HOMES

CURRENT REGULATIONS

Homes could provide more than enough for a web site of their own. For this reason, some initial guidance only is given based on that available in 1999. Since then standards on affordable and lifetime homes have and are altering. British Standard 'BS:9266' and 'Building Regulations Part M Volume 1 - Dwellings' cover some of the subject. These and any other ensuing documentation should be used for detailed consideration of residential designs.

OUTSIDE, ENTERING and INSIDE THE BUILDING.

FURNITURE and FITTINGS.

LIFTS and STAIRS.

TOILETS and BATHROOMS.

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VISITABILITY and BEYOND

The 1999 issue of Part M of the Building Regulations brought in, for the first time, requirements for new homes to have a degree of acessibility. This particularly applies to the entrance level or principal level of a home. This is so that disabled people have more freedom to visit family and friends in their homes. While the requirements would not provide a fully wheelchair accessible home, they provide a basis which could extend the usefulness of the home if somebody in it became disabled. Often, it can be the basics of doors being too narrow that can make the home impossible for a wheelchair user to move around in

As the percentage of older people in the population increases, many of us may become grateful for the general improvement in accessibility of the housing stock.

The following comments are based on the Building Regulations but go further in suggesting items which, if considered at the design stage, can improve accessibility at little or no extra cost.

ACCESS FROM THE ROAD

When designing an estate or several homes, the provision of drop kerbs should be carefully considered, so that residents can cross streets to visit neighbours and go to adjoining areas.

The access from the street to the home should also be considered. The Building Regulations require wide enough paths to pass by cars parked on forecourts.

The access into the home should be level or ramped. Ramps are best at 1 in 20 but a maximum of 1 in 12 is permitted. A maximum of 1 in 15 is preferred. There should be resting spaces at maximum distances of 5m for gradients between 1 in 12 and 1 in 15 or at 10m for gradients between 1 in 15 and 1 in 20.

ACCESS INTO THE HOME

There should be a 1200mm long level space outside the swing of the entrance door, so that a wheelchair user can use both hands when opening or locking the door.

Care should be taken that the main entrance is orientated or protected from the prevailing winds and weather.

There should be a door bell and letter box at a suitable height for wheelchair users and shorter people, including newspaper deliverers. There should be clearly visible numbers or house name and a second set at the front gate if the ones on the house are at a distance from or obscured from the road.

EXTERNAL DOORS

The clear open width of external doors should be at least 775mm. Door handles, letter boxes, bell pushes and locks should be at a suitable height for wheelchair users, eg. 1000mm above the floor for handles. Locks, letter boxes and bell pushes should be between 900 and 1200mm.

INTERNAL DOORS

The clear opening width of internal doors should be at least 750mm. This should be increased to 800mm if the door cannot be approached head on. There should be at least 300mm between the leading edge of a door and an adjacent side wall, so that a wheelchair user has enough space to reach into the corner to get to the door handle.

TOILETS

Careful consideration of the detail of layout and fittings in even the smallest of toilet areas can often increase their accessibility. The objective is to maximise the use of the floor area by not using pedestal basins, keeping basin sizes small and keeping plumbing out of the potential wheelchair manouevring area.

BATHROOMS

The same principals for maximising manouevring space in a toilet can apply to a bathroom.

If a toilet is near a side wall, its centreline should be kept to a maximum of 500mm away from the wall, so that a horizontal grab rail could be added at a later date for transfer from a wheelchair or helping someone with a mobility impairment lower onto or rise up from the seat.

SOCKETS and SWITCHES

The Building Regulations require sockets and switches to be at a height of between 450mm and 1200mm from the floor level. This will help all users, including elderly people and people with poor vision.

Consideration should also be given to other controls and fittings being within this zone. Boilers, stop cocks, gas taps and fuse boxes all become more accessible at these heights.