Lawmakers consider rules that would add accessibility to new homes

Many people in Hawaii would like to age in place at home. But it’s not always easy.

A city councilman is hoping to change that, by encouraging the city to think about changing the requirements for new homes.

According to council member Brandon Elefante, by the year 2030, nearly a quarter of Hawaii’s population will be over the age of 65. he says now is a good time to look at how homes can be built to make sure that population can keep living comfortably in their homes for years to come. “Many people today folks really want to age in place and stay in their own homes rather than move out of their homes and these standards would help them to look at what would be a safe environment for them to live in their own homes.”

Elefante says he wants to the city to consider changing the building code by requiring certain standards for new homes. “So ADA is not specifically required in new construction and the standards are currently not in place yet but we would look at access for someone that may be wheelchair-bound people that may have mobility issues as they access their home and they should be standards.”

Some of the standards Elefante is proposing include one entrance into the home at ground level with no steps, 32-inch doors instead of the traditional 30, and one wheelchair accessible full bath on the main floor. Hallways would also be built wide to accommodate wheelchair access. Randy Kim works for Atlas Construction, one of Hawaii’s builders. He says adding these standards could be costly. “So if you’re going to use more materials or you’re going to use more labor to get this implemented then yes it’s going to raise the cost.”

Kim says Hawaii’s unique landscape could pose a challenge to builders who are trying to design under these proposed set of rules. “It’s just really trying to paint a broad stroke with something that is very complicated as far as the whole design process, being that we’re a design and build contractor we go through this step-by-step through every job that we design and build for families.”

If the resolution is adopted the city would then have 60 days to report back to the council with it’s recommendations about the possible new standards.

To view the resolution, click here.

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