Disabled access to buildings is a complete joke in the UK. Not only access on the high street but homes generally are not built with the disabled in mind.
The Building RegulationsThese are the mass of regulations that cover safety, health, welfare, convenience, energy efficiency etc. in the way buildings are constructed. Not to be confused with Planning consent (which is more to do with whether you can put up the building in the first place). See more on the regulations part Mthe Approved documentsApproved documents (England) are detailed publications which come under the English Building Regulations. They are based on tried and tested methods of building and if you follow them you are assured of complying with the Regs. The equivalents for Scotland are the Technical HandbookUnder the Scottish Building Regulations, the Technical Handbook gives construction principles, which, if you follow them guarantee compliance with the Regulations, for Wales: the Approved documents (Wales), and for N.I. the Technical BookletsUnder the Northern Ireland Building Regulations, the Technical Booklets give construction principles, which, if you follow them guarantee compliance with the Regulations (England) part M, deals with Access to and use of buildings contain the legislation on provision for access.
The Lifetime Homes"Lifetime Homes make life as easy as possible for as long as possible because they are thoughtfully designed. They provide accessible and adaptable accommodation for everyone, from young families to older people and individuals with a temporary or permanent physical impairment". See the Lifetime Homes page and the Lifetime Homes Foundation web site web site clearly makes the point about how, for little extra cost, houses can be designed which will cater for changing needs including a variety of disabilities. Considering that we are an ageing population with a large proportion of people who are in some way at least partly disabled, it makes sense to build in the possibility for future adaptation of a house even if you don’t incorporate all the details immediately. This may not be directly relevant for you right now but in the future some member of your family may benefit. Also, if you come to sell the house it may be a positive factor in someone’s choice for purchase.
This thinking fits well with the section on multi-use design because flexible and adaptable design may go hand in hand with accessibility. One only needs to think of a granny flat being created out of part of a family house to get the point.
Lifts – it may be possible to include an area where a future wheelchair lift could go, possibly in a hall near the stairs where it faces onto areas of floor on both levels. It may also work to line it up with a vertical service duct. Such lifts can be free standing and can be ‘through’ entry and exit. This may be a better option than a stair lift. The Building Regulations, Fire Safety, have stipulations on the positioning of lifts which serve any floor more than 4.5m above ground level. See para. 2.18.
Bathrooms – the Approved documents part M has a section on sanitary facilities with detailed drawings and an LABCLocal Authority Building Control (LABC) represents all local authority building control teams in England and Wales. see their web site article explains why the details are important