The idea is to reduce the number of walls, doors and openings, and in the kitchen this means no splashback.
A person in a wheelchair also needs to be able to reach things, so for example in the kitchen the wall oven is set lower, there are pull down pantry drawers and pull out storage enabling access from either side, and in the laundry there are under-bench appliances.
Of course, being more than one level, the home has an internal lift. For the O’Sheas it was the first time they had used a steel shaft, and with the lift ordered months in advance from Italy there was no room for error in the measurements.
‘You need to be millimetre perfect to be plumb,’ Nick explains. ‘You can’t wait till you get the lift. You’ve got to get it right first go. It has to be all flush.’
There also needed to be smooth transitions between the inside and outside, with step ups and step downs eliminated so a wheelchair can cross easily.
Nicks says rebating door jambs and inserting doors into the ground and floors all make for easier maintenance. Concrete outside allow easy movement for a wheelchair but that and artificial turf also make for easy maintenance.
A six-star energy rating keeps running costs down, and includes R2.5 wall insulation, solar panels ducted airconditioning, tinted windows and doors, a northerly orientation, and a design that promotes air flow and directs light through the house.
There are plenty of high and louvred windows to let the light and air in and bi-fold doors open up the rear of the house, with a retractable screen to keep out insects.
‘It’s important to have air flow and light through a house to make sure it’s comfortable in summer and winter,’ Nick says.