New Beginning Relocation Service LLC is an advocate of Visitable Homes and Visitable Communities

Visitable Homes Visitable Communities

What Is Visitability?

Most homes have steps at every entrance, and have bathroom doors that are narrower than other interior passage doors. Visitable homes have:

· One entrance with zero steps

· 32 inches clear passage through all interior doors, including bathrooms

· At least a half bath (preferably a full bath) on the main floor

Visitable homes are deliberately designed with basic access by residents who do NOT have disabilities. Visitability is a campaign for these features to become standard in virtually all new homes, through legislation, voluntary implementation, market forces and strong advocacy from interested individuals.

What Are The Benefits?

· Residents in the community can welcome guests who use wheelchairs or walkers, or have some other mobility impairment such as stiffness, weakness or poor balance. When Visitability is in place, mobility-limited people are not isolated by architecture.

· If a family member develops a disability though illness, accident or aging, the person and their family are more likely to be able to remain in their existing home, rather than having to do major, expensive renovation—or move to another house, or a nursing home.

· All residents find it easier to bring in baby strollers, grocery carts, heavy furniture, etc.

· Visitable homes enhance sale and resale in an era where the senior demographic is growing rapidly. Buyers are attracted to homes that welcome their aging parents and provide easy-use convenience for themselves.

· Visitability features cost little up front — unlike the much higher after-the-fact cost of retrofitting features.

Zero-step entrances on new homes are nearly always easy to construct, on flat or hilly terrain. The entrance can be at the front, side or back, wherever is most feasible for the topography. A zero-step entrance can usually be incorporated without a “ramp” by grading so that the sidewalk meets a porch. For the 40% of homes built on a concrete slab, the zero-step entrance is typically extremely easy. For homes with basements or crawl spaces, solutions such as siting the home properly on the lot, using a porch as a bridge to the sidewalk, lowering the first-floor rim-joist, creative use of small retaining walls, constructing the zero-step entrance from the garage and other methods provide low-cost zero-step entries.

· Visitability features make fiscal sense for society as a whole. For instance, as of 2004, the average cost for one year of nursing home care exceeds $50,000 per person — 62% of which is paid with public dollars.

More on Doors

All interior passage doors need to be a minimum of 2'10", which leaves 32" clear space when the door is open at 90 degrees. Although 2’10” doors are not yet commonly stocked in home improvement stores, they are readily available from the door companies where professional builders buy their supplies. 3'0" doors are excellent where space permits. Pocket (sliding) doors are another way to obtain 32 inches of clear passage space. Special attention needs to be paid to the bathroom door because it is typically smaller than other doors on house plans.

Usually a builder need not employ an architect to modify an existing house plan to accept wider doors; usually the existing plan already offers enough wall space for wider doors and the wider doors can be indicated by simply marking the plan

It's not essential (although it can be helpful) to have a large turning diameter inside a residential bathroom; in a small bathroom, the wheelchair user can roll in forward and roll out backward. But it is essential to have at least a 32" clear path to the commode. The bathroom door can be hinged to swing out rather than in to give a person using a wheelchair enough room to shut the door when inside the room.

Do any developments already incorporate Visitability?

Yes. For more information, visit the Concrete Change website at

GE Financial Survey, 2003,

“Medicaid and Long-term Care,” Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, May 2004