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ADA Compliant Kitchen Remodeling

When Nancy Smith first glimpsed the Minnetonka condomonium during her house hunt nearly four years ago the first thing that caught her eye was the “big, beautiful deck,” she said.

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That deck was enough to overcome an interior not conducive for someone in a wheelchair seeking independent living. There was plush carpet — difficult to traverse in a wheelchair — along with a bathroom with a step-in bath/shower “that I can’t step in to.” Then there was the kitchen. “Think of a 1980s condo with those tiny little kitchens,” she said. “That’s what it was.”

In addition to being enclosed and small, the kitchen had two narrow openings and a table that dominated what open space there was. “It was very difficult to turn around in,” Smith said.

She replaced the flooring and remodeled the bathroom, but wasn’t able to renovate the kitchen to meet her accessibility needs at the same time.

That changed after several years and when Smith learned she qualified for help in remodeling and retrofitting her kitchen to help her live independently. To qualify the project needed to meet the standards of the Americans With Disability Act.

She received a list of contractors vetted for the specialized ADA compliance work and “I called (Lindee Construction.) Dave answered the phone and it was as simple as that,” she said.

Lindee’s owner Dave Kuennen met with Smith, discussed what she sought from her kitchen renovation and drew up ADA-compliant plans that received Smith’s OK. “Dave thought of everything,” Smith said.

Less than a month from the start of construction Smith was using her kitchen for cooking, eating meals with her son, cleaning up on her own and loading her dishwasher.

“Last night I made macaroni and cheese for my son, something I hadn’t been able to do in years,” she said. “We ate together at our table and he said it was the best mac and cheese he’s ever had.”

Kuennen said that ADA compliant projects are unique given that the needs of each client dictate the design. In Smith’s case that included ensuring she had an ADA compliant kitchen design to ensure her left side was situated to take the most actions such as using a faucet or stove top.

The project centered around providing Smith independent accessibility to her kitchen, so Kuennen’s remodel design removed the walls that enclosed the kitchen and expanded the kitchen’s footprint allowing her to move in and out of the space with ease.

A section of countertop was lowered and left vacant beneath to give Smith access to a workspace. The counter stovetop was positioned for ease of access from the workspace. The kitchen sink and dishwasher were placed to make them both more easily reached and working better in tandem for someone requiring wheelchair access.

“We make sure the drawers have proper handles so they can be opened with ease,” said Keunnen. “And we build cabinet doors that opened the drawers behind them when the door is opened” to limit the number of actions needed to access stored items.

One reason for Lindee Construction’s expertise with ADA compliant construction is that the company is a certified health care contractor trained for construction work in sensitive spaces.

“We monitor the air quality before, during and after a project,” Kuennen said. “And we use HEPA air filters and controlled containment to keep construction debris and contaminants from non-construction areas.”

The project was finished in early August. “I’m still acclimating to it,” Smith said. “But I already can tell it will lighten the load for the people who help me.”

While the project is helping Smith live more independently, it provided her more than just accessibility.

“What is great is that he not only made it accessible, but did it with an appearance that is beautiful,” she said.