January 5 , 2007

As times change so do contractors’ designs
DRACUT - Two of the most highly used rooms in the home are the kitchen and the bathroom. Functioning in these rooms is often taken for granted, yet in recent years, as the baby boomer generation creeps into the senior bracket, more and more people are finding the need to redo their homes in order to accommodate changing lifestyles. Many people find themselves moving an elderly parent in and have the challenge of redesigning their home.

“In the last several years ABS has been involved in remodeling dozens of handicapped kitchens and bathrooms. When your loved ones are faced with a debilitating illness, the home they live in needs to be redesigned so they have accessibility,’’ said ABS Bob LaMothe.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) gives specific criteria to accessibility and design for those physically challenged.

“Sometimes these guidelines seem a little stringent; however they are very important for the ease of mobility for those people faced with this challenge,” Bob added.

One of the key things that homeowners must remember when designing for the disabled is to keep doorways wide enough for wheelchair accessibility. Thresholds of doorways should also be flush with the adjacent doorway, allowing for easy mobility from one room to the next.

In the kitchen, countertops and cabinets need to be 36 inches in height, and work areas, sink areas and areas that are accessed regularly should be lowered to accommodate a wheelchair.

“There is a lot of planning involved in the design and construction of handicapped accessible space,’’ Bob said. “ So it is very important to work with a reputable contractor that is experienced in this segment of remodeling.”

In addition, bathrooms designed for the physically impaired include handgrips, handicap accessible tubs, choosing impact resistant tub and shower enclosures, removing/redesigning or lowering bathroom vanities, adjusting toilet height and installing facets with lever handles or single-handles.

“Sometimes the project involves only minor changes based on individual needs.  However, it is still important to use a professional for your project.  An improperly installed handgrip can lead to a serious injury,” Bob said.

Other things to consider in the design or redesign of the kitchen and bathroom are lighting, flooring materials and door locks, which can be opened from the outside in the event of an emergency.

“It is important to use a contractor that can coordinate all aspects of your project,” he said.

In new designs, many homeowners are now looking toward kitchen and bathroom designs with the ADA guidelines in mind.

“A reputable contractor will be able to address your specific needs and provide you with the estimated cost of your project without any obligation,” Bob said.

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