Around the House: Universal Appeal

The Goldbergs can comfortably sit at the sink with the swing-away doors open. With doors closed, the home takes on a standard appearance.
Reprinted from PN July 2001
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Dr. Barry Goldberg was living the life he had always dreamed of in Lillooet, British Columbia, Canada. However, the doctor's stroke necessitated numerous lifestyle changes, including using a power wheelchair.

The attractive shower stall is designed to maximize access and safety.
The Goldbergs had owned a 4,000-square-foot home in Lillooet. They were accustomed to spacious rooms, generous hallways, and a big country kitchen. It wasn't long, however, before they realized they had to move to Vancouver so Barry could obtain necessary medical and rehab support. The larger city would also provide an environment conducive to a better quality of life.

After four years of living in an accessible rental suite, the Goldbergs decided they should get back into the real-estate market. The more they saw, the more claustrophobic condos seemed. It became apparent they had to find some innovative solutions. They decided to look for two condominium units they could convert into one to get the space they desired.

They bought two ground-floor units with 1,700-square-feet of usable space in a decade-old development in False Creek. The next step was to find solutions. Doug Gayton, an assistive technology practitioner, suggested they look into the User Friendly Home Program whose essence is to effectively alter home designs while maintaining a "normal" look.

Vancouver had a User Friendly Home at that time, and the Goldbergs visited the facility to see if it would work for them. Much to their delight, the home had the aesthetics they were looking for. After meeting with consultants, they looked for a builder to renovate their suites.

Leigh Grelish, of Trademark Homes, built the demonstration house the Goldbergs had seen and was a Certified User Friendly Builder.

Trademark had trained not only their own employees but also subcontractors and suppliers. This had a positive effect on the project because framers, electricians, plumbers, and subcontractors were aware of the needs and could effectively communicate to the designer, builder, and owners the common-sense building solutions that kept the project's costs under control.

Many adjustments added little to the project's cost: three-foot-wide doors, a cooktop with front controls, a raised dishwasher, reinforced bathroom walls for future grab bars, easily reached shower and tub controls, electrical outlets at outside doors for power door openers, bathroom sinks with rear drains to eliminate bumping into pipes, lever-style door handles, and more. These incorporations are good for everyonenot only people with disabilities but also able-bodied individuals who may require assistive devices as they age.

Submitted by Kim Vlchek, British Columbia Paraplegic Association rehabilitationcounselor. Contact: Leigh Grelish, (604) 590-1155, ext. 32 /


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Around the House: Universal Appeal


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