Access-A-Hut's Blog

December 26, 2009

Problems and solutions

access-a-hut The post below this one summarizes our journey so far. And now is a good time to think about the problems we’ve encountered–above and beyond the usual tiny home issues of planning space, getting zoning, and “dropping out” of the stuff culture to live with what we truly need–and truly cherish what we have. So here goes:

  • Lofts. Most tiny tiny houses have the bed as a loft. This makes sense, as you need more floor space and less head space to sleep. But we can’t get up to a loft. The house we ended up buying does have a nice, sturdy attic. And we do need heated storage for my macs (which play my oldest elit work). So we are cutting the attic in two, leaving part for storage and vaulting the ceiling so my tall tall love does not feel boxed in.

  • Bed space. That leaves the problem of where the beds go. Right now, it looks like they will take up about half the floor space. We are going to move in with temporary air beds (even though the contraption dumped me out last night and I couldn’t move). And then figure it out. But we have three potential floor plans (one with the beds in an L shape and two with the beds together).

  • Bathroom. We have a head start on this one–our current bathroom has no door because we had to take it off early on so I could get into it. So we are used to the idea of no bathroom door. We will have a full length shower curtain all the way around the bathroom. We are also knocking out the bathroom wall so we can have a roll in shower with a downward drain.

  • Doors. The current door is 32 inches–which gives me one inch on either side of my tiny wheelchair. (I am in a 15 inch chair–which is smaller than an adult’s, but bigger than a child’s). So we are going to solve two problems at once (maximizing light and flow through). We are knocking out 9 feeet of a 15 foot wall to give me a patio sliding glass door. This can have a lever on it that a dog can pull–so when I can’t do it, the future service dog can.

  • Oxygen compressor. The noise of that thing drives us batty from three rooms away. So we are going to build a cabinet with sound proofing andput it by MaJe’s bed. She can use the front of the cabinet to be a desk side bed (or a bed side eating tray) and the space above it we will turn into her shelves so she can reach her books and her stuff in bed.

  • Chairs and indoor access. Not sure yet. However, I am thinking: outdoor/lawn chair/wheelchair to go between the house and the car. Inside, a tiny wheeled office chair (if both of my legs are out, I can grab onto stuff and pull me along as there won’t be that much room). Then keep my regular chair in the car–parked in our gated compound. ‘

  • Litter box. Have absolutely no clue whatsoever. Maybe under the sink with a cat door?

    • 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.

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