Granny Pod Checklist: 12 Must-Have Features
From granny pods and cottages to in-home flats, there are universal design elements that make living comfortable, convenient and safer for aging or impaired parents or family members. Whether you’re building from scratch, remodeling a space or buying a prefab unit, strive to integrate these must-have features:
- Layout. Adopt an open layout for maximum flexibility. Throughout the space, pay attention to turning radius and allow sufficient room to maneuver a cane, walker or wheelchair when the pod or flat is furnished.
- Doors. For the exterior and interior, opt for wide doorways and doors that open fully. Choose lever or loop handles rather than knobs which can be difficult to turn.
- Thresholds. Use low or no threshold exterior door(s), and eliminate thresholds between interior spaces.
- Flooring. Choose resilient flooring materials (rubber, cork, cushioned vinyl or linoleum) to soften potential falls, or opt for low nap carpeting that works with walkers and wheelchairs.
- Walls. Install railings around the perimeter of every room.
- Electrical. Opt for large rocker-style light switches placed at an accessible height. Plan ahead and include lots of outlets at an accessible height for day-to-day needs plus medical equipment now or in the future.
- Lighting. Excellent lighting is essential for aging eyes and caregiver tasks. Install sufficient general lighting, and consider positioning lights low on the wall to illuminate the floor and any potential tripping hazards.
- Living/sleeping spaces. Incorporate sufficient floor space for furniture, mobility equipment, and potential medical equipment in the future. Simple or elaborate, make sure closets feature bright lighting, full-access doors, and rods, shelves and cubbies at convenient heights.
- Cabinets, shelves and counters. Wherever they’re installed, establish a convenient height that minimizes reaching, bending and awkward positions. Install low counters with knee space for a wheelchair user, and high counters for a tall, mobile person. Use loop handles on cupboards and drawers, they’re easier to grab.
- Kitchen. Select appliances with controls that are positioned at the front, and easy to see and use. Have them installed at a height that minimizes reaching and bending. Consider compact individual refrigerator and freezer units, since refrigerators with freezers at the top aren’t accessible to those in wheelchairs.
- Bathroom. Install an accessible bathtub and/or no-threshold shower. Modify sink height to meet your specific needs, and choose faucets with levers rather than knobs. Allow plenty of clearance for toilets, and choose a height and configuration that makes transfers easier and safer. Place grab bars and railings in strategic locations.
- Laundry. For convenience, install a compact in-unit washer and dryer.
Many of these elements reflect barrier-free or universal design principles for accessible spaces that accommodate those with physical challenges, along with the equipment they use or are likely to need. Incorporating these features will help make any granny pod more livable and functional on a day-to-day basis, whether it’s large and lavish or compact and cozy.