What is more fun than reading words? Looking at pictures!
As we start, progress through, and complete projects, we usually end up with a ton of pictures that don't get used for much. This type of article will walk our audience through the progression of some of our projects so that you can see exactly what goes into a project from start to finish. This first one is a doozy!
We're currently in the middle of a large 1,400 square foot addition in Florence MA that is for a wheelchair-bound individual. Without getting into personal details, this client is younger than our normal client and has very limited use of their limbs - utilizing a motorized wheelchair to navigate everyday life. They currently live with family members, but the original house was just too small for any type of independent freedom. Below is a list of just some of the requirements/design aspects that needed to be incorporated in this project:
- The addition must tie into the existing house with same-level access to both structures
- The addition needs its own entrance as well as an emergency exit large enough for a twin bed
- Remote technology is to be used - from automatic door openers to skylight blinds to lighting
- The addition must have a small kitchen for home-care aides and entertaining
- The addition must have a separate bathroom for aides and storage room for medical supplies
- The addition must have an easily accessible roll-in wet-room bathroom
- The addition must have a ceiling lift able to move from the bedroom to the bathroom
- The addition must have indirect/dimmable lighting for light sensitivity
- The addition must meet energy efficiency stretch codes
- The addition must be stylish and cool so that friends can come over for entertainment
The Design Phase:
Aging In Place Builders and the client went through a lengthy design process that included many iterations, changes, and tweaks to get everything perfect (or as close to it as possible). The designer that was used was also wheelchair-bound from an accident, which meant the floorplan was being created for a handicapped individual by a handicapped individual - they both understood each pain point on a much more personal level.
There wasn't much demo to be done for this project, but it was fun to watch!
We ran into a handful of issues right off the bat - but it wouldn't be "construction" if there weren't issues! For starters, the preliminary permitting/zoning plan ran into some snags when an existing garage which had been updated to living space was deemed unable to be used in this project and needed to remain 5' away from any new structures. This redesign of the new addition pushed the timetable back which introduced our next issue - Winter! This project was designed to be a frost-wall foundation with a raised 4" slab to existing floor height. We got the frost-wall foundation poured in time, but missed the window for the slab because the temperatures dropped.
Overall, framing went pretty smoothly outside of finding some major water damage on the existing house (which was repaired). We used 2x6 framing, reinforced engineered trusses to account for ceiling lift loads, and Zip System sheathing for the exterior envelope.
This client chose a nice light-olive color and decided to re-side the original house so that everything matched. In addition to the new structure, the existing house got a new roof (including new sheathing) due to a previous water issue.
Our electrical plan was pretty extensive as the client will need lots of outlets, indirect lighting features, dimmers, and specialty equipment like a ceiling lift. Similarly, our plumbing was designed to be centralized due to the increased amount of fixtures (two vanities, two toilets, two shower nozzles, etc.). These plans were determined and implemented before the concrete slab sealed in the conduit/plumbing.
To ensure we're adhering to the latest energy efficiency codes, we used dense-packed cellulose insulation in the walls, closed-cell spray foam on some of the tricky parts of the ceiling, loose-blown cellulose in the attic area, and soundproofing around the bedroom/living room. When combined with a dual zone minisplit system and supplemental ceiling heaters, this addition will maintain a nice warm/cool temperature throughout the seasons. We then installed airtight gaskets around the framing and installed blue-board with smooth plaster for a wall finish. This will give the addition a more durable and extra-smooth finish throughout.
We're in the middle of building the rear deck/ramp which will double as an emergency exit large enough for a hospital bed. The bedroom has a large 7' french door which opens onto a deck with 5' wide ramps leading to the back yard - in the event of a fire or emergency, this will be a quick and easy way to roll the bed to safety. This deck/ramp structure will also be made from high-quality material including AZEK composite decking, low-profile aluminum railings, and completely lit up with photosensitive post-cap lights, tear-drop lights, and riser lights.
We're moving right along on this project and hope to have it completed within the next 1-2 months. Items that will be included in the next project update include automatic doors, finished deck/ramps, custom tiled wet-room, and finish items like kitchen cabinets, vanities, doors and trim. Keep an eye out for the next installment of this project because it's sure to have a fun ending!
If you think that your situation or house could use any of the things outlined in this article, go ahead and schedule your In Home Safety Assessment now - it's free and will help you gain a better understanding of what is possible as you Age In Place.