Aug 21, 2019 | By: Malaak Khattab

Bemidji Resident Designs A Home To Be Fully Accessible

“There’s a never-ending supply of people that get hurt. It’s just a fact of life, people get hurt. And there was so many of them that had a – let’s call it a traditional home, maybe it was a split-level, maybe it was a two-story, and it’s extremely difficult once you start involving stairs to start to get to different levels,” Kevin Smethers said.

A house on Sumac Road has been built with the intention to fit the needs of homeowners over time as their own livelihood starts to change. The Aging in Place Universal Design is a fully-accessible home that’s purposely built for those people in mind that need specific features to go about their day-to-day lives.

“Kevin was fantastic in understanding what a handicap person needs. It’s not something I would have thought about, but he was able to do that and I would design it with him, do the drawing on the table,” Kevin’s wife Cheryl Smethers said.

The single-story house is an open concept home that has different features that wouldn’t be found in a traditional home. Some modifications include an oversized garage to accommodate the needs of a wheelchair or walker, lower light-switches, higher power outlets, wider halls for easy mobility, sliding doors throughout the house, and wide bathrooms with a roll-in shower in the master bedroom.

“When you purpose build and you think about all this stuff up front, then you bypass a lot of those hardships that people have to deal with,” Kevin said.

Kevin’s wife Cheryl says during the design process, a couple of things came up that she wouldn’t have thought to add in the home. This included, for example, a kitchen layout to include lower cabinets, pull out storage spaces, stove controls in the front, and a microwave in the island to make it easily accessible for someone in a wheelchair.

“You have a walk-in closet, but it’s not necessarily wide enough to get a wheelchair in, and especially not to turn around. A 36” doorway, standard doorways 32”, I don’t think anything of it. You walk in and well, if you’re in a wheelchair, you need that extra space or if you’re using a walker or maybe a cane where you’re struggling a little bit, that extra space means all the difference,” Cheryl said.

The designing process began in early 2018 with construction starting in October. Kevin and Cheryl decided to design and build the accessible home because they saw a need for it in the community.

The house is currently on the market. For more information about the Aging in Place home design, call Kevin Smethers at (218) 760-2522 or email at [email protected].

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