So You Want a More Accessible Bathroom

One of the biggest challenges faced by our aging population in the US is finding housing that will work long term as personal mobility and stability issues arise. While many want to Age in Place, their existing home is not suitable or adaptable for their changing needs.

And these needs aren’t just for homeowners—townhouses, condos, and apartments (though smaller in size) can be adapted as well. One popular option is the single level detached townhouse which usually feature wide hallways, 36” doors and grade level garage access (egress).

A bathroom is often the most challenging and expensive remodeling you can do in your home per square foot. The size and shape of the existing bathroom as well as the future needs of the homeowner determines whether space must be added to the bathroom from another area.

Key points for looking at a bathroom that would be easier to adapt:

  • A square bathroom with more space to maneuver
  • Adaptable space next to the bathroom, such as a walk-in or hall closet
  • No narrow doors (pocket or otherwise) that separates the bathroom into smaller rooms

We were asked to look at a townhouse for a customer whose mobility had significantly changed. The bathroom was very long and narrow with an even longer walk-in closet to the right. The toilet and shower were at the far end through a 28” pocket door. There was little room for the homeowner, let alone anyone needed to assist them. This bathroom would be expensive and a challenge to make workable.

One of the plumbing challenges of a single level townhome without a basement is the bathroom floor. To construct a roll-in shower the existing flooring must be removed as well as the concrete under it. Then new cement is poured to create a proper slope to the new drain location.

Here are some of the guidelines to create a bathroom that needs to be safe and accessible:

  • bathroom-35 foot turn
  • ing radius in the room with access to sink, shower and toilet
  • 4 feet clear transfer space in front of toilet or 3 feet clear side transfer space
  • Curb-less or low threshold shower with adjustable handheld shower on a bar
  • Roll-under, wall mount, or pedestal sink
  • Grab bars by toilet and in the shower
  • Non-slip floor surface – tile should be rated at .06 Coefficient of Friction (COF) wet and dry

With foresight and planning, your home can continue to work for you as challenges and situations change.