliding doors over swinging doors because they’re easier to open, close, and navigate through as wheelchair users. Throughout our house plans, we’ve worked with our architect to determine where doors are truly needed. Plus, we’ve looked at whether we can eliminate swinging doors and instead opt for pocket doors, barn doors or other types of sliding doors. 

We are still in the schematic phase and are beginning our meetings with engineers and builders this month. I will be sure to give you all more updates on our progress in future blogs!

About Stephanie Woodward: Stephanie is a brand ambassador advisor for Quantum Rehab® and works as a disability rights activist. She has received many awards for helping communities become more accessible, as well as for her actions in fighting for the rights of disabled individuals as it relates to Medicaid and other support services. Click here to learn more about Stephanie.


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