New Handicap Bathroom
While we were finishing up creating the new parsonage above the Carriage House, and before beginning renovations of the second parsonage, the Trustees asked us if we would look at the bathrooms in the main Church building across from the Sanctuary. The bathrooms dated to the Church construction back in 1967 and were without any facility for handicap persons. The desire was to create a handicap accessible option.
We knew this was a tough assignment. Handicap bathroom options there had been studied before by others. The best suggestion to date cost in the $80,000 range and was substantially invasive to surrounding spaces.
We agreed to have a look, but did not promise to stumble on some overlooked silver bullet. So, we brought our design process to bear on the puzzle with each of us praying to be blessed with a piece of the solution. We went through much iteration and finally came up with a good plan which met nearly all of the guidelines for accessible bathrooms.
Novel “puzzle pieces” which bubbled up in our deliberations that allowed us to succeed included: Designing the new bathroom as a handicap stall rather than a whole bathroom (a stall need only be 5 ft square), installing a wall mounted toilet instead of a conventional floor toilet (which allowed one of the 5 ft dimensions to be reduced to 56”, and inventing and constructing a strategically located one inch thick veneered plywood wall (in place of a 6 inch masonry wall).
The compromise we had to make was sneaking in a little handicap compliant sink into the stall which makes rear entry necessary for maneuverability by wheelchairs. With this plan we were able to end up with a ladies room, a men’s room, a janitor’s closet AND a handicap bathroom in the same space where before there had only been the first three. Most of the space was taken from the men’s room which did lose one stall in the process.
We gave the ladies and men’s rooms major facelifts in the process including new fixtures, tile trim and paint. All this we were able to achieve on schedule for under $25,000 with out ever being with out an operable bathroom for either sex. It was our volunteer work force and Spirit driven process that made this possible.
People with accessibility issues are jubilant. We love working on a Church!