While having a single storey home can be the easiest way to facilitate wheelchair access, sometimes this is not possible due to the size or slope of the block. Luckily you can still create a wheelchair accessible house over multiple storeys. Here are some issues to contemplate as you plan a wheelchair accessible house.
Will all areas of the house need to be wheelchair accessible?
If the house is likely to be shared with some able bodied people you may not need to ensure wheelchair accessibly to each bedroom and bathroom. For example, if you are planning rooms that teenage grandchildren will stay in when they visit, you may be able to create a non-wheelchair accessible space on the top floor, with shared living spaces and wheelchair accessible bathrooms and bedrooms below. This includes not only the physical dimensions of the room, including have doorways and hallways that are wide enough for wheelchairs, but also the configurations of the rooms such as the height of light fittings and the height of windows throughout the rooms.
How generous can you make the size of the stairwells?
It can be very useful to extend the stairwells at the design stage to allow a chair lift to be installed on the stairs, as well the future provision of a full lift. This generally requires wider radius on the area between the flights of stairs. This is much easier to do at the design phase than to attempt to extend at a later point as it can require moving structural walls.
Is the slope of the block flat? How will you transition between the rooms?
If the block slope is not flat, it can be useful to have ramps between the rooms so that each room on the ground level can be flat. In order to make the house easy to move around in a wheelchair without needing to brake any point the wheelchair is stopped even temporarily. This approach requires some retaining walls to be inserted early on in the process to create split levels in the ground floor of the house. These are then separated by ramps in order to make the house fully accessible.
If you are looking for some advice on whether you can create a multi-storey wheelchair-accessible house design on your block you should talk to a specialist home designer. They can give you valuable advice on how to modify your home designs in order to create maximum accessibility for everyone in the household.