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Let’s Call it “Visitability”


by Ellen Blake

What the heck is “visitability”?

Many people refer to this housing trend as “accessibility”, but that word seems to have a negative connotation for some, conjuring up visions of older adults with age related disabilities. The term,”visitability” is becoming the preferred, and actually a kinder and more welcoming, term for homes with accommodations.

Visitability refers to single-family or owner-occupied housing designed in such a way that it can be lived in OR visited by people who have difficulty with steps.

What makes a house visitable?

Basically, it needs to meet three requirements:

  • one zero-step entrance.
  • doors with 32 inches of clear passage space.
  • one bathroom on the main floor you can get into in a wheelchair.

Think about it…when someone builds a new home, it’s not just for them. That home will be around for many years and at some point likely sold to another family. These simple accommodations hurt no one, but help many. They also do not add significant costs to the price.

Who benefits from visitability? Everyone!

  • The UPS driver who brings your heavy new cabinets and can more easily leave them on your front porch instead of at the curb
  • The college kid moving furniture and boxes out of the house
  • Grandma who wants to visit the children but knows she won’t be able to use the bathroom when she visits
  • The young mother with a baby stroller, who won’t need to bump it up and down steps when visiting.
  • The high school athlete who breaks a leg and needs to use crutches for 3 months
  • Your neighbor with Multiple Sclerosis which was not a problem a few years ago, but became progressively worse, making steps an issue.

The Bottom Line

Why add basic accommodations when designing your home? The better question is, “Why not?”. There will come a time when you and/or your guests will be very grateful you thought ahead!



image source:  Gus Ruballo from unsplash

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