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Accessible Homes: Width Requirements for Hallways and Doorways

Posted by Penny Hull on Tue, Jan 25, 2011 @ 06:01 AM

Tips for Building or Remodeling an Accessible Home

Hallway and Doorway Requirements for Accessible Homes

We were recently asked this question: "What does it take to make sure a new home plan will have wide enough hallways and doorways for a wheelchair or mobility device?"

This is a great question to ask before you even choose the floor plan for your new accessible home.

Accessible Homes Hallway Width | NC Accessible Home BuildersSome homebuyers ask this question because a family member needs wheelchair accessibility. Some are buying their retirement home and want to include some Universal Design features, like wider doorways that will be able to accomodate a scooter or wheelchair in the years ahead should it ever be needed.  And some are just looking at higher resale marketibility.   

Minimum Hallway and Doorway Width Requirements for Accessible Homes

Both ADA requirements and Specially Adapted Housing Minimum Property Requirements specify a minimum hallway width of 48", with a minimum doorway width of 36".

Standard doorways in a new home are usually either 2'4", 2'6" or 2'8" wide, and according to North Carolina building code, the minimum width of a hallway is 36".

How wide should the doorways and hallways be in your home?

The width you need depends on the kind of access you're looking for.

  • Minimum clear width for a wheelchair is 36 inches for a hall and 32 inches for a door.
  • Minimum clear space for a T-shaped turn of 180 degrees is 36 inches in all directions.
  • Minimum passage width for one wheelchair and one ambulatory person is 48 inches.

Many mobility scooters are as narrow as 21".

Other Doorway Width Options for New Homes:

If you simply want wider doorways, but are not as concerned about having a 48" wide hallway, there may be some options that don't require significant structural changes.

And it's MUCH less expensive to plan for wider doorways before construction starts than to try to retrofit hallways and doorways later.

  • A 3'2" wide hallway will allow a 36" door, but there will be no room for trim - this isn't ideal.
  • A 3'8" width works well for a 36" door, and allows 2 1/4" trim, or casing, around the doorway.
  • A 3'10" width is ideal for a 36" door, as it allows 3 1/4" casing around the doorway.

However, if you are planning to build with a Specially Adapted Housing Grant for Veterans, you are required to include 48" hallways.   Not only that, there must be enough space to "allow for maneuverability through the hall and into all rooms, including bedrooms, bathrooms, and ingress/egress routes".

Here's an example of a portion of a floor plan that does not currently meet accessible requirements, but can be adapted.

Accessible Homes Hallway Width | NC Accessible Home Builders

This hallway is currently 3'4" wide, which won't accomodate a larger door - and the powder room is too narrow for a wheelchair to enter.

How Can Hallways and Doorways Be Widened, and When Should Design Changes Be Made?

In most cases, wider hallways means adding more square footage to the home, but we are usually able to make these additions at a very minimum cost.

Here we would need to expand both the hallway and the powder room itself - which is a possibility in this case, as the upper wall is an exterior wall.

Each plan is different. The fewer changes that need to be NC Accessible Home Builders | Accessible Home Hallways and Doorsmade to the plan, the more cost effective those changes will be.

At Stanton Homes, we are able to make almost all changes using our design team, which can reduce the cost of making a new home wheelchair accessible.

Ask your builder if they can make your new home wheelchair accessible, or if changing doors to a 36" width is a possibility. Or bring us any plans that you're considering, and we'll be happy to recommend which would work best and what changes might be required.

Find Out More About Universal Design and Accessible Homes:

How to Get Started Looking for an Accessible Home

What is Universal Design, and how does it make living easier?

Laundry Rooms Designed for Easy Use

Top 10 Kitchen Tips - Universal Design

Specially Adapted Housing Grants for Veterans


Tags: accessible homes, accessible home design, nc accessible home builders, accessible home requirements, hallway width