' the Woodlouse: Future-proofing and car crashes


Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Future-proofing and car crashes

We've had a change of plan about the massage treatment room which outwardly may not be very exciting but it was something that had been increasingly niggling at me, starting to consume a disproportionate amount of nervous energy, and turning mild concerns into raging anxieties.  Possibly the most absurd of these escalated worries stemmed from the fact that my clients tend to be a touch spaced out after a massage, coupled by the fact that most would drive to appointments: would I indirectly be the cause of hideous car-crashes as floaty-headed clients headed out into the tiny rural lanes, their response times fatally compromised? Well, probably not.  As a massage-therapist friend pointed out "most of my massages are where they come to me and they have to drive. I haven't yet heard that anyone has had a crash!".  I think this was an example of other underlying and more sensible worries getting randomly focused on that one idea, preventing me from having to deal with the real issues.

So the treatment room has now left the building.  I feel a huge relief about it actually.  The reasoning is that currently virtual all my massage business is home-visits: me taking my portable couch to peoples' houses, massaging them, and then leaving them to flake out happily in their own space without having to worry about going anywhere.  I like the idea of everyone coming to me so that I get to stay in one place but I have to accept reality, and for clients it does make a lot of sense to have a massage at home.  I can still rent time in a clinic in the town centre when needed, and that has the advantage of indeed being central.  At least then even when clients come by car they can more easily combine the journey with other errands in town, hopefully slightly cutting down extraneous car journeys relating to my massage business.  The original idea was also that I would rent out our treatment room to other therapists when I wasn't using it, but that isn't really feasible in the quiet residential street the bungalow is on.  The extra traffic and parking generated could be a prime way to begin to upset neighbours, and on principle I want to avoid encouraging extra car-journeys.

Position of masonry heater leaves room for stairs to be added from hallway to loft if needed later.  Entrance to conservatory shows a level threshold, necessary to ensure disabled access into and throughout home.

Removing the treatment room from the plans makes things much simpler and allows much better use of space.  Previously, my office was going to be pushed up into the loft, which required some complicated and restrictive space-squeezing in order to fit in some stairs.  It could have worked, but only by creating a slightly boxy spare room, which can now retain its full size.  We'll try and maintain future flexibility by not building anything/designing layout that would prevent the loft being used later.  I can always use the spare room for occasional massage clients if needed.

Another important bit of future-proofing in the design, is to ensure that everything we do allows for wheelchair access, or at worst allows for easy adaptation for it if ever required later.  It is much easier to build that capability in during construction/refurbishment than to have to force it in later.  The Lifetime Homes Standard specifies design criteria that provide a model for building accessible and adaptable homes.  Most are straightforward, such as level thresholds, entrance ramps, and ensuring hallways, corridors and doorways allow sufficient space to manoeuvre a wheelchair (and a self-propelled wheelchair crucially - so many disabled facilities seem to forget to allow room for a wheelchair user's elbows and fingers as they grip the wheels to propel themselves around).  Currently neither of us need a wheelchair at home but who knows what will happen in the future.  Anna does often need to use a wheeled walking aid at home, so free and easy access around the place with that is a must.  In any case, thinking about these things now allows provision to be built-in, making it better integrated practically and aesthetically.

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