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Disabled Access And Facilities In New Houses


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7 replies to this topic

#1 stones

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Posted 03 April 2016 - 10:47 AM

We touch on this subject from time to time, with comments on both sides of the debate as to whether the rules and requirements are too prescriptive.

I've recently started a part time keep me busy job, driving a minibus collecting senior citizens for day care services. This has really opened my eyes in terms of disability, access and our housing stock. Whilst a fair number of the people I pick up are fully mobile, a number have restricted mobility or are in wheelchairs. Going into older houses, it is very clear how narrow doors, steps, and lack of manouvering space, impact on the ability of such people to live independently or indeed enjoy the freedom to move about easily. We all get old, and some of us will lose mobility. Is it really that unreasonable to make provision for this in new housing stock? I certainly used to think it was - I wanted to build what I wanted, not a house for someone else, but experience over the years, such as the benefits of level threshold access when we had kids in buggies, leads me to believe the regulations are the right way to go.

#2 tennentslager

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Posted 03 April 2016 - 10:51 AM

Yep and good point about buggies for kids.
Design it in early and at every refurbishment

#3 jsharris

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Posted 03 April 2016 - 11:51 AM

My view is that we should insist that houses are designed so that they can be easily adapted for disabled living, if needed, not force all houses to have obvious disabled living features as standard.

It's not really any hardship to have wider doorways, level thresholds and stair arrangements that can be adapted to take a stair lift if needed, in my view. I certainly thought about these things when designing our house as I anticipate it will be our last home and I've experience of my dad being a wheelchair user for most of the time I knew him.

All our doors are wide (33", or ~838mm), all our internal door thresholds are flush and we have a ramp around to the back door that's wheel chair friendly and has level spaces to allow a wheelchair to turn ready to enter the back door, which only has a very low threshold. Similarly, I made sure we had a straight staircase, with extra room at the bottom to allow a stair lift to fit, and included additional hard points into the wall alongside the stairs for a stair lift rail to be fitted, if needed. All circulation areas are wide, to allow easy wheelchair manoeuvring (I think some forget that manual chair users skin their knuckles in narrow spaces), with plenty of turning room by doors.

None of this (except the access to the back door and the downstairs WC) was required by the building regs, but some things aimed at wheelchair users are, like the position of light switches and wall sockets. I could have easily designed a building regs compliant house where the majority of the wheelchair accessible switches and sockets couldn't have been accessed by a wheel chair use for other reasons, like door or passage way width, which seems a bit daft to me.

#4 MarkH

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Posted 03 April 2016 - 01:08 PM

I'd fully support the provision of generous funding to help disabled people adapt a house to their needs but beyond very minimal provision for future adaption I resent having these features imposed on my building.

Mr Harris voluntary adaptions for his own possible future needs are an undoubtedly sensible choice but I'd appreciate the option to choose not to make these provisions.

#5 stones

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Posted 03 April 2016 - 01:15 PM

That had certainly been my position in the past, but seeing the difference even small changes make, I'm happy to accept them. I do agree with Jeremy that designing houses to ensure that adaptations can easily be made is the best way to go, rather than forcing everyone to install disabled features as standard.

#6 ProDave

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Posted 03 April 2016 - 01:16 PM

Some things are good and some are very restrictive. A lot of it is also down to the interpretation of your own building control officer. For instance he has told me he won't accept the ramped access being to the back door (which would be easier) and insists it has to be to the front door.

The circulation space in a kitchen was another of my gripes, but that was solved by discussion it with my BC officer and understanding his interpretation of the rules and where this circulation space can go.

Stairs is my big gripe. It doesn't affect our new house, but our present one has stairs that come down into the hall with a banister on both sides and is a bit of a wow factor in the entrance. That would no longer be allowed as one side of the stair has to be against a wall for stairlift provision.

New houses here don't need to have a dowsnatirs shower or bath, they just have to have some space where one can easily be created if necessary.

Edited by ProDave, 03 April 2016 - 01:18 PM.


#7 mafaldina

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Posted 03 April 2016 - 01:35 PM

View PostProDave, on 03 April 2016 - 01:16 PM, said:

Some things are good and some are very restrictive. A lot of it is also down to the interpretation of your own building control officer. For instance he has told me he won't accept the ramped access being to the back door (which would be easier) and insists it has to be to the front door.

The circulation space in a kitchen was another of my gripes, but that was solved by discussion it with my BC officer and understanding his interpretation of the rules and where this circulation space can go.

Stairs is my big gripe. It doesn't affect our new house, but our present one has stairs that come down into the hall with a banister on both sides and is a bit of a wow factor in the entrance. That would no longer be allowed as one side of the stair has to be against a wall for stairlift provision.

New houses here don't need to have a dowsnatirs shower or bath, they just have to have some space where one can easily be created if necessary.

You can get this truly 'unobtrusive!' version.Attached File  stairlift.tiff   1.48MB   24 downloads

#8 ProDave

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Posted 03 April 2016 - 01:41 PM

View Postmafaldina, on 03 April 2016 - 01:35 PM, said:

You can get this truly 'unobtrusive!' version.Attachment stairlift.tiff
It would certainly be worthy trying to convince BC about that option if you wanted a posh staircase.