Making Your Cottage Accessible
Almost 45% of Canadians over 65 have some kind of mobility limitation. But this shouldn’t affect your summer getaways at the cottage. Turning your cottage into a more accessible destination for those with disabilities can be daunting, in addition to the stress of encountering this issue in your life. There are several things you typically don’t think of, so that’s where we come in. Making a “visitable” cottage doesn’t mean you need to start over and rebuild your home or purchase a new one. With some small reno projects, you can keep the cottage you love and ensure all family members and friends can enjoy it.
Getting in and out the cottage will be a challenge for those with disabilities if there are any steps at all. Turn your stairs into a ramp or put a steel ramp on top of the steps.
Enjoying the beach shouldn’t be a hassle for anyone while visiting the cottage. If your property doesn’t have a flat beachfront, consider paving a 4-foot wide ramp down to the water or dock.
Ideally, an accessible home is a one-level layout. But if your cottage doesn’t follow this layout, there are a few different options for making the home accessible:
- Ramp for small sets of stairs
Narrow doorways may be troublesome for those who use a walker or a wheelchair. Widen the doorways to 32”-36” depending on the location. If the individual will need to turn upon entering the doorway, the width should be 36”. Standard doorknobs are difficult to open for those with disabilities whether the door opens inwards or outwards. Pocket doors and sliding doors are ideal for disabled individuals but if that’s not an option, swap your rotating door knobs and handles with lever style.
Standard counter height is 36”, but for those in wheelchairs, this may be too high to use for preparing food. 28” is easier for these individuals to reach and also ideal for those not in wheelchairs. Better yet? Talk to a builder about an adjustable counter! You may also need to take out 1-2 cupboards from your counters so that a wheelchair fits underneath.
Items tucked in the back of kitchen and bathroom cupboards will become difficult to reach for someone in a wheelchair. Fortunately, pull-down shelving systems exist that can be built into your existing kitchen/bathroom.
Making your bathtub or shower wheel-in friendly will require some slight modifications, depending on whether you’ve got a bathtub or stand-up shower. Your builder should have some insight into the best way to do this given your space.
Using these tips will allow you to adapt the cottage your friends and family love to be an enjoyable summer destination for all ages and abilities.