Designing an Accessible Tiny House: Making Tiny Living Work for Everyone
Tiny house living is often synonymous with narrow ladders and stairs, hard to access loft space, and physically-able inhabitants. It’s hard to imagine a tiny house vlog on youtube that doesn’t feature some aspect of the home that is too tight, too narrow, too high or too difficult to access for anyone but the home owners. So, how do you design an accessible tiny house that everyone can enjoy?
The magic happens in the design phase!
Designing an accessible tiny house
As a custom tiny home builder we build the house to fit your life (not the other way around). We begin our design process by really digging into your style, getting to know who you are, what your ‘must haves’ are, and what accessibility accommodations you’re looking for.
Maybe this is a tiny house for your in-laws who are getting older and don’t need as much space anymore and you’d like them to live close by? Perhaps this is a single-floor tiny house for someone with mobility aids who needs wide hallways to get around their home? This might even be a tiny house for a resident with visual impairments who needs soft edges on corners, large print on labels and textured cupboard doors to make finding things easier by touch? Whatever the accommodation, we’ll dig into the nitty gritty of your needs during this design process.
Once we’ve gotten to understand you, your style and your needs better, our designer will create 2D and 3D renders for you to go over. You’ll work with our designer to get the layout ‘just right’. This stage of the process usually takes about 4 weeks to allow for revisions, modifications and research. Once you’ve approved the layout, we meet with you to discuss materials and finishes (think easy grasp doorknobs, audio controlled light fixtures, non-slip flooring, etc). At this point you’ll receive your final quote for your build!
Accessible features to consider
So, what CAN be done to make a home more accessible? Here are a few options for making a home more accessible for it’s inhabitants:
Anyone who has every used a mobility device, whether that’s crutches, a walker, a wheelchair, or a scooter, knows that stairs are NOT an inclusive design. Ramp accessibility to the entrances/exits and when changing levels inside the home are basic design features that should greatly improve mobility within the space.
Wide Doors/Wide Hallways
Need to make sure you can get from room to room with your walker leading the way? No problem. In the design phase we can make sure to create wider door spaces and an open concept floor plan that will increase mobility around the home when using mobility devices. We would recommend opting for the wider trailer size (10.5 ft) if this is an important consideration for you. This will mean obtaining a special permit to move your tiny house on the road, but if you don’t plan on moving unless necessary, this is a one-time cost.
Is having a loft space just not a reasonable option for you? No problem. If you’re looking for a single-floor unit, we can help with that! We would recommend considering the longest trailer size (40’) which will give you a lot more layout options in your floor plan. Does a single-floor unit mean we’re not going to utilize any of that wasted overhead space? Of course not! Maybe you want a single storage loft available to act as your ‘attic’? Maybe you'd like some display shelves to show off your collections? Maybe you’re looking for other creative design solutions? (We recommend checking out our ‘Elevate’ build here for an idea of how we accommodated this clients dog’s mobility concerns!)
Did you know that statistically speaking the bathroom in your home is where most home accidents occur? We’re going to mitigate this in your home design by creating a large, open bathroom concept. Walk-in showers with seats and hand rails will help with bathing. Hand rails can be added in next to the toilet as well (or really, wherever you have a need for them)! We'll consider non-slip floor options and soft counter edges to reduce bathroom hazards!
There are so many accommodations that can be made in this key room of the home! From induction cooktops that aren’t hot to the touch and have auto-shutoffs, to cabinets being built all within arms reach, easy grip cupboard handles, to large-letter labels, and more. Need the countertops to be no higher than is accessible by wheelchair? Got it! How about a well-lit kitchen with verbal command controls? (“Hey Google, turn on the kettle”)
This list is by no means exhaustive and is really just meant to give you a basic idea of the ways in which we can custom design your tiny home to work for YOU. If you’re curious about features we can include for you, check out our other builds here or contact us here to discuss your tiny home needs.