Representing a growing constituent of families escaping the bustle of Vancouver, a professional couple with three children beat the migrating mainland crowd and relocated to a 1914 home in Fairfield a few years ago. Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, Rahul Ray was motivated to remain in the family’s coveted character home and, as a wheelchair user, make it more accessible for the long term. The couple turned to Derrick Newman, project manager at MAC Renovations to help design a barrier-free home including a rooftop addition to accommodate a three-story elevator. The outcome is 2600-square-feet of accessibility that maintains the home’s original character while providing the ability to move between indoors and out without negotiating a single obstacle.
Like most turn-of-the-century builds, steep stairs made navigating the house in a wheelchair impossible and clearly informed the couple’s design goals. As Ray states, “Multiple Sclerosis (MS) was really the inspiration for the design.” Their primary motivation was to ensure ongoing mobility without compromising the aesthetic of the recently renovated house. “The easy thing would have been to move into a rancher, but we love our home and especially the area we live in.” In forward thinking fashion, MAC Renovations recommended the family work with an occupational therapist (Claudia Walker) to shine a light on what the future with MS might look like in order to design functionality into the ergonomics of the home.
Newman adds that “the family’s design requirements stated that the elevator be discrete and sympathetic to the character elements of their home.” Beyond aesthetics, Newman adds that there were some significant engineering considerations involved with ensuring the foundation and framing were reinforced to take the additional stress an elevator puts on a structure. “Also required, was a concrete path around the perimeter of the home to provide unfettered access to all areas of the yard to ensure that Ray could play fetch with his Border Collie for years to come.”
“The family was confident in their design goals and I suppose having the ability to fully understand their needs and requirements really helped to build trust in the relationship,” says Newman. Not to mention, Newman adds that the couple’s excellent sense of humour played into the positive working relationship and consequently, the project’s success. “Renovating can be stressful business and being able to laugh makes work more fun. Their trust in our ability to execute the renovation was inspiring. I suppose it was a combination of professionalism, value engineering, technical know-how and personal compatibility that made them choose MAC Renovation for the project.”
The addition to the roof created access to the elevator as well as extra space for the master bedroom and walk-in closet. “The elevator allows me to access all areas of the house, to play with my kids and not feel limited. We chose MAC Renovations because they were practical, insightful, and solution-oriented,” says Ray.