UNDERSTANDING UNIVERSAL DESIGN WHEN BUILDING A CUSTOM HOME
If you’re building a custom home then you’ll be facing a variety of design questions. This is a good time to look at your living quarters with the future in mind. Keep in mind that the attributes and conveniences that you choose for your home today may not be ideal in the future. Utilizing principles of Universal Design (UD) will make your home functional and ensure that it remains livable as you progress through life.
When you set out to design your new space, consider your needs as well as those of your parents, grandparents, friends, and other visitors. Universally designed homes are not just for the elderly or permanently disabled. Here are some of the more common reasons to consider incorporating universal design concepts into your next home:
- The needs of young children
- The ability to stay in the home through your golden years
- Dexterity and/or mobility limitations or temporary or permanent disability
Look closely at the following spaces to get a better understanding of universal design and how it can work for you now, as well as in the future.
Flexible Exterior Space
Design an adaptable and flexible exterior space by taking into account the location of the front door, distance of parking from the home, and how you plan to enter the home on a regular basis. In today’s world, most people tend to enter from the garage.
A Kitchen for Everyone
For many families, the kitchen represents the heart of the home. With some forethought your kitchen can accommodate people of all ages and abilities – from the little one making their first batch of cookies to elderly parents dealing with arthritis. The following ideas will make life easer for everyone.
- Pullout counter beneath a built-in wall oven will allow for the easy transfer of dishes.
- Swivel cabinet doors underneath the cooktop will fold out of the way, which provides knee space.
- An elevated dishwasher and raised front-loading washer and dryer will reduce the need to bend or stand and improve overall accessibility.
- Rollout shelves improve visibility and make it easier to see and reach items stored in lower cabinets.
Accessible and Functional Bathrooms
Many of the design principles of the kitchen also apply to bathrooms. Newer homes have a half-bath on the first floor. The principles of UD call for the setup of a full bath on the main level of your home. Following are some of the most important features of a universally designed bathroom:
- Doorway width – Make your doorways 36 inches wide to make it easier for people who use wheelchairs and other mobility equipment to gain entry into the bathroom.
- Adequate floor space – The bathroom should have a minimum of 5 feet of open space–an area wide enough to allow people in wheel chairs to make a 180-degree turn when necessary.
- Flooring materials – Choose slip-resistant flooring to ensure that all persons can move about the space safely, even on a wet floor. Tiles with wide grout lines provide good traction. Marble is very slippery when it gets wet.
Whether you plan to build a custom home, or you’re building an addition or extensive renovation, consult with an experienced homebuilder that has the knowledge and experience of building a range of home types.