According to data from the National Institute of Statistics, there are almost four million people with some physical, mental or sensory disability who need adaptations in their home, and it is estimated that in one of every five Spanish households there is at least one person with problems of mobility.
This, together with the aging of the population, makes more and more people consider adapting their home or investing in accessible housing for the disabled for the future.
On the other hand, the pandemic caused by COVID-19 has been an opportunity to promote certain accessibility criteria not only in newly built homes, but also when making a reform. The objective, in all cases, is to improve the safety and comfort of all the people who live in the house, regardless of their age and abilities.
Accessibility in current homes
In recent years, accessibility has been applied as a basic criterion to all types of constructions, as established by the regulations. This affects public buildings, services such as hotels and also residential areas, especially their entrances and common areas such as patios, stairs, landings or garages.
However, in properties that are more than 25 years old, this is not usually the case. For this reason, many people find it necessary, at a certain time, to reform their home to make it more accessible.
In the case of the common areas of a building or urbanization, any neighbor owner over 70 years of age or with a disability can request an improvement in their level of accessibility, which must be approved by a majority according to the Horizontal Property Law. The amount of these reforms must be paid by all residents, although there is public aid for this purpose.
In the case of the adaptation of private homes, the works and their cost will be borne exclusively by the owner.
For some years, companies in the real estate sector, aware of this situation, have begun to give priority to many adapted and accessible flats, both for sale and for rent. In fact, accessible homes for the disabled or with adapted common areas are in increasing demand on real estate portals such as Sky Marketing.
What is the difference between accessible housing and adaptive housing?
In a generic way, the concepts accessible housing and adaptable housing are used synonymously. With both, those homes that are free of barriers in their environment are defined and that allow the elderly, with reduced mobility or with some physical or sensory disability to develop their usual routines in an autonomous, independent and safe way.
From a more specific point of view, an accessible home is one that has been designed and projected taking into account universal accessibility criteria, while an adapted or adaptable home is one in which changes or reforms have been made to improve accessibility.
Accessible housing requirements
To be considered affordable, a home must meet some basic criteria.
The blocks of flats and residential buildings must have accesses that facilitate the transit of people with mobility problems. These buildings must have solutions such as ramps, elevators or stair lifts so that all people who want to access their interior can do so without problems. In addition, the entrance doors must have a minimum width of 80 centimeters to guarantee the entry of people in wheelchairs. In corridors, the width should be 90 cm. to be able to be walked comfortably.
Accessible homes for the disabled maintain these same dimensions with respect to doors and corridors.
It is recommended to install wall grabbers in hallways, bedrooms, and bathrooms. The handholds help people with mobility problems to keep their balance, and should be placed at an adequate distance from each other to avoid falls.
In the case of doors, it is recommended that they always be sliding, since they are more comfortable to open or close.
The hall, bathroom and kitchen of an accessible home must be designed taking into account wheelchair users, so their dimensions must have a free circle of at least 120 cm. in diameter in order to guarantee maneuvers and turns.
Regarding the floors, they must be non-slip and not have irregularities, unevenness or obstacles to reduce the risk of accidents and falls.
When planning the reform of a home for the disabled, the most important thing is to be clear about what an accessible bathroom looks like, since this is one of the most dangerous parts of the house.
According to current legislation, users must access the sink from the front and the shower from the side. The floor must be non-slip, both dry and wet, and the sink must not have a pedestal. The recommended installation height is 80 cm. high from the ground, with a free space of 65 cm. to allow wheelchair access. The shower must have support and support bars, in addition to having a shower seat or bench inside.
Regarding the kitchen, the worktop and the sink must not exceed 85 cm. high. The sink and kitchen should have a turning zone in front of them, and cabinets should be at the bottom of the counter as much as possible.
Finally, the outlets throughout the house need to be at a height that is comfortable for disabled people.
In accessible housing for the hearing impaired, other aids may be set up, such as the entrance bell being connected to the home lighting system.
Keys for the reform of a house for the disabled
In addition to all of the above, when we plan the reform of a home for the disabled or when we want to buy or rent an accessible house, we must analyze many aspects. The most important are:
- The design of the house has to facilitate the mobility of the user, its maneuverability in the domestic environment and its approach operations to reach all the elements of the house.
- The possibility of installing systems that favor the communication of people with hearing disabilities should always be studied.
- It is necessary to assess the specific furniture that each user needs according to their disabilities (toilets, electrical appliances, kitchen furniture, beds, tables, armchairs, etc.)
- It is essential that all the command, control and drive mechanisms of the home are accessible. These mechanisms include environmental control devices, home automation systems, switches, pushbuttons or controls for air conditioning emitters. All accessories that allow the functionality of doors, windows, blinds, toilets or taps, must also be accessible.
- Accessible homes for the disabled will have high-quality finishes on the floors that prevent slipping and accidents. This is especially important in kitchens or bathrooms.
- When adapting a home, it is important to take into account lighting, both natural and artificial. This must be adapted to the activities to be carried out in each area of the house.
Homes adapted for the disabled are increasingly valued, both for sale and for rent, so they are a good real estate investment.
Are you looking for an accessible home in your city? Contact Tajarat properties. We are your online real estate agency and we work with properties from all over Spain.