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Renovate for Recovery update: Working with the 2013 Marathon survivors

A new Boston Marathon will be run on April 21, but for the people most impacted by last year's bombings, the long road to recovery has just begun. Working with the Boston Survivors Accessibility Alliance, BSA committee Renovate for Recovery is already assisting in the adaptation of seven homes by creating accessible bathrooms, stairs, entryways, kitchens, and more. The goal is to deliver these projects with fully donated goods and services. There is still more work to do, and an ongoing need for labor and materials. Below is an update on completed and in-progress projects, followed by a list of specific needs (courtesy of the BSAA).


If you want to donate labor, materials, or cash, please contact us:
Dana Cohen AIA / or
Dawn Guarriello AIA /


Special thanks to all the architects and builders currently donating labor and materials.

Please give generously now, and help keep Boston strong.

Completed projects

Nashua, New Hampshire

The first project was an out of state project and was completed on August 30 with fully donated goods and services. The project scope included a full bathroom renovation which incorporated replacing an existing tub with a walk-in shower, adjustable shower head, seat, horizontal and vertical grab bars, and a ceiling light, changing out the existing sink and vanity with a higher-height sink and lever faucets, the installation of a comfort-height toilet and grab bars throughout the bathroom. Additionally all standard light switches were replaced with paddle-type switches. New exterior entry steps were constructed to accommodate a walker. All door knobs were replaced with lever handles.

Architect: Gretchen Schneider-Rabinkin AIA, Community Design Resource Center

General contractor: Granite Rock Builders

Somerville, MA

This project is being done in three phases: The first phase included new front stairs incorporating non-slip deck boards, stair treads and code compliant handrails. This was recently completed with the help of Ask This Old House which will air the segment on their PBS program shortly. The second phase is anticipated to begin soon. This will include a third level porch which will allow access from the applicant's apartment to the outdoors without the need to traverse multiple flights of stairs. Interior work is scheduled in phase three which will include installation of light sensors and timers in the entry hallways so that lights will illuminate for longer periods; installation of a new stair handrail system; replacement of interior vinyl floor tiles; and interior modification to the existing bathroom to accommodate a wheelchair.

Architect: Michael McHugh, Architects for Humanity

General contractor: Phase one—Ask This Old House; Phase two—S+H construction; Phase three—Structure Tone
Structural Engineer - Paul Kirby - Allen & Major Associates

Lowell, MA

The BSAA has successfully installed a stair lift for an applicant who is now able to travel up and down the stairs of her home and return to her master bedroom rather than sleeping in her living room. Stannah Stair Lift generously donated the lift together with the labor and installation. This applicant is currently building a home in Danvers, MA which will include a residential elevator that was generously donated by Schindler Elevator Company.

Architect: Christopher Brown, Renovate for Recovery

General contractor: FBN Construction

The BSAA and Renovate for Recovery are also involved in several other projects and is in need of donations of labor and materials.

Carlisle, MA

This project is in the design stage. There were two assessments which determined the following scope of work. The construction of a two car garage and the addition of a mudroom connector to provide access from the exterior to the first floor avoiding the need for a large ramp in front of the house. Modifications to the existing bathroom are planned to provide a new roll-in shower, vanity, and accessible sink. Plans also include possibly expanding the dining room area to accommodate a table and allow for a wheelchair circulation/access throughout the room. Raising the grade in the backyard to accommodate an easier transition from the existing deck to the yard and also extending the desk across to the family room.

Architect: Mike Tartamella, Renovate for Recovery

General contractor: Merz Construction
Land Surveyor - Azu Etoniru - E. T. Engineering Enterprises

Stoneham, MA

The BSAA has committed to a full bathroom remodel, the installation of a three-stop elevator, and the construction of a garage for survivors who recently purchased a new home. The BSAA is collaborating with the television network A&E which will provide a full kitchen modification, bathroom modification, and the creation of a recreation room to be featured on their production of Flipping Boston. A monetary donation to cover the cost of purchasing and installing a three-stop elevator for this project was generously made through The International Union of Elevator Constructors Local 4. Local 4 will be working with the United Elevator Company to purchase and install this elevator.

Architect: Janis Mamayek, Renovate for Recovery

General contractor: Structure Tone
Land Surveyor - Justin Maloney - Maloney Geospatial LLC
Structural Engineer - Mark Webster & Daniel Foiles - Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
Geotechnical Engineer - Michael Yako - GEI Consultants

Cambridge, MA

The applicants have recently purchased a condo in Cambridge, MA, and plans are being drawn for the possible installation of either a residential two-stop elevator or included platform lift. The preliminary plans include the installation of mechanical pull down shelves in all upper kitchen cabinets; reworking of areas of kitchen for accessibility; lowering the vanity sink unit in the master bath. The general contractor, Purdy Construction, is the original GC on the project and the proprietor has graciously donated his services and crews for the completion of the modifications.

Architect: Ellen Light, Renovate for Recovery

General contractor: Purdy Construction

Reading, MA

The second site assessment was recently completed on February 3, 2014. Existing Conditions drawings are being prepared by the architect along with the preparation of possible design options to be considered. Scope will include the construction of an accessible master bedroom suite with an accessible bathroom. An elevator will be required for this modification. Plans for the expansion of the existing garage to allow accessible entrance to the residence are also being designed. A vertical lift will be required in the garage. This home is also in need of modifications of the front entrance to make it accessible.

Architect: Ian Ford, Renovate for Recovery

General contractor: Consigli
Civil / Structural / Land Survey - R J O'Connell & Associates 

To complete the projects noted above, and to assist survivors with whom we have yet to connect, labor and materials are still needed. Specific items for each known project are listed below.

Somerville: (Phase three)


  • New bathroom exhaust
  • New adjustable hand-held shower fitting and mixing valve
  • New wall tile at tub surround
  • New fiberglass window in tub wall
  • New fold-down wood slat tub seat
  • New grab bars at tub
  • New toilet (higher seat)
  • New casework in bathroom opposite toilet for linens/towels
  • Change swing of bathroom door
  • Kitchen

New rubber flooring at kitchen

  • Change swing on refrigerator door
  • Adjust hanging kitchen light fixture


  • Change swing of apartment entry door
  • New rubber flooring at stair landings
  • Paint treads and risers
  • Remove existing grab bars in stair, patch walls, and paint
  • Rebuild guardrail at interior run of stairway and add continuous wood handrail (4 runs)
  • Adjust/replace hall timer controlling lighting

Stoneham survivor

Accessible two-car garage / entry – approx. 1,000 sf – single story

  • Excavation
  • Foundations and concrete slab on grade
  • Two single width garage door with openers
  • Interior and exterior framing -- insulated
  • Interior vertical lift and stairs
  • Gypsum board
  • Electrical and lighting
  • Windows
  • Doors – both exterior and interior
  • EIFS siding
  • Roof
  • Asphalt driveway

Accessible first floor bathroom – renovation – approx. 70 sf

  • Walk-in shower with glass shower door
  • Copper shower pan
  • Ventilating exhaust fan
  • Accessible vanity and mirror
  • Electrical and lighting
  • Plumbing
  • Tile walls and floor
  • Interior reframing
  • Paneled interior door with hardware

Passenger elevator enclosure (exterior) – three stops – (elevator by others)

  • Excavation
  • Footings and foundations
  • Framing
  • Electrical
  • Roof
  • Exterior Siding – EIFS to match existing adjacent.

Carlisle survivor

Accessible two-car garage/ entry – approx. 1,000 sf – single story

  • Excavation
  • Foundations and concrete slab on grade
  • Two garage doors and openers
  • Interior and exterior framing
  • Gypsum board
  • Electrical and lighting
  • Windows – four
  • Doors – both exterior and interior – six
  • Clapboard siding
  • Roof

Accessible master bath – Approx. 240 sf

  • Excavation
  • Foundations and concrete slab on grade
  • Interior and exterior framing
  • Gypsum board
  • Electrical and Lighting
  • Soaking tub
  • Comfort height water closet
  • Double bath vanity
  • Plumbing accessories and grab bars
  • Tile walls and floor
  • Windows – three
  • Doors – one pocket door
  • Roof

Accessible kitchen– Approx. 26 sf of upper and base cabinets

  • Vertical lift shelving for upper cabinets
  • Stone countertop
  • Base cabinets – with sliding shelves
  • Electrical and lighting
  • Kitchen sink and plumbing

Cambridge survivor

  • Retrofitting existing upper Kitchen Cabinets to accept Pull down shelves. Install mechanically pull down shelf inserts in the existing upper cabinet boxes. There are 5 upper cabinets to be retrofitted: (1) @ 13 1/2” clear inside dim. /  (2) @ 12” clear inside dim. / (2) @ 24” clear inside dim.
    • Retrofitting existing base cabinets to replace adjustable shelves with drawer slides. Install shelves on sliders at 2 base cabinets to match existing: 2 shelves are needed @ 14” clear inside dim/ 4 shelves are needed @ 12” clear inside dim.
    • Provide a “lazy Susan” at the corner base cabinet between the oven and sink.
  • Custom millwork.  Door and barn door hardware to close new closet in Master Bath.
  • Vertical Lift
  • Survivor to decide between Inclined platform lift or home elevator
  • Side by side clothes washer/dryer – to replace current stacked appliances – not accessible

Reading survivor

Note: Scope still to be confirmed – but will include:

  • Accessible master bedroom and bathroom wing with elevator
  • Modifications to existing kitchen to make accessible
  • Accessible front entrance
  • Accessible two-car garage with lift and interior stairs

If you want to donate labor, materials, or cash, please contact committee chairs Dana Cohen AIA / or Dawn Guarriello AIA /