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ADA Requirements for Homes: Standards and Compliance

When we refer to ADA requirements for homes, it encompasses residential units designed or modified to be physically accessible to people with disabilities. These accommodations are essential for ensuring that people who face mobility or other physical challenges can live safely and comfortably.

These standards predominantly impact key areas of a home, including the doors, bathrooms, and other living spaces, with the goal of making them more accessible and navigable.

For homeowners, builders, or anyone involved in residential construction or renovations, it’s essential to understand these requirements. This is not because ADA requirements are legally required for residential spaces, but because they can help create environments that are more comfortable and inclusive.

The only time that a home or residential space is legally required to meet ADA requirements is if it’s used as a public accommodation.

At the end of this guide, you’ll be able to download a handy checklist that you can use to ensure your home aligns with the latest ADA standards.

What Are The ADA Requirements for Homes?

Let’s get into the specifics of what’s required in a home to align a space with the latest ADA requirements. We will cover the main areas in a home that would impact people with various disabilities.

Infographic: ADA requirements for home


ADA doorway requirements will apply to any doors on the interior or exterior of a home.

Accessible doors primarily benefit people who use wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility devices, as well as those with limited strength or dexterity, such as older adults or residents with disabilities that affect their hand function.

To make a home’s doors more accessible to the disabled, here are the requirements that need to be met:

  • Doorway Thresholds: Thresholds at doorways must be no higher than ½ inch (1.27 cm). For exterior sliding doors, a threshold of up to ¾ inch (1.9 cm) is required. These thresholds must be beveled with a slope no greater than 1:2 to allow for easier wheelchair passage.
  • Door Handles: Door handles, pulls, latches, and locks must be usable with one hand without someone needing to tightly grasp, pinch, or twist their wrist. Lever-operated, push-type, and U-shaped handles are recommended because they are easier for people with limited hand function to use.
  • Door Hardware: Similar to door handles, hardware such as deadbolts must also be operable with one hand and should not require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting. The hardware should be positioned at an accessible height, generally between 34 inches (86.36 cm) and 48 inches (121.92 cm) above the floor.
  • Door Clearance and Opening/Closing Force: The minimum clear width for household doorways must be 32 inches (81.28 cm) when the door is open to 90 degrees, to accommodate wheelchair access. Doors should also be easy to open and close, with a maximum opening force of 5 pounds (2.27 kg) for interior doors. This helps people with limited strength or dexterity.
  • Door Sidelights: If sidelights are used, they must not interfere with the maneuverability or operation of a door.
  • Front Door Stoops: Stoops should be designed to minimize any change in level. The entrance should be on an accessible route and, ideally, flush with or connected via a ramp to the main ground level if elevation differences exist.
  • Exterior Door Thresholds: As with interior thresholds, exterior door thresholds must be minimized as much as possible. They should not exceed ¾ inch (1.9 cm) in height for sliding doors or ½ inch (1.27 cm) for other types of doors and must be beveled if they exceed ¼ inch (0.64 cm).

General Living Spaces

Next, let’s look at the ADA requirements that would apply to general living spaces such as living rooms, hallways, and dining rooms.

People who rely on wheelchairs, walkers, or those who have difficulty with balance and coordination benefit from ADA-related adjustments at home, including wider doorways, lower window sills, and accessible controls, as do those with visual impairments.

As mobility and flexibility decrease with age, elderly people also benefit from features such as lower light switches, reachable outlets, and non-slip flooring.

When it comes to adjusting the living spaces in a home, here are some of the ADA-related adjustments to be aware of:

  • Carpet Backings: Carpets in accessible areas must be firmly attached and have a pile height of no more than 1/2 inch (1.27 cm) to allow for easy wheelchair movement. The carpet must be low-pile and tightly woven to prevent resistance against wheels or mobility aids.
  • Interior Hallways: Hallways must be wide enough to accommodate wheelchair passage. This means maintaining a minimum clear width of 36 inches (91.44 cm). Adequate turning spaces at the ends of hallways and intersections are also required to ensure easy navigation.
  • Window Sills: The height of window sills should also be considered to ensure visibility for people in wheelchairs. In an accessible home, window sills should not be higher than 36 inches (91.44 cm) from the floor.
  • Window Controls: Window controls must be operable with one hand and should not require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist. These controls should also be placed within reachable heights, typically between 15 inches (38.1 cm) and 48 inches (121.92 cm) above the floor, to accommodate both standing and seated users.
  • Electrical Outlets: Outlets should be positioned at a height that is reachable for both seated and standing individuals. The recommended mounting height for electrical outlets is generally between 15 inches (38.1 cm) and 48 inches (121.92 cm) above the floor.
  • Light Switches: Like electrical outlets, light switches should be accessible and easy to operate. They should be placed at a height of 40 inches (101.6 cm) to 48 inches (121.92 cm) from the floor and should not require tight grasping or pinching to operate.


Bedrooms are an area people spend a lot of time in, which is why there are a number of ADA requirements that apply to this space.

Accessible bedrooms are designed to assist people with a range of disabilities, including those with mobility impairments and reduced hand dexterity.

These modifications are also ideal for homes with older adults and residents with sensory disabilities.

Here are some of the ADA-related modifications to consider:

  • Bedroom Doors and Handles: Doors to bedrooms should have a minimum clear width of 32 inches (81.28 cm) when the door is open to 90 degrees. Handles should be operable with one hand and shouldn’t require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting. Lever handles are a better option than knobs.
  • Pathways Around the Bed: There should be enough space around the bed to allow a wheelchair user to move comfortably. Typically, a minimum pathway of 36 inches (91.44 cm) is required around the bed to accommodate a wheelchair.
  • Mattresses: While the ADA does not specify requirements for mattresses, the height of the bed should be considered to facilitate wheelchair users. Mattresses should ideally be no higher than 22 inches (55.88 cm) from the floor.
  • Ceilings: If a bedroom is equipped with a ceiling lift, the ceiling must be structurally capable of supporting the lift. There should also be adequate clearance for the operation of the lift.
  • Thermostats, Drapery Wands, and Lamp Controls: Thermostats should be placed no higher than 48 inches (121.92 cm) from the floor and must be operable with one hand. Controls for draperies and lamps should also be easily accessible for people with limited reach and dexterity.
  • Closet Doors: Closet doors should also comply with the general requirements for doors, including accessible handles and a clear opening width. Sliding doors or bifold doors can often be easier for someone with a disability to operate.
  • Closet Rods and Shelving: Closet rods should be placed at an accessible height with lower settings at around 48 inches (121.92 cm) from the floor. Adjustable rods are ideal. Shelving should also be within reach for a seated person and not exceed 48 inches (121.92 cm) in height.


Bathrooms are spaces where the most ADA requirements are applicable.

Accessible bathrooms benefit a wide range of individuals, including those with mobility impairments, balance and coordination issues, older adults, and anyone with temporary injuries.

Here are the ADA requirements to keep in mind if you want to make a residential bathroom more accessible:

  • Bathroom Doors: Doors must be wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs. They should have a minimum clear opening of 32 inches (81.28 cm) when the door is open 90 degrees. Doors should swing outward or be sliding to maximize interior space.
  • Bathroom Door Handles: Handles must be operable with one hand and should not need a user to grapes, pinch, or twist it. Lever handles are the better choice.
  • Grab Bars: Grab bars are essential for safety in the bathroom and should be installed by the toilet, in the shower, and near the bathtub. They must be sturdy, with standard dimensions and placement to support a significant amount of weight. Grab bars should be mounted between 33 and 36 inches (83.82 and 91.44 cm) above the floor.
  • Toilets: The height of the toilet seat should be between 17 to 19 inches (43.18 and 48.26 cm) from the floor, which is more accessible for people in wheelchairs. Space around the toilet should allow for easy side or front transfer from a wheelchair.
  • Sinks: Sinks should not be mounted higher than 34 inches (86.36 cm) from the floor, and there should be clearance underneath for knee space if the sink is used from a seated position. Faucets should be lever-operated, push, touch, or electronically controlled.
  • Towel Bars: Towel bars should be within reach from the sink, shower, or bathtub, and no higher than 48 inches (121.92 cm) from the floor.
  • Medicine Cabinet Shelving: Shelving in medicine cabinets should be accessible and no higher than 48 inches (121.92 cm) from the floor to ensure that people with limited reach can access stored items.
  • Showers: Showers should have a roll-in capability with no curb, or a low curb of 1/2 inch (1.27 cm) or less for wheelchair access. A shower seat and adjustable/hand-held shower heads are recommended for residents who cannot stand.
  • Baths: Bathtubs should have grab bars, and there should be enough clearance around the tub to allow for transfers. A seat inside the tub can also help, as well as a hand-held showerhead.


The final area in a home that you can make ADA-related adjustments to is the kitchen.

Accessible kitchens benefit people who rely on wheelchairs or other mobility aids. Features such as lower countertops and appliances, and accessible cabinets and sinks are especially beneficial.

Older adults, people living with temporary injuries, and those with limited dexterity also benefit from features such as side-mounted faucets and easy-to-operate appliance controls and cabinet handles.

If you want to make a residential kitchen more accessible, here are some ADA requirements to keep in mind:

  • Shelving: Adjustable shelving is recommended to accommodate different reach ranges and abilities. Shelves in upper cabinets should be accessible from a seated position, which means they shouldn’t be higher than 48 inches (121.92 cm) from the floor.
  • Cabinets: Lower cabinets should provide knee space to allow a person in a wheelchair to approach the work area. The knee space should ideally be at least 30 inches (76.2 cm) wide and 27 inches (68.58 cm) high. Handles and pulls on cabinets should be easy to grasp without requiring tight pinching or wrist twisting.
  • Countertops: Countertop heights should be around 34 inches (86.36 cm) from the floor, rather than the standard 36 inches (91.44 cm), to accommodate wheelchair users. Providing a section of countertop at this reduced height with knee space underneath makes food preparation and other tasks easier to do from a seated position.
  • Faucets: Lever-operated, push-type, touch, touchless, or electronically controlled faucets are recommended as they are easier for people with limited hand dexterity to use. The faucet should also be mounted on the side of the sink to make it easier to reach from a seated position.
  • Sink: The kitchen sink should be shallow to make space for knee clearance underneath if accessed from a seated position. The depth should not exceed 6.5 inches (16.51 cm), and the sink should have insulated pipes to prevent burns. The sink area should also include clear floor space to allow a person using a wheelchair to approach and use the sink comfortably.
  • Appliances: Dishwashers should be easy to access from the front. Microwaves should also be placed at counter height or lower to ensure they are reachable for a person in a wheelchair. Consideration should be given to the placement of all appliances to ensure they are easily accessible without the need to reach or bend too much.
  • Kitchen Exhaust Fan: Controls for the exhaust fan should be placed at a reachable height, typically no higher than 48 inches (121.92 cm) off the floor, and operable with minimal force.

Final Thoughts

Unless a home is a public accommodation, ADA compliance is not a legal requirement. However, making adjustments to a space that is home to someone with disabilities can make a considerable difference to their quality of life.

To make home renovations easier, download our ADA Requirements for Homes checklist here.


The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) has specific requirements that apply to multifamily housing to ensure accessibility for individuals with disabilities. These requirements are largely enforced under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) for residential buildings, and some additional ADA requirements may apply to public and common-use areas within these buildings.

  • Building Entrances: At least one building entrance must be on an accessible route and be easily reachable from public transportation stops, accessible parking, and accessible pedestrian routes.
  • Accessible Public and Common Use Areas: All public and common-use areas must be accessible. This includes lobbies, mailrooms, laundry rooms, and recreational areas like pools and fitness centers.
  • Doors: Doors require a minimum clear opening width of 32 inches (81.28 cm) with the door open 90 degrees.
  • Accessible Routes: There must be accessible routes throughout the facility. This includes doorways, hallways, and corridors that accommodate wheelchairs and other mobility aids, with at least 36 inches (91.44 cm) of clear width.
  • Accessible Units: In buildings with four or more units and an elevator, all units must be accessible. In buildings without an elevator, all ground-floor units must be accessible.
  • Kitchens and Bathrooms: Accessible units must have kitchens and bathrooms that allow for wheelchair movement. This includes lowered countertops and sinks, accessible appliances, and reinforced walls for the future installation of grab bars.
  • Environmental Controls: Environmental controls such as thermostats and light switches must be placed at accessible heights, generally no higher than 48 inches (121.92 cm) from the floor.

Yes, ADA-compliant units in multifamily housing need to have bathrooms that are accessible to people with disabilities. Key features of an ADA-compliant bathroom typically include:

  • Space for Maneuvering: The bathroom must have sufficient space for a wheelchair to enter and maneuver. This usually means a clear floor space of at least 30 inches (76.2 cm) by 48 inches (121.92 cm) that allows for a forward or parallel approach to bathroom fixtures.
  • Accessible Toilet: The toilet should have a seat height typically between 17 to 19 inches (43.18 and 48.26 cm) from the floor, and there should be adequate space around the toilet for a wheelchair to approach. Grab bars must be installed on the walls near the toilet to assist with transfers.
  • Accessible Sink and Vanity: The sink should be mounted at a height that is accessible from a seated position (no higher than 34 inches (86.36 cm) from the floor) and should provide knee clearance.
  • Grab Bars: Grab bars are essential for safety and must be installed in the shower and near the toilet.
  • Shower and/or Bathtub: Roll-in showers or tubs with seats are required in accessible bathrooms. Showers should have a flat entrance without a curb or with a very low curb to allow wheelchair access. Hand-held showerheads and easy-to-operate controls are also important features.
  • Clearance: Doorways should be at least 32 inches (81.28 cm) wide when doors are open at 90 degrees, and there should be enough clearance for a wheelchair to turn around. A 60-inch (152.4 cm) diameter of unobstructed turning space is suggested.

An ADA-compliant unit requires doors that meet specific accessibility standards. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Minimum Width: Doors must have a minimum clear opening width of 32 inches (81.28 cm) when the door is open to 90 degrees.
  • Thresholds: Door thresholds should be as flush as possible and not exceed 1/2 inch (1.27 cm) in height for exterior doors. They should also be beveled if they are higher than 1/4 inch (0.64 cm).
  • Hardware: Door handles, pulls, latches, and locks, and other operable devices shouldn’t be mounted higher than 48 inches (121.92 cm) above the floor and must be operable with one hand.
  • Opening Force: The ADA specifies that the force to open a door should not exceed 5 pounds (2.27 kg) for interior doors.
  • Closing Speed: Doors that close automatically must do so slowly enough to allow safe passage. The closing speed should be adjustable, with at least 5 seconds from an open position of 90 degrees to 12 degrees from the latch, ensuring it does not close too quickly.
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