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Special Needs Housing Adaptations

Elm Tree House, Sunderland


Update: Elm Tree House wins LABC Building Excellence Award


Special Needs Housing Adaptations, Sunderland



This was a particularly challenging project for many reasons. The existing 1958 house was unmodernised and of low architectural value. There were flat-roofed extensions at each end resulting in three different external facing bricks. The project was started in February 2012.

The house was purchased for a client who had been paralysed in an accident. He had spent 3 years in a high-dependency Nursing Home when he was awarded insurance damages which enabled a project to be developed to re-unite him with his family in his own home plus accommodation for a live-in care team. The adaptations took 22 weeks and were completed in November 2013.

The house is located very close to the client’s former home which enabled family and friends to be involved in the design process in addition to the care experts who informed the detailed design of special facilities and equipment. The ground floor adaptations in particular were designed to accommodate wheelchair access while retaining the feel of a family home. The client has his own bed-sitting room and en-suite bathroom connected by a ceiling track hoist and containing a special hi-lo bath and a flat-floor shower. The Care Suite on the first floor, comprising a single bedroom, rest-room/office and shower/WC, has independent staircase access to the Bed-sitting Room below.


Special Needs Housing Adaptations, finished



The property was extended at the front to provide an enlarged Entrance Hall with a canopy over the front door and an additional vehicular access was formed to aid external circulation and to provide safer egress onto the road. The energy conservation measures include external rendering, cavity wall insulation, additional roof insulation, triple-glazed windows, a new gas-fired central heating & hot water system, solar thermal panels and solar photovoltaic panels.

A single-storey extension at the rear provides a new Physiotherapy Room for the client’s special equipment for exercise and massage. This room has good views over the rear garden and level access to an elevated decking area which also connects directly to the client’s Bed-sitting Room. A platform lift provides wheelchair access to the rear garden.

Issues of confidentiality prevent any further details of the project to be divulged but the client, his family and care team are delighted with their new home which provides a professional level of medical care within a domestic environment .


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