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ADA-Accessible Wheelchair-Friendly Tiny Houses

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Article by Laura LaVoie

This post will show you some basics regarding ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible tiny homes in case you or someone that you know has special needs. We recently had this question as a comment on a post about container homes:

“I rather like the ideas for container housing. What I need is a home that is electric wheelchair (and associated medical equipment) friendly. With an inability to use lofts, the need for a handicapped friendly shower and bathroom. Turning radius issues of the chair and widened door/hall openings the housing I need probably won’t fit in the “tiny” range. Shoving a bed into a corner won’t work either as you cannot get the wheelchair between the bed and the corner to make the bed. I’m trying to determine the balance between space enough to move around effectively and comfortably without a lot of unneeded space. Does anyone have any leads on something like this. Those of us needing this type of housing often are trying to live on disability and cannot afford a “full sized” house.”

Wheelchair-Friendly Tiny Homes

Marcs Wheelchair Friendly THOW by Tiny Idahomes 007

Image © Tiny Idahomes

Alex and I both thought this was a worthy topic to discuss here at Tiny House Talk. There is no reason that a small house or other alternative building can’t be modified or designed to fit the needs each individual customer. So I began some research.

By the way, to explore more helpful tiny house articles like this, join our Tiny House Newsletter. It’s free and you’ll be glad you did! We even give you free downloadable tiny house plans just for joining!

What I found when I Googled the subject was very interesting. I came across a lot of people asking the question on a lot of tiny house blogs but limited answers being provided. Here are some of the things I did find.

On The Tiny House Blog back in 2011, a building company called BuildZing was featured. They were described as a company that built eco-friendly and affordable homes. They also indicated that their designs could be modified to be ADA compliant. The problem with BuildZing? Doing a search for the company today leads to only broken links. There is no working contact information and even the owner’s Twitter account went silent back in 2009. BuildZing – if you’re out there let us know!

I also came across an interesting website and concept called Elder Cottages. These homes are intended to be affordable solutions for elder family care. The idea is really great and could be easily adapted for multiple uses.  The concept isn’t necessarily intended to fit into the Tiny House movement; their smallest home is still nearly 600 square feet and costs over $32K to build. However, if you already have land or space in a family member’s lot this could be a reasonable solution.

Seattle Tiny Homes advertises an ADA Accessible design called The Magnolia. This design is the only I’ve seen that offers the typical tiny house on wheels solution with full ADA compliance while still being customizable to fit your specific needs or requests. I wonder how this might address some of the concerns from our original question.

Stephen Marshall from Little House on the Trailer designs and builds wheelchair accessible homes which he calls home care cottages in Petaluma, California.

Examples of Wheelchair-Friendly Tiny Homes

Marc’s Wheelchair-Friendly Tiny House by Tiny Idahomes

Marcs Wheelchair Friendly Tiny House on Wheels by Tiny Idahomes 001

See more of Marc’s wheelchair-friendly THOW here.

The Wheel Pad: A Tiny Home That’s Wheelchair-Friendly

Wheels Pad Tiny House on Wheels via Chibi Moku 003

See more of the Wheel Pad here.

400-Square-Foot ADA Shipping Container Tiny Home


See more of this ADA-compliant shipping container home here.

ADA-Compliant Tiny SMART House

ADA Tiny House on a Foundation by Tiny Smart House with Muprhy Bed Desk 001

See more of the ADA Compliant THOW by Tiny SMART House here.

Video Tour of a Wheelchair-Accessible Custom THOW by Tiny Idahomes

The Wheel Pad Wheelchair-Friendly THOW Video Tour

Tiny or Alternative Houses are out there for individuals who need better accessibility. If you’re interested in something like this consider contacting the individual companies here but you can also search alternative or tiny handicapped accessible houses and find a few other options. Have you discovered other avenues? Are there companies out there with experience in ADA building regulations who wish to chime in? This is only the beginning of the discussion so I hope we are able to explore many potential solutions.

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More Like This: Tiny Houses | ADA Tiny Homes | THOW | Wheelchair-friendly Tiny Homes

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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 58 comments… add one }
  • jparkes
    July 30, 2012, 2:58 pm

    It’s a design challenge that shouldn’t be at all difficult to beat! My own doodled plans always seem to lack doorways, and use instead strategic walls and line of sight for placement…meaning you don’t need doors or even hallways if you plan it out right…doors and hallways are only needed if your design is flawed and you’ve wasted living space.
    Of course i’m the kind of person who always thought the bathtub should be in the kitchen anyway…

  • Samantha
    July 31, 2012, 8:55 am

    That is a tough one since a lot of them are built with lofts, including my own small house. It seems the solution would be to have it be one story. One built on a trailer, like many people are doing, would be doable as well but I would suggest a removable ramp or one that folds up, to access the house. My father has a prosthetic foot so we have been working on making it to where he can drive a four wheeler up to the back of our house and access it that way when he wants to come visit. What I think would be the hardest thing to deal with would be how to make a tiny house bathroom easier for handicapped individuals to use.

    • August 6, 2012, 8:34 am

      Great point on the bathrooms Samantha and thanks for the other ideas too!

  • July 31, 2012, 11:35 am

    I don’t know how he solved the issue of making the bed, but Mark Chenail designed a “200 sqft cabin for the disable” with a built-in bed nook. From http://www.countryplans.com/contest.html:

    As Mark Chenail said when posting this design, “I found this a very intriguing exercise but would like to point out that most of the designs posted are aimed at the young skinny nimble and able-bodied. As I am confined to a wheelchair and plus-sized into the bargain, I decided to see what I could design all on one level and as accessible as possible. That meant NO steps, ladders, lofts for sleeping. [Here is] a simple minded shed.”


  • ktashrobb
    August 5, 2012, 2:43 pm

    Please, someone, develop a movement like Habitat for the disabled community with small houses and perhaps on site case management services. Also remember that the chronically mentally ill need these services too. Perhaps acquiring a “dead” RV park or Mobile home park would get around the zoning issues. If there is anyone out there with grant writing acumen I would be happy to help with the scut work to get this done.

    • August 6, 2012, 8:41 am

      I’d also love to see a mobile home park purchased by tiny house enthusiasts and converted appropriately. Thanks!

      • Denise Gendreau
        January 20, 2017, 3:23 pm

        Bathrooms for the disabled must contain one of two, a step in tub or a roll in shower. Definitely replace stairs with ramps. Bed and bath must be on same level. If stairs are necessary, add secure railings on both sides. Programmable medication timer would be very helpful.

  • jim sadler
    August 5, 2012, 3:11 pm

    Designing a home for the disabled needs to be specific to the person and the disability involved. One size will not fit all so to speak. Without living with a specific disability the difficulties involved will not be apparent and often the solutions can be counter intuitive. The one thing that might give the disabled an edge in this issue involves the American With Disabilities Act and the very real need to towns and associations allowing their zoning requirements to comply with the Act.
    I noticed that one zoning district counts lofts of any types as floor area and therefore the exemption for 100 sq. ft. out buildings means that lofts are not allowed. The struggle continues.

    • jill
      June 14, 2014, 8:53 pm

      this is a really good point. My son is in a power wheelchair, and depends on me entirely to help him with toileting and bathing. I always think it’s kind of funny when we are at hotels and I’m so irritated because all the grab bars are just taking up space I need! I appreciate this article and the comments. This is the most info I’ve found in one place, on the accessible tiny house subject.

  • jerryd
    August 5, 2012, 4:08 pm

    One solution is having the E wheelchair be chair and bed. I’m working on one because sometimes I just have to lay down from back problems to heat stroke/low BP. Once you do that it leaves a lot of space for other things or less space.

    Also mine will go 20mph for 40 miles or so which ewould eliminate the need for a car for most things.

    I’m building mine to go on the back of my Harley size EV trike as backup or for events, flea markets, etc I can’t do now.

    On the bath just have it open to the room with a slightly slanting floor for the water to drain, sitting on the toilet for it, showering, etc. The sink can be within reach because the whole thing is only 2.5’x3′. One can even include the area just outside it and enclose it with a curtain, etc.

    As a long time sailor being in very tight quarters is an advantage as one can pull oneself along with ones arms with overhead, side handholds like on most sailboats have. A single level with bad, kithen, bath on level with the slick say varnished wood, could just easily slide from one part to another.

    Slightly modified, for some handicaps this could be a solution for a very tiny house, freeing them from wheelchairs at least at home.

  • Bill
    August 5, 2012, 11:41 pm

    Looking at The current newsletter and seeing the ADA focus is encouraging to me .I am 52 and would require a house where the loft might be used for something other than sleeping .I am rather intrigued with the idea of a murphy bed or a ‘Descending” bed…of course you would have to pick a power source to raise and lower it whether that be hand crank or electricity.Just some points to ponder…

    • August 6, 2012, 8:39 am

      Thanks Bill. A murphy bed that would work in a tiny home is a great idea. Not sure why it’s not done much.. A descending bed would be neat too instead of a loft. Thanks again for the ideas and I’ll keep it coming with more.

  • Terrie
    August 6, 2012, 10:50 am

    Thanks so much for trhis article. Being that both my husband and I are disabled, we are very much interested in a tiny home that we could use. I found one floor plan that might work for our situation but it is 850 sq ft. It is an open floor plan and everything is within reach. I have to use an E-chair most of the time and having to walk more than 50 ft is extremely painful. My husband has to hold onto everything when he walks but he is not yet to the point of an E-chair. A small, open-floored, one story home is our idea of paradise! Our problem is price and location as our town is not diabled friendly in zoning or having to comply to ADA requirements, even in public/comerical places. Being on one Disability allotment, we are not able to put up 32G or more for a tiny home. Trying to get out of the monstrocity we live in now is not happening as the housing market is still very flat to non-existant here. But, we are still trying to plan and maybe one day, we will be able to get a small plot of land outside of city zoning and be able to build a very small home that is disability friendly and we can have a better life. This article gives me some leads which I appreciate very much!

    • August 18, 2012, 4:54 pm

      Thanks, Terrie, I’m glad you found the article helpful. Wish you the best in your search for a new home and in the sale of your current one.

  • ktashrobb
    August 6, 2012, 11:13 am

    Look at James Marple Jr’s Plan 53 for a 485 ft2 modified shotgun home that might meet many needs for universal accessibility. The plan is available through Amazon and you can use the “look inside” feature to see the layout.
    I do not think that the plan would work for a totally chair bound user.

    Remember to modify doors in ADA houses. They need to be greater than 32″ to get a stretcher through w/o turning the person on their side. (As a former assistant to a funeral director I KNOW this for a fact.) Pocket doors are a good option and there are specialized hinges tat will add a few inches of clearance if one has to go smaller.

  • Lisa
    August 8, 2012, 2:30 am

    Murphy beds are not used very often because the of the high cost.

  • jerryd
    August 8, 2012, 8:26 am

    I think murhy bads are not used because when up they are not much use of the space.

    Better is a couch/bed that one can sit on when not used as a bed. They can be pull out, back folds up to be a bunk bed, etc.

    Another is a pair of recliner/beds like I’ll use on my wheelchair but without motive power.

    • August 18, 2012, 5:03 pm

      Thanks, Jerry, good point

  • Rich
    August 9, 2012, 10:04 am

    Alex there is a very real need to provide options to the physically challenged. Tx for taking this on. My first thought about taking this forward was a workshop but location (convenient and accessible) is immediately daunting. So how about a webinar. It is unlikely that folks with such challenges will be building their own house so it is the design process, codes and products that should be discussed. 20 years ago I designed a 3 unit “motel” for elder relatives that served them well and continues as viable rental property. And I spent 26 years working as a designer/project with a campus accessibility facilitator on various challenging projects. I’m willing to discuss some sort of webinar with you and others. Let’s stay in touch. Rich

    • August 18, 2012, 5:08 pm

      Hi Rich- great idea, I’m definitely down for a webinar focused on the topic. Thanks so much for your thoughts. Talk soon, Alex

  • August 17, 2012, 2:53 pm

    We rebuilt an ADA accessible house for two people in two manual wheelchairs–in under 320 square feet. Our blog has our notes and progress, etc. If you are ever in Denver, look me up–I can show you the house and the accessible garden in back. I have now lived there for 3 years and I love it.

    • August 18, 2012, 5:09 pm

      Thanks, Deena! Checking out your blog now, glad you shared!

  • Carolyn B
    October 1, 2012, 9:01 pm

    Glad I ran across this site. I too love the tiny house movement but also use a wheelchair 24/7. Would love to keep updated on any builders, designers etc who are working with accessibility and small house movement practices.

    • October 4, 2012, 5:59 pm

      Hi Carolyn I’d look into Stephen Marshall:


      • Carolyn B
        October 5, 2012, 2:09 pm

        Thanks for the name, Alex. I do love his newest video re: Home Care Cottages.

      • Bruce Wheeler
        May 26, 2014, 9:50 pm

        Stephen Marshall has some good ideas with sleeping spaces on the main floor, but most have bathrooms that are not ADA compliant in that they do not have the required turning radius for a wheelchair . The one plan I found that does meet that requirement, would only have turning space in the bedroom if there was one twin bed (only) in the bedroom and that was pushed again the wall in the corner. The kitchen is generally compliant only if you have turning space in the bedroom on the one end and the living area on the other end of the house. The stove also does not have a roll under, but that would be easy to change. So look carefully at “ADA Compliant” plans to see if they actually meet the requirements (and would work with your specific needs), or get help checking them from someone who is very familiar with the requirements.

  • Kathy L
    December 15, 2012, 9:41 pm

    While retirement is not imminent, my DH and I have decided that our next house should be our last house. We will move from it to the funeral home or the nursing home. Hoping to stave off the latter we have recently added ADA features into our wish list in the interest of aging in place. The thoughtful posts here are a good reference for what we may need.

  • March 11, 2013, 3:04 pm

    What an interesting concept. It’s great to see an increasingly larger number of people bringing to light different ways for handicapped and/or seniors to live safely, yet independently in their own (tiny!) homes.

  • Jean
    June 14, 2013, 9:08 pm

    Great to see some ADA solutions.

    In planning space it would be smart to include the possibility of needing:
    a hospital bed
    a sling lift to move a person between bed to wheelchair (portable or reinforcement in ceiling?)
    a shower chair

    • Comet
      November 20, 2013, 12:19 am

      Having to “pull” yourself thru a doorway with a too-small opening while using a wheel chair is NO fun. And that is with full upper body useage—someone with limited useage could not do this at all. I had to do this thru the bathroom and bedroom door ways—with the SHARP turns to even approach the doorways—after a leg amputation. And I could “sort of” stand and manipulate the manual chair.

      Using the kitchen was–fun! Nothing was reachable. Getting things from the fridge or the cabinets to the sink and stove—if I could reach the stuff—meant I had to find some way to carry them–in a bag or something. OK for things like—an apple- Not so much for an open milk carton or eggs! And using the sink was almost impossible. I had to use an old ice cream parlor stool we had and perch to get close enough. Could not drain things like pasta.

      Things you never think about! And I had been living using a Knee Walker for a YEAR before this–but that at least allowed me to get to some things better as you are standing. Insurance co’s will generally NOT build you a ramp either–or at least they would not do this for me and others I know—as their thought is–“Others will BENEFIT from this” so it is not “Just for the handicapped person’s use”. Um—I guess you could argue that giving you a wheelchair in some ways BENEFITS others as if you did NOT have one maybe that family member would have to CARRY you from one room to the next and to the car etc.

      For bathrooms—it is not that easy to “Just” build a shower open to the room and slant the floor to the drain. I wish it was! The “wet room” concept is great but–it has it’s flaws. Using the then wet floor can be a slip and fall hazard not only for the handicapped but for able bodied as well. Mold and water damage are always a concern but more so with this system. And they can cost a LOT. Most DIY’ers will not have the skills to take this on. And showering while sitting on a toilet–um—slippery as heck and really–no one wants to do this! Bath seats are great but they too have their limits—I remove the backs from them to be able to have more movement. The legs however can “splay” and unless re-inforced can splay enough to break. Ask me HOW I know this! And this is not just a concern for larger people. The design is just not that good.

      For a built in you need to consider all the people likely to use the shower and how they can function with a seat in there. IT should not be too far away from the controls or the person will not be able to reach them and adjust the temp etc—this is a serious issue and can lead to burns. Too far from the spray and it can be uncomfortably cold and the pressure can be weak and not enough to rinse with. If the edge hangs over the shower or tub/shower combo—like some “slide” ones–the water just runs OFF the edge and onto the floor–causing slippery conditions and water damage! Size of the seat, construction; placement; materials used; how to get the water to the user; comfort–no one wants to sit on a COLD hard wet seat! I warm mine up with hot tap water from the shower hose but not everyone has the luxury of water like we in the North Eastern US do.

      For flooring–carpet sounds yummy but—it drags your wheels and slows you down and can be a static breeder. Not to mention a chair or walker will wear it out or make “pathways”. Tile is sometimes a huge problem as the little gaps where the grout is can be enough to STOP me dead in MY tracks using a walker or the Knee Walker. And it can catch crutch tips! Shiney floors scare the you-know outta me—I fear slipping and falling. What the “answer” is on flooring I am still trying to puzzle out. But it is a consideration!

      Getting in and out—ramps can be a bargain with the devil. Too steep and it is almost impossible to get up and scary to get down. Too shallow and it just means extra work. Some angles will not work with a prosthetic foot–the ankle joints just won’t accomodate. And you also need to think about how climate will affect this—will the materials and hand rails get too hot? What happens in snow and ice? I can tell you–you might end up staying home more than you would like!

      So many things to think about.

      And as far as the ADA rules–some of which are absurd–I don’t THINK that a local town or county can say you CAN’T comply with these–I would get in touch with the ADA directly and find out. Pretty sure that this US Federal Law cannot be excluded.

      • Carolyn B
        November 21, 2013, 6:31 pm

        Hi, Comet. I wanted to say how much I enjoyed your comments above. Thanks for the humor so much. And I never realized that tile was a problem for crutches and walkers. Thanks for pointing that out. I’ve been in a wheelchair exclusively too long, I guess.

        • Comet
          November 21, 2013, 9:42 pm

          @CAROLYN B.–

          I am sorry to hear that you need to use a chair more than it sounds like you would like—

          Yes tile is –or can be!—very slippery esp when wet. Which can be sneaky! Some tiles don’t LOOK wet and then you hit them and have weight on a crutch or cane or even a walker and BOOM you are on your butt! Not fun!

          I hate to admit it but carpet is actually the “best” for getting a “grip” on surfaces–much as for other reasons it is a PITA. Grabs at your feet—which if you have a faux leg has a tendency to hang a bit lower than your “regular” foot—causes “drag” when using a walker–or a chair as you surely know!—but it is the best “No Slip”. Also the first to show dirt and wear sadly and costs a bunch.

          My MIL has a vast expanse of super shiny vinyl flooring that scares the crap outta me. We will inherit this and I am not looking forward to that esp as it is almost new—hard to justify ripping–and it is in the huge KITCHEN! What else would you out in there! LOL! They actually had some sort of indoor/outdoor carpet in there and that was old and wrinkled—I am just never happy huh!

          I wish there was some sort of flooring that met all needs but so far haven’t found it!

      • Bruce Wheeler
        May 26, 2014, 10:00 pm

        Your comments are excellent, Comet. Thank you.

        A possible solution for slippery floors might be what an architect ordered in a school shop I taught in. All the floors, which were concrete, had carborundum spread on them and seated into the concrete. There was no way that a person was going to slip on them, covered in sawdust or wet with water. Seems like there must be a way to do the same thing without using concrete as the floor. Maybe someone has used something and will tell us here!

  • April 6, 2014, 11:38 pm

    This is a wonderful conversation. My husband is dependent on a wheelchair and we have a toddler. So accessibility for him as well as the ability to care for our daughter is a must (i.e. her bed can’t be in a loft, either). I’m currently talking him into a 720 sq. ft. home on half an acre. It may not technically fit the tiny house movement, but it’s half the size of our currant house and half the expense. My heart is in tiny houses, but our life and true needs don’t make it possible at the moment. The person who mentioned “accessible” not being one-size-fits-all is absolutely correct. Each disability for each person can be totally different. A bed on large castors can be moved to reach the other side, or even a sliding mechanism with room at the head and the foot for the wheelchair to sit, so the mattress slides out on a platform. Usually bathrooms are the most challenging for us. My husband has to use a commode shower chair. We’re thinking a wet bathroom is the way to go in the new space. That way, the whole room is basically the shower space (like a large shower stall with wall sink and toilet in it). I would love to be involved in developing plans for accessible tiny houses. Thanks for talking about it!

  • Rebekah C.
    April 30, 2014, 6:32 pm

    I am looking for modular/mirco units that are ADA accessible. I am currently interested in being able to view floor plans of such projects. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • Doc
    May 27, 2014, 12:03 am

    Couple of comments here on ADA building tiny. Most any construction can be adapted to ADA. A friend has a construction business to do just that very thing, making aging in place possible.
    Also, in the tiny houses that do have stairs, the companies that make chair lifts can do custom installs that make upstairs accessible. Tiny house and ADA have trouble in the kitchen and bath areas. Narrow and no turning radius. I think it is better to go smallish than tiny and if you’re on wheels, go park model, not tiny. This extra 2′ allows a larger space in both areas to accommodate the width of crutches, walkers and wheelchairs. But, as you design your ADA build consider the height of everything. The bed, toilet, hitchen sink, stove and fridge. Also clear space under counters and sinks for owners in wheelchairs.
    There are alternatives that can involve tiny houses on wheels. It comes in the form of accessory dwellings for caregivers! Allowed in most communities, as they are considered temporary, until there’s no need for the caregiver. This help can be two fold. Both in the care given and monetary help. Family could help with “rent” for aging parents. Still cheaper than buying a new house nearby to provide care. Takes some of the burden from them.
    There are choices out there. Just have to pick what’s right for you or your parent or other loved one.

  • Comet
    May 27, 2014, 1:47 am

    @DOC—Yes these are considerations. Also–people need to build with the particular disabled person in mind–I am very short standing and cannot REACH a lot of things as it is muchless if I needed to use a chair again. So some one 6′ is going to need a whole different set of heights for things than I would. There are cabinets that lower to the user–but they are VERY expensive and need MUCH extra framing to hold the weight of china glass ware etc.

    Showers are also a problem size wise–what I can use is not again what that 6′ footer can! WE just replaced our old two-in-one shower head and for some reason it never occured to me that the NEW hose would be so MUCH shorter—to the point where I now need to go find a DIFFERENT hose even tho I now have one of those “slide” poles for the second shower hand held part. This became painfully evident when I needed to wash a mid-sized dog the other day and could NOT get her fully wet or rinsed!

    And altho I am handicapped I don’t consider myself too badly off vs some people who are so much MORE disabled than me. I can get around OK with a cane or walker and a wheelie cart. But–certain things remain challenges. We ride a motorcycle and vacation this way. We built a tow-behind-the-bike trailer to drag some of my needed equipment with me. For example–what DO you do if your prosthetic is OFF in the middle of the night and you need the loo? At home I have a knee walker and just hop up and fly. In a hotel room many times I can’t even FIT the walker THRU the bathroom DOORWAY. This can become a serious issue! I cannot get into or out of those absurd raised hotel beds–so we have to look like idiots questioning the HEIGHT of the bed. I can use a step stool to do this on some but not all. Hotels don’t COME with stepstools. Luckily for me–um—I use one to mount up on the bike. But as we discovered this winter–we need one in the CAR also! Never crossed my mind until we were in the middle of nowhere with no other hotels for miles and we were TIRED. No step stool! No Walmart handy!

    I have problems with how some bathrooms in business’ and hotels and even homes are set up—one hotel we go to for Bike Week has a toilet that you have to slide into the space SIDEWAYS. I thought it was just ME but no–turns out everyone has to do this odd little manouver! We love the place but—

    And I was told that I am the WORST kind of disabled person–as from the SURFACE it doesn’t LOOK like I have some major missing body part problems. One guy I know got so mad at some one carrying on about his “right” to use handicapped parking he took OFF his fake leg and smashed in the guys windshield. And then could not get the leg back ON.

    Oh yes–I am just in this for the PARKING.

  • Andrea Bradford
    July 31, 2014, 7:23 pm

    Hi Everybody,
    I had a bathroom remodel done for my Mom who has Parkinson’s disease. I got a grant through the electric company which paid $3500.00 for a handicap remodel of the bathroom. It allows a wheelchair access to the bathroom and the shower.
    Habitat for Humanity provides grants for ramps and some remodels so I would definitely check with them. The Rotary Club also built a ramp to the house for Mom. Mom worked three jobs to raise six kids alone so I was happy to do whatever I could to help her.
    There should be a community organization that can advise you who to get in touch with. I spent many hours on the computer finding out how to get these things done for Mom. It was not easy but it did finally work. I have seen a tiny home for the handicap but cannot find the link at present.
    In Georgia, you can sometimes find foreclosures really cheap. They had a winterization program that would pay up to $6500.00 for winterization and insulation of a home. I also got that done for Mom. The power bills went down by half. This was a federal grant through Action, Inc.
    This particular grant would also redo a rental property if the landlord agreed to it. Just call and call and check around.

  • Jenn
    August 9, 2014, 6:08 pm

    I am looking into the tiny house movement myself. I am in my mid-forties and have arthritis in my back and have now been diagnosed with it in my knees, so a loft bedroom with stairs would be ok for now, but it would have to become storage space or the guest room at some point as I am looking at how I will age into my tiny house. Or just don’t use the loft at all and have a bed that is the right height for me to sit on to begin with, having accessibility in mind. I was thinking the best thing I could do is to keep it as open and studio like as possible since it will be just me, with the ability to attach a ramp if needed to enter.

  • Elisabeth
    October 12, 2014, 8:13 am

    Hi I am disabled myself and using a walking frame and electric wheelchair. I read all your comments and an idea popped into my head: why not use the space above your head as storage in the use of shelves with pulley systems to pull them up or down when needed. Just my penny’s worth put in… 🙂 B-)

  • Elisabeth
    October 12, 2014, 8:36 am

    Also please check out this amazing programme series!
    Love your website and the amazing spaces… 😀

  • Comet
    October 17, 2014, 9:32 pm


    That IS a genius idea! Getting things into and out of a loft is the deal breaker for many people. That would allow for different widths of shelving too–some for larger totes of out of season stuff etc closer to the back and others for things used more often but not everyday–this would also make it possible to not use the entire “block” of loft space but maybe place several on either end.

    IF you made the edges of the shelves with a small or tall “lip” things would be safe there too. I could see things like your crock pot or taller pots going on one by the kitchen–after all most of us don’t use these things everyday but want them for when we DO need them–also extra storage for staples and things like TP and winter blankets–in one of those Vac-Bags of course!

    This could also be used in some areas of RV’s and houses—

    New use for my new winch??? Hmmmm!!!!
    Really a VERY good idea–wish there was a REC button!!!!

  • Adriana
    March 12, 2015, 12:59 pm

    I have been searching for plans/tiny house ADA approved. The only one I have found would have to be the Minim Homes. The only problem is the bathroom and the study/office area. Which my husband and I thought we could add some kind of ramp to get up and down from office. Perhaps something that pulls in and out just like the bed….Looks like we will have to contract and build ourselves.

  • March 22, 2015, 3:48 pm

    I am thinking that the “paragraph” that started this article looks familiar (I think I wrote it). I am still living in substandard and inaccessible housing (a house built in 1920, where my bedroom is the former “dining room” and I bathe in the kitchen sink…no bathroom on the first floor and no accessibility to any other part of the house but my “room” and the kitchen. I decided to “look again” to see if anything new has come up since around 2011-2012 when I last looked for an ADA compliant home I could perhaps have “parked” on a friend’s land, where I would have full accessibility and live on my own. I am still looking and would love to join the “tiny house revolution”, hey no property taxes, perhaps go as far “off the grid” as possible with solar electrical photovoltaics on one side of the roof and solar hot water on the other side. Window size can be minimal, because I have photophobia and would have most totally covered 99% of the time. If that was not my paragraph, I wrote a number VERY SIMILAR to it back when the Tiny House movement started to grow in popularity and I thought “shipping container” 20 years ago.

  • Cedar
    January 4, 2016, 4:24 pm

    HI – I do not know if anyone is still looking at this older thread, but would like some input. I am a landlord …(well, landlady, actually), living in Northern NY – not near NYC, but near Canadian Border, south of Ottawa. My husband (the landlord(!) was a contractor before getting fibromyalgia and having to retire early.) We built a 360ft tiny house for my Mom (who then got remarried in her 70s, right before it was completed) so we put the little “long house”, as we called it, up for rent A disabled gentleman in a wheel chair asked if we would be willing to put in a ramp so he and his wife could live in it. We had not yet bought appliances so, we not only built him a ramp, we bought an ADA compliant Stove and Frig, and added a w/d one piece combo to put under the kitchen instead of a floor cabinet, and a butcher-block counter that he could eat at as well as work at.
    In time, he lost his leg. We built a bigger bedroom on to the long house, and used a barn door style on the new bedroom, to open up the other side of the bathroom , as he said he just couldn’t get in the bathroom well with his wheel chair, even with the pocket door. It works great now, he says. Unfortunately, he may lose his other leg. As a landlord, I see no agencies willing to help with cost of remodeling. The couple was on a fixed income and so couldn’t afford more, even when we added the second bigger bedroom and a dining area on for them. More modifications need to be made, for accessibility and still allowing freedom even with no legs…and we are thinking of renting out this tiny house and building one from scratch for our 3 year plus tenants. Please let me know if you have ideas that might help us build the best handicapped house ever – we plan on it being 24×24(576 sq ft) and thought we would not have a wall between the living room and the bedroom – but instead use hospital style curtains on runners, so he can be part of family gatherings even if he is not up to getting out of bed, but can have privacy when he wants it. We would put a 8×9 bedroom in it also, so that grandchildren/ helpers could come stay as well. Please let me know any ideas you have ever thought about, or any modifications that you have done – we would like to provide the very best (although not expensive) space possible. Hopefully we will be able to find someone else disabled that might then like to rent the long house from us! Simple Drawings would be awesome too! [email protected] or write us back on this site – thank you!

  • Deena Gantt
    March 31, 2016, 2:50 pm

    I’m in the planning stage of building a Tiny House adjacent to our current house as I am transitioning from mostly limping & moaning with a wheelchair for outside excursions to pretty much wheelchair. None of your plans include a bathtub. Water jets, air bubbles and hot water increase my mobility. I’ve had outdoor hot tubs in the past, (not currently-privacy & cost issues), but also tubs in the “inside plumbing”. If I’m building a whole structure to be ADA, I want a whirlpool tub! We’re thinking 14′ x 28′. Any suggestions?

  • September 19, 2016, 9:10 pm

    It’s the ADA, not AHA…

    “It is possible that a disability is the cause of a handicap. For example, if a person has a disability that prevents them from being able to move their legs, it may result in a handicap in driving.

    Disabled people do not have to be handicapped, especially if they can find a way around their disability. For example, braille for the visually impaired or wheel chairs for those who cannot walk.”

  • Tami Sarro
    October 1, 2016, 12:07 am

    I’m a full time wheelchair user due to SCI and TBI. In the near future, I will start building my tiny house (with a lot of people being tall and strong as the need arises). My design is built upon a 28′ trailer. At the tongue end is a wet room (aka roll in shower) with a composting toilet catty-cornered from the shower spray (which sprays towards the tongue). In many cases grab bars are only useful to keep me stable when on the commode or shower seat. Instead, I find myself levering myself by pushing up with my hand on the seat. Many cracked and broken toilet seats with the resulting fall that wraps me around the fixture, brought to to an extensive replacement seat; the AXS wingman. I’m redesigning my composting toilet around this seat. Given that I use a back in 45° transfer (‘chair and toilet parallel, then turn the knees towards the fixture) the facing wall is very close for all the bipeds. Finalising the last measurements by mocking it up in a garage. Fifteen inches to the wall in front of me works great, but may need to steal a few inches so people don’t break their nose getting off.
    Moving towards the tail through the barn door a combo washer dryer unit is on the shower side and an 18″ deep counter / storage at the other.
    Another roll forward and you are in the kitchen. Using an ultralight ‘chair, I am much lower to the ground and significantly more compact than when I was in my rehab or hospital style manual. This means I really don’t have much reach. The counters are 21′ deep, the oven is a counter top convection, the sink is 16″ x 23″ x 5.5″ with the drain off in the corner, the stove is a pull out TV propane with a flush mounted glass cover, and the fridge is a smallish RV style (8 ft 3). The counter height is 29.5″, with knee space under the sink, stove, and a work area next to the fridge. A pull out butcher block allows me to get things from one side to the other without carrying things on my lap (and inadvertently throwing them to the floor as I spin around). Also, it’s another work space and table that can be pushed just about anywhere, including the shower when it really needs to be hosed down.
    There is a loft office / workshop / guest room that I access via a bosun’s chair transfer sling Frankensteined contraption. All the bipeds get to use the ladder of grab bars up the cabinet. At the far end is a raised full sized day bed alcove with a landing that’s at the perfect height for me to transfer. A slide over to the landing and a pop up onto the bed. The remaining space between the alcove and the kitchen is the entry/lounge area with banquet seating and a very wide entry door.
    All of these pieces have been or are being mocked up down to the quarter inch, including the loft, sans the entry lounge. That’s where all the remain space will be.
    The trailer has the lowest deck we can get, letting me get away with a 12’ portable ramp (a little steeper than 1:12).
    I’ll post accurate drawings and specifics as soon as I can. Where is still in the air, but I thought getting the ideas that I’m finding that work out there, may help others figure out ways to get their needs and desires met.

  • Karen Bradley
    January 23, 2017, 6:22 am

    I am a 62-year-old polio victim and up until 4 years ago I was driving, walking, running my own errands, etc. But seemingly overnight my body quit on me and I went from a part-time wheelchair user to a full-time wheelchair user. I cannot even stand because my back won’t support it anymore. My income will drop in a couple of years, so now I am doing research of tiny houses so I can build one in my mom’s backyard. The open floor plan is an absolute must for me, as well as bathroom accessibility. I am absolutely leaning towards no doors, minimal dividing walls and cabinets with sliding doors, maybe a grab bar at the bed. And a pull-out pantry. Needless to say, I am learning a lot about new ideas for the disabled.

    • Natalie
      January 23, 2017, 7:09 am

      I’m so sorry to hear about your situation Karen. I’m glad you are researching tiny homes and I hope you find just what you need!

    • Steve Patterson
      January 23, 2017, 3:52 pm

      Eliminating interior doors is a good idea — I’m so lucky my loft has very few interior doors — very open plan.

      Not every municipality or subdivision allows accessory units behind a main house, so check regulations before going too far with your planning.

      • Karen Bradley
        January 23, 2017, 5:42 pm

        Yes, I am aware of all the different building codes, etc. I worked in a law office for 17 years and we did quite a bit of real estate work. I did talk to a builder today and told her my situation, and Mom is eager to get started so I won’t have to sign another apt. lease. So we will get bids and advice, costs, etc. I will keep you updated. By the way, this is an excellent website and I quite literally stumbled on it. Loads of useful information. Thank you so much.

  • april diselrod
    April 8, 2017, 5:38 pm

    interested on having a ada tiny home built

  • Paul Blecke
    April 10, 2018, 11:21 pm

    I am a Vietnam veteran with 100% disability and I need help to build a tiny house on my 5th wheel trailer which is 19 ft long and 8ft wide .I live in a 1985 motor home with only one uility which is Electric the uilitys are buckets.I am living in a very healthy ineviorment and I need help with having my trailer home built.I have got a lot of new RV parts already like a shower stall,vanity,pex water lines and fittings,etc.I need help for this winter almost finish me and double braces its getting harder to live and I haven’t had a real cooked meals for months only microwave.I need help

  • Karen Blackburn
    January 1, 2019, 8:31 pm

    Not sure if this would be of interest but here in Ireland and in the UK (not sure about rest of Europe, Australia, New Zealand etc) if you are disabled and don’t own a house which can be adapted you will be eligible for council housing, which is to say your local council is obliged to provide you with a suitable adapted house which you rent, and later have a chance to buy. The ones near where I live are all 2 bedroom with a kitchen and living room, small garden, fully adapted bathroom specifically for your needs. My sister lives in one near by, it is 3 bedroom with the”master” bedroom being the largest and with its own adapted full bathroom. It was originally for her father-in-law but after he died she inherited it, so to speak, and as she herself suffers from ill health the council adapted the bathroom just to suit her (she has family living with her as she can no longer live on her own). It would be relatively easy, if someone was interested, to write to the appropriate government agency either in the UK or Ireland and obtain specifications for the buildings. Every new house built here in Ireland now must have a downstairs fully wheelchair accessible bathroom and in most cases it is possible to easily transform one of the downstairs rooms into a bedroom (a friend has done this for her mother who is bedridden). If a small, relatively poor, country like Ireland can do it then it should be fairly easy for a charity or similar group in the US to contact the relevant government agency to get specifications, because they are available in 1-4 bedroom options, with one or two full bathrooms, kitchen/breakfast and living areas, all suitable for disabled users. I myself am on the list but live in a rural village and don’t want to live in the town (which is where the council houses are based for obvious reasons). The layouts are nearly all the same, and they are basically identical to those in the UK, might be worth it to someone who is seriously interested and having problems with layouts and sizes of rooms, doorways etc.

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