Build Ur Own Home. Model D Self Build Home. Log Home Building

How to Build your home?

Build Custom Home / December 21, 2022

Home is supposed to be our safe space, a relaxing retreat from an unforgiving world. But for people living with a disability, home can sometimes feel more like an obstacle course — its steep steps, narrow doorways, stubborn windows, and hard-to-reach switches a constant source of challenge and frustration.

Fortunately, between new advances in home technology and a bit of forward thinking on the part of designers and architects, more people with disabilities are able to go about their daily lives at home with an impressive measure of independence. Small, thoughtful changes to a home can make it far more usable for nearly anyone, while even those with very limited mobility can now control their environments — turning off lights and appliances, opening doors, closing windows — with automated, integrated systems operated by vocal commands or even eye movements.

“People think of ramps and grab bars, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg, ” said Deborah Pierce, author of “The Accessible Home” and founding partner of Pierce Lamb Architects in Newton.

Pierce grew to appreciate the need for accessible design in the 1990s, when she was assessing public buildings for compliance with the nascent Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). “For me it was just a job until I met a man who had a spinal cord injury, and had occasion to walk through my daughter’s school with him, ” Pierce said. She realized the building presented enormous and unnecessary obstacles to him at every turn, often in subtle ways. “It was a big a-ha moment for me to see how a person in a wheelchair experiences the environment differently from me. The ADA suddenly became real, rather than just another code to comply with.”

Get The Weekender in your inbox:

The Globe's top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond.

There are nearly 800, 000 people with disabilities living in Massachusetts, about 12 percent of the state. Add to that the temporarily disabled — perhaps from a car accident, work injury, or a bad wipeout on the ski slopes — plus the aging baby boomer population, and there’s a good chance you or a family member will face at least some difficulty with everyday activities at one point in your life. That’s why, Pierce said, it can make sense for everyone to design his or her home with accessibility in mind from the start.