Langley’s Janet and Tim Kreiter had undertaken one renovation a decade ago to ensure their home could accommodate daughter Erin’s wheelchair. The PhD student had spent nearly a year in hospital after contracting Myasthenia gravis, a neuromuscular disorder that had left her a quadriplegic and requiring 24-hour care.
This year, the Kreiters are undertaking a second renovation with a new goal: to ensure their home offers universal accessibility not only for Erin’s needs today, but for the family’s needs tomorrow – whatever they may be. The idea of aging in place for all family members is key.
This renovation requires far more than simply ensuring doorways and flooring can accommodate Erin’s wheelchair. And that’s where Stephen Tomes, owner of Kingsmere Construction and New Trendz Flooring and More comes in.
A licensed general contractor who also serves with the Home Inspection Association of BC and works with the province on the BC Step Code, Tomes is working with the Kreiters to ensure the structural elements are in place – things like adequate ceiling supports for Erin’s transfer lift that lets her access the bathtub – but also sourcing specialized products like voice-activated faucets and showerheads that offer greater independence and ease of use.
“The most amazing thing Stephen did was to close his store an hour early so we could come in, and ask his staff to ensure the whole place was navigable for Erin,” Janet says, pointing out that the universal accessibility encompasses so much more than ramp access and doorways; it’s about designing spaces so that all people can manoeuvre corners, reach faucets and access the outdoors, for example.
Once in the New Trendz store, where Tomes had mapped out the bathtub, sink and other features of Erin’s bathroom in one of the room displays, it was clear her wheelchair wouldn’t fit and adjustments needed to be made.
Other considerations included specialized tile flooring, which Tomes worked on with the manufacturer to ensure it would accommodate both the weight and movement of the wheelchair, and the wet nature of the bathroom, while still offering the non-institutional style Erin wanted.
Additional hidden elements can be called upon should Janet, Tim or other family member need greater accessibility later in life, like wall-mounted braces or a removable shower door. “They’ll all be camouflaged, but there if we ever need them,” Janet says.
Because Erin is also severely immuno-compromised, Tomes has undertaken steps with staff and trades teams to keep her protected from outside infection as the planning and renovation moves along.
“It’s so thoughtful. It takes something as monumental as this renovation and makes it so much easier,” Janet says. “What he is offering in terms of service is one-of-a-kind.”
Tomes appreciates the opportunity to put his own experience to work for Kreiters.
“To be able to problem solve and find solutions that will create a home that works for their whole family is just so rewarding,” he says.
Building knowledge and awareness from this experience will also benefit other families later, Janet suggests. “I would like to think it will make a big difference to other people too.”
To learn more about renovation and home improvement solutions for your home and commercial spaces, visit the NewTrendz showroom today at #101 – 20579 Langley Bypass, call them at