Manufactured Homes Customized for the Handicapped May Offer Exterior and Interior Mobility

Note: The following is a reprise of a blog posting in 2019 that generated considerable interest.

As today’s seniors age and more “baby boomers” retire, the need for quality, affordable and comfortable housing is paramount in the minds of many senior American citizens, especially those with mobility issues and the handicapped.

If you are lucky to live long enough, and many of us are, you may eventually lose some mobility, requiring the utilization of a wheelchair for not only access to the home but also the mobility to utilize and comfortably enjoy that home.

Today’s manufactured homes are quality built with amenities, health, and safety features equal or superior to comparable site-built homes, with prices up to 50% less per square foot of living space.

Manufactured home and modular home builders may offer floor plans and customization options that will address the particular requirements and desires of those with handicaps or who may have mobility handicaps in the future.

To ensure the quality of lifestyle and independence envisioned by the purchaser is maintained, you will want to select from an expansive choice of floor plan designs to determine what adjustments are available for addressing your existing or potential future handicap needs.

The following are suggestions and possibilities regarding interior mobility, followed by exterior accessibility.

Floor Plan Suggestions For Interior Wheelchair Mobility

  • An “open concept” floor plan layout with wheelchair access to every area of the home. Bedrooms should be separated and not confined to one area of the home, thus eliminating or minimizing hallways.
  • Bathroom areas should be large and open, providing wheelchair-radius access to the toilet, bath/shower, sink, and linen.
  • Exit and passage doors should be unobstructed with a width of at least 36 inches.
  • Countertop height can be conveniently adjusted according to the handicap needs of the homeowner. Kneehole access to counters may also be anticipated.


Handicapped Exterior Access Is An Important Post-Production Consideration

As we live longer, many will eventually lose the ability to climb stairs, requiring the necessity for wheelchair accessibility of entry and exit of the home. The appropriate time to address that is when you are contemplating the purchase of a new manufactured home or modular home and securing a reliable construction company to properly prepare your site to accommodate the placement of the home with the home specifications you are considering purchasing.

Typically a manufactured home is installed approximately three feet above grade, necessitating steps at each entry and exit door. When a handicap ramp is used to displace the steps on a home, a 36-foot long ramp is required because each 12-foot horizontal length drops 12 inches, taking up a lot of space. Installing a handicap ramp of this size is only possible if the plot of land being used is large enough to accommodate it.

The good news is that there are other alternatives to be considered that might better your situation if limited space is a consideration.

  • Decrease The Height Of Manufactured Home: On a placement site that is near level, it is possible to install the home using shorter piers or blocks to a height from ground to about 26 inches, probably the lowest the home can be set above grade to allow for crawl space underneath home. This will require that tires and axles be removed from the home chassis. At this height, you will be able to use a much shorter ramp. It may also allow you to create a ramp using concrete for a porch landing.
  • In-Ground Low Profile Installation: Excavating a site (where permitted) to allow manufactured homes or modular homes to be installed with door entries to be at ground level is becoming very popular with many home purchasers. This installation method eliminates the need for stairs and does not require the use of skirting (aka underpinning) around the exterior of the home as the perimeter blocking or foundation is below ground level of the home. The low profile of the home makes it appear more residential than a manufactured home installed in a conventional manner. This type of installation goes by various names, such as pit sets. low profile or low silhouette installation.
  • Residential Wheelchair Lifts: Residential lifts are less expensive, adapt to entries, can be used by residents/visitors, and their footprint is minimal. Some manufacturers or post-production installers may be able to incorporate “lift-ready” applications into the manufactured home entry porches. The only drawback to lifts –  they won’t work in an emergency during a power outage.

Note: Some of the suggested handicap applications we have detailed here may be subject to requirements of the ADA (American Disability Act). Contacting retailers in your intended geographical placement area is recommended prior to moving forward.

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