In the spring of 2004, we began looking for our dream home here in Winnipeg. We looked for an accessible home and decided we would consider either old or new. We were aware we would have to do renovations to whatever house we’d find but were extremely surprised at not being able to find anything accessible. After months of house hunting, our excitement turned to frustration and we finally came to realize that it was better to buy property and build our own accessible home. It didn’t take long. By May of 2005, we had purchased an acre of land, although it would be two years before we began building our dream home.
Dennis and I gave much thought to our UNIVERSAL design. We went over our plans with our builder to be sure they would meet with the standard building code. We then got the stamp of approval for our design and, met a few times with the City of Winnipeg Universal Design Committee. We were firm that we didn’t want a basement and, with the Committee’s approval, we gave the go ahead to the builder. At last, machines began to dig on our property in July of 2007.
Note: Other then following building codes and the city by-laws, we didn’t need a professional architectural design for our home and yard plans. We knew what would work best for us and we were able to design our dream home to be both functional and accessible as well as being unique.
Our home was finally on its way to being built, taking into consideration the following requirements:
• because of my disability, there are no stairs;
• because of Dennis’ disability, there is a vaulted ceiling (because sound travels easily, making hearing easier);
• our home is 2000 square feet and incorporates 33 piles underneath it;
• the doors, (all eleven of them) are 36” wide; four doors on the outside have 5 foot ramps to each door (also, there are three French doors and four sliding doors in the house);
• the non-sliding doors have levers instead of door knobs, for easy access;
• the outside doors have push button entry keypads to lock and unlock them; • the house has electric heating and air-conditioning;
• the house is wired for convenience: the light switches are lower and the plug-ins are higher;
• the surround sound system incorporates ceiling speakers in all the rooms;
• the house is equipped with both video surveillance and an alarm system;
• Dennis did all the electrical wiring and installation in the house, using his creativity and expertise (stylish lighting, pot lights, dangling lights, chandeliers, etc.- with the lighting being warm and inviting to everyone who comes to visit);
• Dennis also applied his creativity and expertise outside with pot lights in the soffits, lampposts, floodlights, etc.;
• the flooring throughout the house is rubberized (this assists with non- skidding and being non-slippery for walking on – being durable for wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, and for individuals who need to keep their shoes on);
• there are 33 windows in the house – 14 of them have lift and push down window locks that Frances is able to manoeuvre;
• there are 2 bathrooms – the main bathroom door opens outwards to accommodate a motorized wheelchair or scooter and has a specialized non-skid bathtub, complete with grab bars and adjustable shower;
• the ensuite bathroom has a sliding door and a special needs adjustable shower and separate jet tub (with a seat, the bathroom is roomy enough for a wheelchair); • the toilets are push button, dual flush;
• entering by the front door, the home has an open concept and all rooms in the house are spacious;
• the kitchen is also unique – there are sliding doors under the sink, cupboard doors open and slide backwards into cupboard and a wheelchair is able to fit under the sink;
• kitchen drawers are deep to hold dishes, pots and pans, etc.; the pantry has drawers that pull out and the lower cupboard has a lazy Susan;
• there is separate, stand alone refrigerator and freezer;
• there is a double oven and a kitchen island with warming oven;
• there are french doors off the kitchen which lead to the backyard and patio;
• there is a sunroom off the kitchen;
• the master bedroom has a walk-in closet, vanity, and door leading to the garden;
• all faucets have lever-style taps;
• there is an inter-locking brick driveway with a walkway across the backyard leading to a fire pit with inter-locking brick around the fire pit;
• there is an exercise pool/swim spa (8 feet wide, 16 feet long and 5 feet deep);
• the exercise pool turns into a 6-seat hot tub, with a built in stereo and water fountain with changing coloured lights;
• there are stairs on one side of the pool and on the other side there is a ramp with a gradual slope and safety handrails;
• there is an insulated material structure (yellow to match the house) over the pool, providing 4-season year round use;
• there are trees and 5-foot bushes outlining part of our acreage for privacy and to provide shelter from the wind.
On the north side of our home is a road that is fairly busy with joggers, and people walking. Off that road is another short road that leads to a PGA Golf Course behind our home. Across the road from us is a horse stable that holds 13 horses. It’s beautiful to see the horses run, play or simply stand around at any given time. Our environment is very scenic.
Every possible consideration, within our budget, was thought of on the inside, outside, and including the landscaping of our accessible dream home.