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Jan 15

Raise the Bridge or Lower the River?

Posted by C. Mason Hearn in value, select contractor, renovation, remodeling, floors, design, contractors, Accessibility


We are interviewing contractors for a remodel to our home which we want to make handicap accessible.   Our living room is two steps up from the rest of the house.  Is it possible to have it lowered?



Dear Linda:

 Thank you for your question.  The EASY answer is always YES!  I believe that anyone can do anything, given enough time, money and expertise.  I assume your question really means "is this reasonably achievable?"

The answer to the latter interpretation of your inquiry, really depends on how your home is constructed - particularly the area in question.  It is likely that (most efficiently) the raised area of floor and underlying structure would want to be removed in its entirety and re-constructed at the level you desire. 

Certainly, one wants to consider the space beneath - is there a basement that will be affected, or a crawl space with adequate clearances?  Foundations and structural support are likely concerns.  There may also be issues of relocating any mechanical, plumbing and electrical which may be within that structure.

An experienced renovation contractor can give you a good idea of what might be involved to make your floor levels more accessible, or whether lowering the floor is going to be very difficult and costly.  Ultimately, you or your contractor will want to hire an architect and/or engineer to create a plan and details for how to accomplish this work.

A creative-thinking remodeler should also consider primarily the problem to be resolved - in your case, resolution of accessibility (rather than just focusing on "what does it take to lower the living room?").  For instance, might the installation of ramps or a lift be more feasibly installed to access this space?  You might look for a contractor and/or architect that have special qualifications in Universal Design, an Aging-in-Place specialist, or other certifications, education or experience in accessibility.

Best wishes for a successful solution!


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