Safe at home with broadening horizons
Meet the Neumanns: Michelle Neumann and her husband Jason live in a ranch-style home in Kenwood OH with their 16 year-old daughter Maggie. Maggie has Spina bifida and uses a wheelchair. As a result, the Neumanns needed some accessible remodeling done. They wanted an addition for Maggie’s room to allow her safe egress out, and installation of a wheelchair lift and remodeling of the basement to give her access to the basement.
Michelle began her search for “someone with expertise in that area.” She didn’t have much luck finding an accessible remodeling expert on the internet. A family they know through the Spina-bifida association in Cincinnati has a daughter with Spina-bifida. Jeff DeVol did some work for them. They chose DeVol. “One of the things I appreciated about Jeff DeVol was they had great ideas to take our basic plan, how to make that work, and bring it to fruition,” Michelle said.
Design and plan: The Neumanns had a basic idea of what they wanted to do in their Kenwood, OH home, but not how to get it done. Many other contractors wanted to know exactly what they wanted done. Jeff DeVol came in with his architect, sat down and developed a plan to get it done. “They were able to come up with some great ideas on how to make all that work,” Michelle said. “They came up with a good place to put the wheelchair lift so it didn’t compromise any of the rest of the space in the house.”
What was done: DeVol Design.Build.Remodel of Cincinatti, OH started outside by preparing footers for the addition to Maggie’s room before cold weather came. They built the addition with exit door for egress from her room, one side is a ramp to driveway so she can get out, and the other side gets her out to a patio. “There’s a patio where she can do gardening with her dad,” said Michelle. A shaft was put in for the wheelchair lift and a contractor installed the lift giving Maggie access to the basement. They completely remade the already finished basement, installed hardwood floors, expanded the bathroom so Maggie can actually get in it, and added a stair egress off the basement. Not only that, but they met the request to make it warmer and brighter. – “It looks very nice.”
Addressing access and safety for Maggie: The primary goal from the outset was to make the home more accessible for Maggie with safety measures for all emergency possibilities. The addition to her room gets her out safely from the main floor, but the wheelchair lift did not provide direct egress out of the house. Originally they thought about a second lift. “Jeff came up with the idea of putting in a home sprinkler system,” said Michelle. “That was really, really helpful and creative in solving that issue. Another lift would have been significantly more – definitely a cost saving.” They added decking to level a drop in the basement egress so Maggie can get out without the wheelchair lift. “That’s another example of creative ideas they came up with to make our situation work in the best way possible– that’s one of the things I really appreciated, it’s kind of a theme I think.”
The process: Excellent communication was key throughout the process according to Michelle. DeVol provided a schedule ahead of time defining what to expect. The Neumanns were kept updated about what was going to happen, and who was coming on what days. They checked and opened things up at the start of the day and returned at the end of the day to make sure things were done correctly and cleaned up properly. Michelle could make one call and any issue was immediately addressed. “Very impressive,” she said. Maggie’s original room had a “popcorn ceiling” which needed to be smoothed to match the addition. That was done while they were on vacation. They intentionally scheduled disruptive work while the family was away to help keep Maggie in her room as long as possible with minimal disruption in her routine. “Anyone knows construction can be very disruptive,” said Michelle. They were very respectful of our time and space – minimally disruptive.”
For Maggie: The whole purpose was to make it work for Maggie. The Neumanns wanted it to be the best it could be for her, safe for her, that was their main concern. DeVol involved her in things, asked her what she wanted, what she wanted her room to look like, and what kind of things she wanted to be able to do. “I appreciated that as well,” Michelle said. “They were immediately sensitive to Maggie’s needs.” He had a designer that works with him help choose colors, flooring, and came up with an “art room” solution for Maggie. – “Personal touches like that are great.”
The result: It has doubled the amount of space Maggie has in the house. She was confined to the main floor. Access to the basement has opened a whole new world for her. There’s an exercise area, a punching bag for Maggie and a whole area for scrapbooking. “We go down there daily,” said Michelle. “She likes to scrapbook with me. She can go out back and garden with her dad. She couldn’t do that before.” One of Maggie’s best friends, also in a wheelchair, can now come over and join in activities in the basement. “I am incredibly pleased with how everything looks, with the process we went through – in the end, I couldn’t be happier with the work that was done.”
“All the work was very good quality. Anything that may have been an issue, just ask, it was taken care of. I think it ended up very aesthetically pleasing.”
“The one thing that attracted me right from the beginning – Jeff takes a lot of pride in his work, he’s very detailed, thorough in what he does, does whatever he can to help you and does what he says he’s going to do. Not always the case today, I really appreciate that. He did a fabulous job.”
“I would recommend Jeff for anybody. I told him I wished I had found him a long time ago for some other work we had done.”