Monday, April 23, 2012

Building an Accessible Home Day 1

We have searched for a couple of years for a home that would fit our family and the needs of our children. We quickly realized if someone builds an truly accessible home they are probably going to live out their life in that home. There are just not any on the market.   It is really frustrating when you go to look at homes on the market that advertise "handicap accessible".  I laugh every time I read that statement.  If they have one aspect of the home that is "accessible" they put that label on there. Yes, this home is handicap accessible but you have to WALK up three stairs to get into the home.  OR Yes, this home is handicap accessible because it has a ramp into the house but the doorways are narrow so then you are stuck in the entry way and cannot go anywhere.  My favorite are homes where ALL the bedrooms are on the second floor and they advertise "handicap accessible".  I guess the home is accessible if you don't plan to sleep or take a shower.

We decided the best way to meet the unique needs of our family would be to build a home. Custom homes are EXPENSIVE so we just could not go that route. However, we are so blessed to have found a home builder who was willing to work with our family to make our home as accessible as possible. I am pleased to announce that this weekend we were finally able to sign the final contract on our home with Ball Homes.   Here is a picture from today of us standing in front of the site where our future home will sit.

(it was a very winding day!)
I have decided I want to chronical the building of our home here on my blog. It will be great to have to look back on.  It will also be an opportunity to share with others what we learn through the process and give some tips along the way.   We are trying to build an accessible home without the prices that go with a custom/speciality home.   I do want to clarify that our home will not meet all ADA standards.  First, that is really expensive to build but also it is not likely our children with physical disabilities will be independent enough to need access to a completely ADA home. If by chance God provides a miracle then I will be more than excited to make those adjustments to our home.

Tip #1
Before you do anything make a list of your child's needs and then make a list of things you think would improve their quality of life. 

Here is our initial list:
1.  Bedrooms on the first floor
2.  Full bath on the first floor with accessible shower
3.  Doorways and hallways widened
4.  NO carpet (Jacob can not maneuver his walker on the carpet)
5.  No steps into the home

Tip #2
Take that list to a couple of builders and see if they are willing to help you meet your child's need.

We met with our builder a couple of times before we finally felt comfortable.  One of the most important aspects of this home for us was that it be an place for our children to flourish and grow, not a place of limitations.

Today we met with the "foundation guy".  Before they started building we wanted to talk to him about making the entry to our home as low as possible.  He was very knowledgeable and helpful.  They will not be able to make it zero entry(no steps) but he said they would do the best they can to have as few steps as possible.   With just a few steps we should be able to put a ramp there.  He even said he would brainstorm with the owner and see what solutions they could come up with.  THAT my friends is great customer service!!


  1. Thanks for sharing your home building journey. I'm completely hooked. What accommodations to meet ADA standards will you not be doing? I'm curious.

    I saw your post on the Hangzhou group introducing yourself. I took pictures last August but not of any of the little guys. It still amazes me what a small world it is, even in China. Hangzhou is a very nice SWI. Still an orphanage but well run.

    1. Hi Jennifer. I did not realize you had been to Hangzhou. I can't wait to travel. I hear it is beautiful there.

      We will not be making cabinets and sinks accessible. The kitchen will also not altered. It is recommended to raise the diswasher etc. for ease of use for a person in a wheelchair.