In order for homes to be advertised as wheelchair accessible, the following 6 minimum requirements must be met. These requirements define a minimum standard that serves to establish a common understanding between property sellers and seekers.

However, a home that is advertised as wheelchair accessible is still unlikely to meet all of the requirements of wheelchair users. It is therefore important to check on a case-by-case basis whether a particular home meets the specific needs of the individual, and to determine which features will still need to be adapted. A home’s observance of the six basic requirements merely ensures that it provides a minimal level of wheelchair access and thus can be considered as a possible place to live – which helps to narrow down the search field considerably.

The minimum requirements are provided solely as a basis for the assessment of wheelchair access to existing dwellings. For the planning of new residential buildings and renovations, the applicable standards and regulations must be observed.

Minimal requirements for wheelchair-accessible dwellings

The following 6 minimum requirements must be met in order for a home to be advertised as wheelchair accessible:

1. Stepless access: the entire path from the street/pavement to the dwelling’s entrance door must contain no steps

2. Lift cabin: 1.10 m wide, 1.40m deep, door width 0.8m – in older buildings, lift cabins that are 1m wide and 1.25m deep are permitted as an exception.

3. No differences in floor level inside the home: multi-storey dwellings are only considered wheelchair accessible if all levels are connected by wheelchair-friendly lifts (see 2) or platform stairlifts

4. Corridor width min. 1.20m

5. Doors to the dwelling, its rooms, toilet/bath/shower and kitchen: min. 80cm wide without thresholds: In older and small buildings, a width of 75 cm is permitted as an exception.

6. Room size for toilet/bathroom min. 1.70m x 2.20m, or room size for toilet/shower min. 1.65m x. 1.80m – at least one of these rooms must be present.

This evaluation standard for the advertising of wheelchair-accessible homes was drawn up by the Swiss Institute for handicapped-accessible building, together with specialists in property brokerage from Procap.

Zurich / Olten, December 2008

Joe A. Manser, Architect, CEO
Swiss Institute for handicapped-accessible building

Bernard Stofer, Architect
Head of Building, Housing, Traffic

Supported by: Swiss Association for Housing (SVW)

Further information about the 6 minimum requirements

The 6 minimum requirements deliberately do not go as far as the full construction standards for disability-adaptable buildings, in particular the standard SN 521 500. This is because it is much more helpful both for people with disabilities and the elderly if they have a wider range of apartments from which to choose which satisfy the essential requirements rather limit their options to the small number which are fully compliant.

Perfectly ready-made apartments which are fully wheelchair-accessible simply do not exist. Each individual will need to make modifications based on their specific needs (such as installing hand rails). We assume that the owners will consent to having such disability-related modifications (including reversing doors, changing bathrooms and kitchen, etc.) made to the apartment.

Individual modifications are usually paid through the property insurance, other insurance policies or by the tenants themselves.

Desirable additional features

The following features are very helpful in rented apartments for people with disabilities and the elderly, and are even usually mandatory in owner-occupied dwellings.

7. Wheelchair access to the patio, terrace or balcony,
ledge height max. 2.5 cm, door width min. 80 cm

8. Manoeuvring space in the kitchen min. 1.40 x 1.70 m
For kitchens with two worktops: distance between the worktops min. 1.20 m

9. Stepless access to utility room, storeroom and basement rooms
or also: washing machine/tumble dryer in the main dwelling

10. Wheelchair parking area, width 3.50 m
Stepless access from the dwelling to the parking space or garage

Procap Olten, December 2008, Bernard Stofer / Urs Schnyder

Further information: