It is difficult to appreciate the living requirements of people to their full extent unless and until one meets the circumstances that they are experiencing. We refer to people with mobility problems in particular, which, as a result of our own recent accident have come to know. We concentrate in this article on own house design and facilities to be provided/are required.
Usually people who buy-erect their own house are on the average age of 30-40 years old, an age with limited medical and other problems and with death and other limitations seem to be a long time away.
- Ideally one should build a house at one level (ground) but then bearing in mind the small size building plots that we have (±600 sq.mts.) this takes up much more land, reducing the garden size etc than otherwise.
- You will notice however that even with single storey units, architectural features come in, such as split level floors, sunk/elevated kitchen and guest w.c., steps leading to bedrooms etc. Yes they add to the appearance but at an older age and/or with children, these steps become both problematic and dangerous. This problem escalates as age/living years is extended (expected life spam in Cyprus for men 80 years old and women 85 years old), whereas young children require increased vigilance and the installation of various gadgets (e.g. gates-cameras etc).
- As we come to know better and after the necessary installations of pools, we are now incorporating in the design private lifts. Regarding the swimming pools and with special regard to children/immobile people, the pool should have a maximum depth of 1.50-1.80 mts. at one level. No diving board and provide steps access which are better than a ramp (it takes more space) with a handle (two ideal or at least one and steps).
- Regarding access on upper/lower levels, make a provision (if not of immediate need) for a private lift (with large door opening to cater for a wheel chair). Yes it can be expensive (provision cost €10.000 and final cost €30.0000), be it a lift of hydraulic design. Alternatively and should you consider this as being expensive, opt for an electric chair which costs around €8.000, but make sure that the stairwell is wide enough for such an inclination to be accommodated.
Of course there are many other parameters that we should take into account depending on the requirements of the individual and care is required especially for buildings on uneven ground surface and the actual access to the house from the road.
As we have reported the majority of house builders/purchasers are at an age when these special facilities are not of priority, so it is reasonable that the resultant increased costs (inevitably) will not be compensated fully by a potential future buyer.
So we are getting wiser as time passes and own/others experiences are appreciated. For our part we refuse to go/visit w.cs. on 1st floor in a restaurant or in basement – not worth it, better opt for another place.