Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Building an Accessible Home




Its been some time since my last bunch of blog entries and plenty has gone on since then.  I hope you have been enjoying my sewing tutorials and history of AAC progress! In the past year (where did 2016 go?) we have been realising that our current house doesn't work for a now 9 year old son in a wheelchair.  So what to do?  Well we shopped around for bigger houses, with large sections, or a purpose built house with enough open plan features that we could modify it to work for us.  In the end we brought a section and have now set about building an accessible home for us all.  Its been a long process and its only just starting.

Our current house in Springston on a cold morning

So our intention is to post blog updates on our progress, so if you too are thinking of building an accessible home you can see our thought processes and how we went about building our place.

Our original rough design done with Room Sketcher software

So what are we building?

Well we opted for a smaller section, its going to be hard leaving behind our semi-rural 1/2 acre in a rural town to move to the suburbs, but we have chosen to do that so we are closer to his schools, the hydrotherapy pool and so we have a property we can manage.  The reality is that as our son gets bigger he gets heavier and there is only so much energy in a day you can expend without being physically exhausted.  So managing a large garden isn't one I could keep up not without employing a full time carer for our son.  

One of the many variations - this one we almost went with

Open plan rocks!

Yes thats what we discovered, turning circles for wheelchairs, negotiating hallways, doorways and right angles were becoming a mission.  Inside our house now we were running out of space, in varying places and varying times we have had LOTS of equipment cluttering up the place.  Walkers, standing frames, wheelchair, buggy, bikes, tables, toys, bathing chairs you name it.  We even had a hoist but returned it as there really wasn't room for it.  We have separate rooms for everything with a long hallway linking everything.  Its been Ok but now our sons wheelchair is getting bigger along with him.  One bonus is that hes started to walk with his anterior walker but still needs full assistance to do cornering or moving on carpet.  So we have decided the main living area needs to be simple, open plan and have large turning circles.  
Our son also has separation anxiety when we aren't within his view most of the time, some days hes totally Ok in a room on his own as long as he knows your close. But other days hes prone to being very distressed if you're not within view.  So open plan it is.



Our inspirations

What was important?

Well that was what we realised we had to get to so that we didn't break the budget.  We realised we needed to stay in our current place until the very last minute and servicing a large mortgage was going to be hard work.  So there wasn't going to be the option of selling our place, moving somewhere and renting while the house was built, or even staying in a caravan on the land.  Nope, we had to stick to a modest budget and tighten the finances.  So inevitably our 'wish list' had to whittle down to what was REALLY important?
  • Open plan living, dining and kitchen
  • Wide doorways, hallways and entrance
  • No real right angle turns, good flow between spaces
  • Decent sized bedrooms, especially for our son
  • A wetroom bathroom fully accessible from our sons room 
  • Good hard landscaping outside for his wheelchair
  • Level entry decks and ramps so he could go outside easily
  • Large garage to accommodate a van with hoist (able to be opened with garage door closed)
  • A private space for our son as he gets older
  • A private space for us and our own bathroom
  • A workspace for myself so I can continue my Special Needs Clothing business from home
A very early design of the property - this is the landscaping plan,
ultimately this was just too expensive but we would have loved it!

What ended up staying on the list?

Most of it actually, my workspace is now taking the spare bedroom and visitors may end up sleeping in the lounge LOL.  Unfortunately we just couldn't afford the 4th bedroom so we could have a storage space for equipment and visitors if they came to stay.  I needed my workshop so again the 3rd bedroom will be primarily my workshop but with an option of a bed in there if we have people to stay over.  We also had to opt for a concrete patio out from our sons room and we will have to provide the ramping ourselves into his room.  As I have threshold ramps already I didn't think that would be too hard.  We have a fully removable ramp fully funded for our current house and can approach the fund-holders about relocating that to the new house if necessary.  


Time to start the house!

So that's where we're at now...the designing of the house has been done, the money has changed hands, and we now start the designing of the fitout, choose the flooring, the colours, the bathroom, then await the foundations being built.
Right now I am going to meetings with suppliers confirming things and soon I will be posting more blog updates of progress so keep checking in and seeing how we're going.  I will endeavour to explain our reasoning for varying features as the house build starts in earnest.



Here is the final elevation and plans - it all looks a bit different in black and white.  

2 comments:

  1. Looks like a lot of thought has gone into this. I would recommend lifting the bath to allow a portable hoist's legs to fit underneath to enable a person to be hoisted in - if you don't need that feature yet just put a cover over the front and you won't even know it's there.

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    1. Hi and thanks! Our son has good standing transfer skills so we're hoping he won't need a hoist again and we're going to be working on him getting into and out of the bath with help, so probably need to get a transfer seat or stick to the shower. Hubby will probably end up with the bath LOL

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