A Novel Idea for MS Living: An Accessible Add-on for a House

A Novel Idea for MS Living: An Accessible Add-on for a House
When my wife and I were remodeling our two-story home many years ago, we made a few accessibility changes with my MS in mind. For example, we enlarged a first-floor half-bath to include a roll-in shower. We also installed a higher toilet and made sure there was space to fit a wheelchair next to it. If it became necessary, I could turn our first-floor den into my bedroom. It wouldn’t have been great but, if I’d needed it, it would have been OK. If I’d been doing this today, I might have done it differently. That’s because I’ve discovered a small company in Vermont that has come up with — what I think — is a better idea for accessible living. It’s called Wheel Pad — a 200-square-foot, fully accessible living area on wheels. It can be rolled up and attached to an existing home or located nearby as a stand-alone.
Wheel Pad attaced to home
A Wheel Pad attached to a home. (Courtesy of Carolyn Bates Photography)
Each Wheel Pad has space for sleeping and living and a bathroom; it’s sort of like a motel room. It’s connected to the house through an existing door and uses the original residence’s electricity supply.

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All of the outlet and light switches in the unit are designed for use by someone in a wheelchair, and the roll-in shower is slightly sloped so that water doesn’t flood the bathroom floor. A track rail can be installed on the ceiling to help the resident move between bed, bath, chair, etc.

Accessible, but is it affordable?

Wheel Pad isn’t inexpensive. The base price is $75,000. (The company says it’s selling its first 15 units for $60,000, and they have about a dozen left.) Extras, such as a larger bed, built-in lighting upgrades, composting toilet, and solar panels — well,
Bed on left, bath on right. (Courtesy of Wheel Pad)
they cost extra. Shipping from Vermont is also additional, but the unit is designed so that it can be attached to a Ford F350 type pickup truck and driven away, which would save on delivery costs. The Wheel Pad team works with the owner on permits, zoning, and other legal stuff. One of their project managers works with a local contractor to install it, which can take about a week. Wheel Pad can also be leased for about $1,500 a month, but there is a three-year minimum for the lease. Obviously, the Wheel Pad isn’t for everyone. It’s probably not affordable for many people. Others may not have a location to put a unit. One woman with MS in Alaska couldn’t find anyone who would deliver a unit to them. But she and her husband worked with the Wheel Pad architects to design an accessible home for someone locally to build. In an article on the VTDigger website, company president Julie Lineberger says: “I have met people whose bedroom is the living room. With a Wheel Pad, people have their space, their dignity, and their privacy but they can still be with family.” That’s what I love about this idea. You’re invited to follow my personal website at www.themswire.com.

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5 comments

  1. Carole says:

    Thank you for your article, Ed. The Wheel Pad would be wonderful for those who can accommodate it. Unfortunately, we live in a town home. I am not in a wheel chair and hope I never am, but my husband and I do talk about what if and what we would have to do to accommodate one.

  2. Cyndi says:

    Cool! Yes, as you note, it’s not for everyone, but I’m pleased to see creative people thinking about others with unique needs and developing alternatives that keep us in the game.
    More ideas, more options and more competition will ultimately mean better pricing too.

  3. Cris says:

    I have been living disabled for to many years and i’m always trying to find affordable ways to maneuver my life. This is kind of a joke and a rip off. I had a handicap space equivalent to this added to my house for under $35K and it is up to code. It is illegal to add a mobile home to a house in our county in Georgia. This is a mobile home even if it’s only 200 sq ft. Please before you do any add ons be sure to check out your county laws so you don’t get in trouble in the long run.

    • Ed Tobias says:

      That’s a good point, Cris. The Wheel Pad website makes it clear that they will work with a potential purchaser to research local zoning codes before a sale is finalized.

      I think the overall concept is interesting and I like to bring interesting idea to people’s attention.

      Ed

    • Cris,
      Thanks for your comments. After 2.5 years developing Wheel Pad, we continually are working toward making it more affordable. It is AMAZING you were able to have an accessible space added for $35K. That is what we thought we were going to be able to do. Wheel Pads are highly insulated for all climates, especially the NorthEast where we manufacture. All Wheel Pads have a lift track compatible with Hoyer lifts, etc. Wheel Pad is not a mobile home, it is meant to be attached to an existing home. It is simply an accessible bedroom and bathroom that meets all ADA and VA requirements. We work with every family to make sure all local laws are complied with before finalizing a sale. So far, every town we have worked with has permitted Wheel Pad. Please feel free to ask any further questions. Keeping Families Together, Julie

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