ADA and Wheelchair Accessible Hallways and Doorways - What to Look For in Your New Home

Home Builder with Stanton Homes - New Home Builder

ADA and Wheelchair Accessible Hallways and Doorways


What is an Accessible Home?

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?"

This is a great question to ask before you start building your new home.  Some homebuyers ask this question because a family member currently needs wheelchair accessibility.  Some are buying a home for their retirement and want to include some "aging in place" features, like wider doorways that will be able to accomodate a scooter or wheelchair in the years ahead if needed. 

Minimum Hallway and Doorway Width Requirements

Custom Home Builders - Wheelchair Accessible Homes - ADA and Specially Adapted HousingBoth 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?  Depends on what 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.
  • The minimum passage width for one wheelchair and one ambulatory person is 48 inches.
  • Many mobility scooters are as narrow as 21". 

Other Doorway Options

If the buyers 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 someone is planning to build with a Specially Adapted Housing Grant, they are required to include 48" hallways, whether they feel they are needed or not.  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". 

Custom Home Builders - Wheelchair Accessible Homes - ADA and Specially Adapted Housing





Above is an example of a portion of a floor plan that we can adapt to fit requirements.  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 My Hallways Be Widened, and When is the Best Time to Plan for This?

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 made to the plan, the more cost effective those changes will be.  At Stanton Homes, we are able to make almost all changes in house, 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. 



You may also be interested in these Raleigh accessible home information resources:ADA and Wheelchair Accessible Homes | New Homes Raleigh NC | Hallways and Doorways

Raleigh NC Accessible Homes - Accessible Builders in Raleigh

Accessible Homes - Design and Features

What is Universal Design?  Easy Living Homes

Specially Adapted Housing - Grants for Veterans

Building a Home with the VA's Specially Adapted Housing Program

Virtual Tours - See This Week's Most Exceptional Homes


Thinking of building a new home in the Raleigh area? There are many great places to live near Raleigh, including Angier, Apex, Bear Creek, Cary, Chatham County, Fuquay-Varina, Garner, Holly Springs, Knightdale, Lillington, Morrisville, Pittsboro, Rolesville, Sanford, Siler City, Silk Hope, Wake Forest, and Wendell.



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Comments (4)

Charlie Ragonesi - Big Canoe, GA
Homes - Big Canoe, Jasper, North Georgia Pros

Great post and something we all need to klnow about

Jun 20, 2008 01:11 AM
Stanton Homes
Stanton Homes - New Home Builder - Raleigh, NC
Design/Build Custom Home Builder in North Carolina

Charlie - As in most things, it helps to ask questions before a project is started.  We're happy to answer any questions about ADA or wheelchair accessibility so that homebuyers are comfortable with the process, no matter who they choose to build their home.

Jun 20, 2008 06:12 AM
Mark P. Felton
Front Porch Homes - Waco, TX
Waconulls Premiere Custom Builder

Great info on converting plans to meet ADA standards.  Just what I was looking for.

Jan 26, 2009 11:26 AM
Stanton Homes
Stanton Homes - New Home Builder - Raleigh, NC
Design/Build Custom Home Builder in North Carolina

Mark - glad to help.  It takes some experience in modifications, and possibly engineering approval or the help of an architect, but most plans can be adapted!

Jan 27, 2009 09:27 PM