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Karin

Wheelchair accessible ice house?

7 posts in this topic

Hi! I found this forum and I'm hoping you all could help point me in the right direction. I'm trying to figure out which ice fishing houses/companies would be best for my particular, very unusual situation.

 

For starters, I have never been ice fishing. So why on earth do I want a fish house, you might ask? I have a disability and use a wheelchair. I love to travel all over the USA. I've been looking at accessible campers, tiny houses, and such, and one of the biggest issues for accessibility is height from the ground. With a lowering vehicle, you need a much shorter ramp to make it accessible. It makes the difference between a simple metal ramp that could fold up against the door when traveling and something more elaborate requiring set up at each location.

 

I have been researching fish houses for a few months, mostly looking at Ice Castle. They seem to make a wide range of options, and they have made a wheelchair accessible one, although they don't seem to have an understanding of what is required in the bathroom. But in reading here, I see they've had some quality problems? So I'm not sure if I should look at other options.

 

Here are some details about what I'm looking for. I need to be able to sleep three people in separate beds, with at least one bed at ground level (not lofted) for myself. I also need a desk area, probably 5 feet long and I would mount a monitor/TV above it to connect my laptop. I work from home/on the road as an editor and travel blogger. I would like to have the desk on one side and a bed behind it, so when people want to watch TV they can use the bed as a couch. It might be beneficial to have a slide out in this area, but it's not completely necessary if it would add a lot of inconvenience to using the house.  

 

For the kitchen, a refrigerator with fairly large freezer, two burner stove, medium sink, and one of those microwave/convection combination ovens would do the job. And this may sound crazy, but a washer/dryer combo machine would be really handy.

 

The bathroom needs to be larger with no steps and a roll in shower. For some reason most fish house bathrooms have a step. I'm not sure why?

 

Can anyone recommend a good brand of fish house and company that would be open to doing something like this? It doesn't require anything outside what they usually do, except in the bathroom, and arranging things in different ways.

 

And finally, a question about the wheel wells. How far into the house do they extend width-wise? Would it be possible to mount things on top of them like a pair of stove burners (no oven) and a hood with microwave above that? It seems like this space gets wasted in a lot of models I've seen. I'm surprised they tend to put windows above them rather than kitchens or cabinetry, so I was wondering if there's a specific reason. 

 

Thanks for any information and helping a newbie out!

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I am not trying to push Ice Castle, but they are probably going to be your best bet. Is there quality issues? From what I have heard, yes... but they are also one of the only assembly line companies that do one offs like this. What are you going to be pulling it with? I am assume thing that you are probably talking about a 24'+ house. To shed some like on some of your other questions....

 

-The shower and toilets are elevated because the waste tanks reside right below them. Since it sits on the ground, it can not have plumbing and tanks hanging below the frame..... And of course you have the freezing issue in the winter.

 

-You can do anything you want over the wheel wells. Going to a hydraulic frame reduces the the height of the wheel wells

 

-Not sure what your budget is, but don't forget that adding a slide out greatly increases your square footage. May be a good place for the office setting that you mentioned.

 

-Ice Castle has beds that will go up and down using motors... meaning that you can easily hide a bed out of the way when you don't need it.

 

Just my two cents... I am sure that others will chime in

Edited by rl_sd

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Thank you for replying! Yes it would probably be a 24 foot; that seems to be the shortest size that would work, although shorter might be possible if we could get creative over the wheel wells. That's good to know about the hydraulic frame. I don't have a tow vehicle yet, so I would probably start by having someone else transport the trailer to and from a destination where I would spend more time (such as winter in Florida.) Eventually I would like to get a full-size van to pull it. The Nissan vans are really nice, but I could pick up a used Ford van with a wheelchair lift in it already for much less money. So we'll see. For used vans, half tons do seem to be easier to find than anything more powerful. I don't know a lot about towing; this is just from what I've been reading.

 

I would love to have both the bed areas slide out, but I'm not sure how much that would add to the price or how long the camper would have to be. They have to slide out lengthwise (not just the head as on the longest ice castle.) Can a power lifting bed go inside a slide out? My own bed does need to be always at ground level, for a number of complicated reasons, but one of them is that I need to be able to elevate my head, either by putting in an adjustable bed or one of those mattress genies. Either way it would be something plugged into the wall and I'm not sure about raising that up-and-down. Plus if it happens to get stuck in the up position and I'm alone, I won't be able to get in bed. 

 

For the bathroom, would a cassette or composting toilet solve that problem? I would get one of the commercial ones, not the DIY bucket method.

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Why not a camper with a toy hauler option? Use the the ramp for access. Going to give you more options for floor plans, will be cheaper,  and quality will be much higher. 

elkrivermn likes this

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One would think that a travel blogger would be familiar enough with Google to see that this market is well enough addressed by the rv industry to not have to phish this option.

 

Edited by Bryce
elkrivermn and Lip_Ripper Guy like this

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Actually, this market really is not well addressed by the RV industry. There are a few limited options out there and they tend to come with a hefty price tag. Plus in most cases the layout is not really what I want. For example, almost all RV's/trailers seem to have a dinette, which I would almost never use, but no desk. A fold out table would serve my needs for the rare occasions I have multiple people sitting together to eat. Most of the big companies don't do custom work, or they charge an arm and a leg for it. I could get an empty shell and have somebody build the inside; that's definitely something I have considered. But it would be easier to find a company that regularly does custom work and won't look at it as disabled = an excuse to charge more than they would for other customization.

 

I have looked into the toy hauler option extensively. It's what I was leaning towards before I found the fish houses. But the ramp is much steeper than on something that lowers to the ground. Plus the toy hauler door uses the entire back of the vehicle. So it limits what you can put back there. Also, if any of you all have toy haulers, think about what happens in the winter when you open that big door. All the freezing cold air is going to come in. Plus I would have to have a powered door to be able to operate it myself.

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Outside of the plumbing I like the fish house Idea for your usage, however I would call around to some other RV dealers too if that is an option.  We bought new a year ago, and the couple dealers we went to said we could swap out any tables, desks, chairs, beds etc. and the only cost would be the cost of the new unit.  No labor.  They also were willing to give me a buy back credit for any furniture I was taking out.  Also, some RV toy haulers have the door that can be a ramp but can also lower flat to the ground, then lift straight up without tilting.  They also make great porches in the summer as some of them have built in screen tents.  Alternatively, If you went the fishouse option, I would look into raising the entire bathroom up high enough for the plumbing, then look into a small platform, that your could wheel onto then use some kind of electric jack system to raise you up the 8-10 inches to the bathroom.

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