Access-A-Hut's Blog

December 24, 2009

Summing up our discoveries about disability access to tiny homes

Filed under: Accessibility,Housing needs — by accessahut @ 9:30 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I have been trawling the web and blog-o-sphere and doing research since August of this year, when we decided we really would take the plunge and live in a tiny house. I am a damn good researcher–I do that for a living. I’ve found tons of stuff on how to build a house, and tons on universal access, and some on tiny houses, and a lot of folks telling us to consider assisted living. But I have not found one single page that combines the terms “tiny house” and “handicap access.”
No such info.

But Lloyd of Shelter Publications is writing a book on tiny houses. And I asked him to include materials on accessibility. And he is going to!! Huzzah!! What a lovely holiday present!

However, he wants our insights into this process. So here is a summary of our blog entries and troubles. Remember, we are not anywhere near the construction field, design field, or even disability field. We just want a home we can LIVE in. And I guess the other problem is that everyone with disabilities is different. We are planning for mobility issues, a mobility dog, oxygen, exhaustion/fatigue, and possible hospital-like intrusions into our happy home. Your (s)mileage may vary.

So… A guided tour. First–who we are and why we are doing this in the first place. (Whew! has it only been 4 months!)

Our thought process has evolved over this time:

  • Realizing that yes, we have problems and we really have to do this. (I can’t walk in a house, MaJe can’t go anywhere without tripping over oxygen, and we need to think out of the box for our long-term care.)
  • Wanting to build a customized trailer house for us. So we made lots of designs and plans and ended up with our design for a completely accessible 10 by 25 foot space—with a guest bedroom/loft
  • Doing a decision worksheet—we re-purposed an employment ADA sheet and applied it to the house. You could create something like this as a way to determine individual needs for a handicap accessible house.
  • Finding to our horror that you can not simply build a tiny house in a caretaker’s backyard in Denver because of the #$%^% code—even with proposed changes!
  • Trying to build and buy to comply with Denver’s zoning and finding out that we could not buy and build on a tiny lot in Denver because Land Costs!and the minimum house size in Denver is 600 sf and we wanted much less.
  • Finding an incredible property in Denver with three existing structures: a larger house (for our caretakers), a tiny house (for us) and a garage!!! (We are still thanking Providence, the Lady, and any other name you care to give the Diety.) But we can’t blog about it because—horrors! We might not get the loan! (Actually, that was the worst time in our entire lives—including cancer and other horrors. We knew it was a rare opportunity and buying now was a nightmare…)
  • Getting a contractor. We did a lot of planning that is not on our blog yet, and our latest missive details a bit of exactly what we are going to do to the house we purchased 2 weeks ago.

  • .

    As we could not find anyone doing this, and I felt betrayed by tiny houses that I couldn’t even get into, we got political:

  • Why Congress should get behind tiny houses
  • What about an entire accessible community? Given the choice between a 10 by 6 room in a nursing home or your own 10 by 15 home—which would YOU choose?
  • Someone out there should advocate for tiny homes for the disabled, and here is why!
  • Letter to disabled advocacy group—never heard back.

    • And then we found these resources and ideas for access. For our notes, we just copied wholesale—but did attribute. So let me apologize in advance for text-stealing and urge you to go to the original sources.


      1. I just ran into your blog, and I sympathize withe the challenges you are facing…in fact, I have written about some of the accessibility issues in small homes on several email lists, including the Small House Society list.

        Congratulations on finding a suitable place–or I presume it will be as the work is done!

        Best wishes on this Christmas in your new home, and may your dreams be fulfilled throughout the new year.

        Comment by David — December 25, 2009 @ 12:44 pm |Reply

        • Thanks! Where did you write? I’ve googled and data searched, but I did not run into your posts… Could you point me to those? Thanks!

          Comment by accessahut — December 25, 2009 @ 1:46 pm |Reply

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