Remodeling for Accessibility

A technician uses ground-penetrating radar to map the position of electrical conduits and other obstructions in the reinforced slab floor.

Unlike a wheeled scanner, his handheld scanner can’t map results or plot exact depths, but it can get closer to walls.

Once the floor was mapped, plumbers drilled holes in the slab to move supply and DWV lines to their new locations.

With no structural loads to worry about, the new partition walls were quickly framed with steel studs.

Plenty of blocking was needed to easily position and install grab bars, a fold-down shower seat, and other accessories.

The original shower base had a 3-inch-high curb, common in standard construction but a major obstacle to a wheelchair.

After removing it, the author lowered the concrete slab in the shower area by an inch, smoothed and sloped the surface toward the new drain, and waterproofed the entire bathroom floor with a liquid waterproofing membrane.

All of the doorways needed to be widened to a full 3/0 to accommodate a wheelchair.

he location of an existing drain made it impossible to provide a full 5-foot clear floor space at the entry inside the apartment.

However, HUD rules permit the clearance to be outside the apartment in the hallway.

The author ordered face-frame and door assemblies sized to fit vanity cabinets and in a finish that matched the kitchen cabinets.

The face frames and doors were applied to stock boxes that had been modified to fit under a 34-inch-high countertop.

The sink countertop is supported by steel angle at the wall and bar stock at the front.

The cabinets underneath can be quickly removed for wheelchair access without interfering with the countertop or plumbing.

The barrier-free shower is equipped with a flexible rubber dam that helps contain water without inhibiting wheelchair access; note the second floor drain under the sink.

Like the shower, the high-rise toilet is equipped with grab bars securely fastened to wood blocking.

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