Family’s Lockport Home Remodeled to Accommodate Disabled Sons

May 10, 2010

After two of Mike and Karen Weber’s three children recently developed Friedreich’s Ataxia, an inherited neurological condition that hinders their ability to walk, they knew it was time to renovate their Lockport home and make it more accessible. Choosing the best remodeler for the job was the easy part: After all, they thought, who better to modernize their two-step ranch than the professionals who built it for them back in 1992?

Mike and Karen Weber in their Lockport home.

Faced with the task up retrofitting their residence for wheelchair access and greater ease of use in key living areas, the family contacted Mike Carroll and Bryan Nooner of Distinctive Remodelers in Orland Park after reading about them in a newspaper article. Carroll and Nooner had constructed the Webers’ home 18 years ago when they operated a different homebuilding firm, so it made sense to hire them again, especially considering their familiarity with the home.

“At first, we were thinking of installing a room addition and bumping out our square footage, but it would have been too expensive and overpriced our home for this market,” said Mike Weber, an auto auction manager. “Mike Carroll convinced us that we could use and improve our existing space, which would save us big money and help us fulfill our needs.”

The Webers had several goals going into the project: They wanted to build a wheelchair ramp in the rear of the home for convenient back-door access; they desired a larger, more flexible bathroom for their boys with a new, easy-to-use walk-in shower and lavatory; and they needed to retrofit their two-step entrance to incorporate a future wheelchair mechanical lift. Additionally, they yearned for an updated kitchen that was also wheelchair-friendly.

“We simply wanted to give our boys more space and make it less of a struggle to get around the house,” said Karen, whose oldest and youngest sons — Michael, 20, and Jake, 16 — are walking impaired.

For starters, Distinctive Remodelers built a covered pavilion near the back of the home that connects to a wheelchair ramp leading to a new wraparound deck graded to the main floor level. They replaced a five-panel window in the rec room with a six-foot-wide, flat-silled sliding patio door that would now be the main rear entryway.

Inside, the boys’ bathroom was enlarged by tearing down a wall and utilizing closet space in the adjacent master bedroom. A cast iron tub was removed and an extra-large walk-in shower was built in its place, complete with a grab bars and a handheld shower wand. The bathroom floors were upgraded and waterproofed, and the door was replaced with a space-saving pocket door that slides into the wall for easy concealment.

“To make room for a wheelchair lift we’ll be installing soon, they also knocked out a wall that had separated our dining room and the kitchen. Now, we have easier maneuverability and visibility between the new kitchen and rec room,” said Mike Weber.

Carroll said that the kitchen and dining room were gutted and combined into one space to produce a more expansive kitchen. Custom birch cabinets and dark granite countertops were installed, as were all-new stainless steel appliances, can lights, faucet, a window and laminate floors.

“Additionally, we created a two-tiered island with a lowered surface on the second tier for wheelchair-height access. We also installed a microwave and refrigerator at a lower height for the boys to be able to easily reach,” noted Carroll.

“We really had to do our homework and plan out this project carefully to make it work for our entire family,” said Karen. “We plan to live here for a long time, and it was worth investing in a home we love so much as opposed to moving or tearing down and starting over.”

Mike Weber can’t stop raving about the finished project, which Distinctive Remodelers completed in late winter.

“We already knew that Mike Carroll and Bryan Nooner were exceptional builders, but they proved to be equally masterful at home renovation. Their team is excellent — clean, prompt, professional — and they do a great job of communicating with you on every phase of the job so that you know exactly what to expect,” said Mike Weber. “They helped us design and implement solutions that were affordable, functional and esthetically appealing.”

A home improvement undertaking of this scope “can often be inconvenient, frustrating and painful, but we found the entire experience to be a lot of fun,” he added.

To make an appointment for a free estimate, contact Distinctive Remodelers at (708) 479-7700. For more information, visit

About The Author

Read All Stories By Walsh Communications

Lynn Walsh is the President at Walsh Communications, LLC. Walsh Communications is a full-service public relations, marketing and advertising agency for home builders and real estate-related industries.

Leave a Comment