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What are the Top 10 Wheelchair Renovations?

If you ever wondered what #renovations you could do to your #shorttermproperty to make it #wheelchair #accessible, we've got the top 10 list for you to consider.

We know #mobility independence is high on the list regarding quality-of-life factors. The United States Census reported there are more than 5.5 million wheelchair users in the USA. One popular sort-term rental booking platform touts it has over 70,000 searches for accessible rentals monthly, yet we found very few rental units on the site which could accommodate those who use wheelchairs.

That’s a lot of potential renters. Is your property ready to welcome them? If not, consider making these renovations.

Zero Threshold Entry

Zero threshold entry simply means the property can be accessed without stairs, instead using gentle slopes and minimal doorway thresholds. Thresholds should not exceed 1/4” in height for all door types including exterior sliding doors. For your renters, it means easy entry, convenient access, and a greatly reduced risk of injury. Such entries can be custom built, and sometimes you can make your property zero threshold by buying ready-made threshold ramps.

Wide Doorways

Both exterior and interior door widths should be 36” in order to accommodate those who use a wheelchair. Removing narrow interior doors and door frames and replacing them with pocket doors or sliding barn style doors will oftentimes provide the extra space needed to widen a doorway a few inches.

Non-Skid Flooring

Those who use wheelchairs benefit greatly by the use of non-skid flooring. Flooring should be stable, firm and slip resistant. There are many flooring products available with wood, bamboo, tile, and laminate being the most popular and durable. There are also many coating options for concrete floors. Carpeted floors can be difficult for those who use a wheelchair, so ideally should be avoided unless it is a low, tight weave with little or no padding underneath.

Open Floor Space/Hallways

In regard to furnishings, don’t overcrowd your space. Those who have mobility issues need 36” of clearance around furniture to maneuver. This includes hallways which should be a minimum of 48” wide. Removing hall tables, credenzas, standing coat racks, and other such furniture will create more space. Your judicial use and positioning of furniture will go a long way in creating a welcoming atmosphere for all renters.

Roll Under Sinks and Counters

Those who use a wheelchair cannot typically access standard sinks in cabinets or counters except to their side. Typical countertops and kitchen islands are positioned at a height of 36”. However, accessible counter work surfaces, islands and kitchen sinks should be 30” to 34” height, and not obstructed by base cabinets to allow for knee and toe clearance. Wheel-under tables, kitchen islands, and countertops require knee space of a minimum of 27" high and 8” to 11" deep. In some cases, you may be able to modify your existing base cabinetry by removing cabinet doors, shelves, lower frame and toe kick to achieve the knee space needed. Bathroom sinks should be wall mounted or pedestal style to allow access. Also, using single lever or even touch control faucets are a smart, low-cost design feature you should consider when renovating.

Comfort Level Toilet

While traditional toilets are 15 inches high, comfort height toilets have higher seats than traditional toilets, usually between 17 inches and 19 inches. A comfort height toilet makes it easier to transfer from a wheelchair, and the cost difference between a standard toilet and a comfort height toilet is minimal. Grab bars should be installed on the side wall closest to the toilet, and there should also be a grab bar placed on the wall behind the toilet. Grab bars are not expensive, and some designs fold back out of the way when not in use. While you’re replacing the toilet, you should also consider installing a toilet seat with a built-in bidet to assist those with who have dexterity issues.

Accessible Shower

People who use wheelchairs need bathing facilities which are accessible. Standard bathtubs and showers are not accessible. Ideally, showers should be a roll-in design using non-slip flooring and equipped with grab bars. Built-in, wall-mounted, or even portable shower seating is a necessary feature for many persons with disabilities. Additionally, installing a hand-held shower head is a welcome, low-cost renovation to most renters. They install just as simply as a normal shower head but allow users to direct water flow where needed. Hand-held shower heads are most effective when mounted on a vertical slide bar so both the height and the angle of the spray are adjustable. A lower position is ideal for users who need to sit when bathing. The slide bar should be mounted against the shower wall 48” - 52” above floor.

Accessible Appliances

Rental units with kitchens and laundry facilities should have accessible appliances. When selecting appliances, consideration should be given to installation height, up front controls, and one hand operation features as these are necessary for people who use wheelchairs. Microwave ovens at or below counter height, dishwasher drawers, wall ovens with a side-opening door, clothes washers and dryers placed on pedestals, are all examples of welcome features for travelers who use wheelchairs.

Adjustable/Elevated Bed

To ease the issue of transferring from a wheelchair to a bed, beds should be at an accessible height between 20 to 23 inches from the floor to the top of the mattress. Providing an adjustable bed platform should also be considered and would be a welcome accommodation by many who have difficulty getting in and out of bed, or who may need a modified sleeping position.

Adequate hard-surface parking

Adequate hard-surface parking is good for all travelers, but for persons who use wheelchairs, this is a necessary accommodation. Dirt, grass, and gravel are very difficult for those who use wheelchairs, so should be avoided as parking areas. Properly installed pavers or finished concrete are ideal, and space must be considered to accommodate vehicles with rear and side ramps. Van-accessible spaces should be 11 feet wide with an additional access aisle that is 5 feet wide.

You should consider making such accessibility renovations to your short-term rental. Chances are, your rental will then come up in the booking platform search. Remember, making your short-term rental accessible is not only good for those with a disability; it’s good business for you.

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