France + Associates are a multi-award winning Chartered Architectural Practice, that specialises in designing accessible homes for individuals living with life changing injuries.
In this case study, France + Associates share Isaac’s project, which is one of many excellent project examples completed over the years by F+A, of how a fully accessible home can maximise a person’s quality of life, support their independence and enable continuing therapy, whilst avoiding ‘clinical finishes’.
France + Associates are of the belief that a home can be both practical, accessible but maintain the home comforts we all enjoy.
This recently completed, fully accessible family home in Yorkshire has been designed and built for Isaac, his parents and siblings.
Isaac is 11 years old, he was born full term, but very underweight and suffered a brain injury at birth in July 2011. As a result, he lives with cerebral palsy, cognitive impairment and has a diagnosis of autism.
He requires ongoing support and therapeutic intervention, such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy to support his health and welfare as well as promoting his learning, development and independence. Isaac also lives with impaired mobility, which means he finds stairs difficult, and in time, may require a wheelchair.
His family were previously living in a terraced house, which they had undertaken minor adaptations to, but required a bigger, fully accessible home for Isaac to grow up in.
With a big supportive network of family and friends living nearby, the family were keen to stay in the local area and began the search for a suitable home. After searching for some time, they identified a suitable dormer bungalow in late 2018.
France + Associates were first appointed to visit the property and appraise whether the property could be suitably adapted to suit Isaac requirements as well as his family’s.
The suitability report identified areas of the building that would need to be addressed to ensure the property would assist and improve Isaac’s day-to-day living.
Extensive surveys of the property were undertaken to allow France + Associates to better understand the building and potential issues that would need to be resolved as part of the building process, as well as produce a design scheme highlighting the most effective way, from a building viability, cost and of course suitability perspective to meet Isaac’s needs.
The family were delighted with France + Associates proposal, which addressed level access issues, included new single storey extensions to the side and rear of the property to provide enough space to include a ground floor bedroom and specialist bathroom for Isaac along with his own therapy room.
Extensive external work was also proposed to allow Isaac to play safely with his siblings and friends.
A key aspect of the design was to ensure the home would be viable for both Isaac’s present needs and those he may have in the future.
Use of rooms, the building’s layout and potential future alternative uses were carefully considered to ensure the home would suit Isaac’s needs long term.
Planning consent was applied for and achieved in December 2019.
Each stage in the process including the tender process was explained clearly to the family, to better understand their role and what was to be involved, along with expected timescales.
This allowed Isaac and his family to make informed, timely decisions.
France + Associates produced the appropriate documentation to be formally issued to primed building contractors to obtain competitive building costs.
Following receipt of quotations, F+A undertook the detailed cost analysis process, providing recommendations of the most viable route forward.
At the same time, statutory consent was sought from various authorities to ensure the works could safely commence onsite.
Construction commenced in January 2021, with France + Associates appointed as Contract Administrators, liaising with both the family, the contractor and other stakeholders.
The construction process would include extensions to the home, internal adaptations to suit access needs, along with renovation of the dwelling to create a completed build in harmony with the design that was deemed suitable for Isaac and his family’s needs.
Key accessibility features
This home has been designed and built to accommodate Isaac’s present needs as well as being future proofed to accommodate those that he may have as an adult.
When Isaac is old enough, he will have the choice to live independently in his home, so a major consideration has been to include live-in carers accommodation, including a small kitchenette area for care staff.
Future consideration around mobility was carefully thought of, such as the ceiling infrastructure, to ensure a hoist system could be installed in specific areas if ever required for Isaac.
As well as adaptations inside the home, Isaac and his family were also looking forward to having a secure property to provide a safe, accessible garden.
With access to the garden directly from his own bedroom, Isaac can now play safely and independently.
As the ‘heart of the home’, it was important to design a kitchen that could be enjoyed by the whole family.
The large kitchen / living area at Isaac’s home is designed and orientated to be part of Isaac’s life, learning vital life skills and cooking for himself.
Isaac’s kitchen is open plan with ample space for a wheelchair to navigate should it be required in the future.
There is open access between the dining area, living space and kitchen, which also includes a height adjustable worktop. Key food preparation areas looks out through the large expansive doors and windows into the garden, to form a relationship with the outside space.
Isaac requires regular physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy sessions to help him maintain mobility and allow him to develop.
In order for this to be conducted at home, Isaac now has a dedicated therapy room, which is positioned in a more private area of the home, with a separate entrance for the coming and going of various visiting therapists.
Rain sensor skylights that automatically close when they sense moisture have been installed, along with smart technology to enable Isaac to control the lighting and temperature in the home.
Thought has been given with regards to the electrical infrastructure to more easily install automated internal doors, if required in the future.
If you would like to know more about our work, please contact us.
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