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5 tips for designing a home for persons with disabilities


Last updated 1/15/2020 at 5:10pm

FALLBROOK – Designing a home takes on a new meaning when someone in the family has special needs. Function has to be an important consideration to make it easy for every family member. So, we must ensure that the house provides the support they need to lead a safe, fuss-free and happy life.

Here are things to keep in mind when designing a home for our loved ones with physical disabilities:


One should easily enter, exit, and move around rooms in the house especially for those with wheelchairs and walkers. A 36”-42” door frame should do the trick. That’s why French doors are a popular option. Depending on the home, widening doors may require extensive remodeling. Before removing any door frame completely, consider installing either wide throw hinges or swing clear hinges, both of which can help add space to the doorway.

It is also a good idea to have all handles and locks placed at between 3 and 4 feet from the floor for easier reach, and switching out traditional door knobs for lever-handle pulls.


When looking at alternatives to stairs for people with mobility issues, ramps and lifts are the definite go-tos. Ramps are usually less expensive, more reliable, and less prone to maintenance or electrical repairs. If on a stiff budget, or only have a small rise to navigate, a portable ramp will do.

Disability Friendly Flooring

Find a material that is durable, smooth, relatively non-porous, and firm that wheelchairs can easily roll on, something that will not be likely to cause slips, trips or falls, and a surface that is easy to clean.

The least expensive and most durable materials are usually either vinyl or laminate flooring. Wood can work as well, but is generally more expensive, and also difficult to maintain and less resistant to wear. Harder floorings are good for those with vision impairment because they will be better able to hear noises in the home.

In the Living Room

Having sturdy furniture is essential, especially those with arms that can be used for assistance when getting up or sitting down. Choose wood over glass-top tables if people will need to lean on the table.


Opt for a handheld showerhead that can be manipulated with one hand. Have plenty of room to roll the shower chair in. Make the floor less slippery by using smaller tiles with wider strips of grout in-between them.

Grab bars are essential. The bars must be able to support 250 lbs. of pressure and be attached securely to a stud.

An elevated toilet seat is also recommended. Depending on the household requirements either portable or permanent attachments are available.


Make sure everything has the controls on the front, as long as they have child-proof safety locks if there are children around. The ideal height of kitchen cabinets is 30 inches and the minimum clearance should be 40 inches for storing dishes and pans. Pull out drawers make it easier for anyone to load and unload the dishwasher.

Following these tips when preparing a home for a person with disabilities will help to assure that the environment is safe, efficient, and has good vibes for all.

This article first appeared on Broadpoint Properties' website,

Submitted by Elisabeth Hartig Lentulo, broker associate, who can be reached at (760) 532-1057, [email protected] or CalBRE #01904564


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