UNIVERSAL DESIGN - design solutions that make sense
Updated: Feb 25, 2020
I am going to preface this article by saying firstly; No ONE wants to think that they are getting old and may need to make some changes (READ MORE) to their current home for long term use and two; being able to stay in ones home during the golden years is based on many factors, not just updating space for Universal Design.
Why do we need Universal Design ? Generally speaking in the building and remodeling environments such as residential remodeling - is to make them accessible to all people, regardless of age, disability or other factors. Universal Design serves the entire population regardless of age, size, stature or physical ability. Universal features, products, and designs create homes that are accessible for more people than typical homes. Homes with universal features look no different than neighboring homes and are often no more expensive. Universal design does not produce a special home environment, but rather provides spaces and features that are usable by more people and can be adjusted to meet individual needs. There can be two reasons to include universal design features in a home. One is to meet an immediate need; the other is to plan ahead to make the home better fit household needs now and for the future as part of normal home up-grade or remodeling projects. Planning for aging comes from far-sighted homeowners who anticipate their own, their family’s, and guests’ possible future physical limitations and changing needs. Baby Boomers (born between 1946 - 1964) make up the country's fastest-growing population and represent 20% of the American public and they are outpacing the growth of the general population at a rate of 15.1 percent to 9.7 percent, and the total number of individuals over 65 is projected to nearly double before 2050. The median costs of assisted living for a single person in 2019 will run approximately $48,610 to a staggering $102,200 for a private room nursing home. And these numbers will increase substantially depending on the region you live and services you need. When we compare the median income of baby boomers at $77,600 the costs of specialty care seems unattainable. The focus now has shifted for baby boomers and the goals are to stay in their homes for as long as possible. From just the practical aspect of day to day routines; shopping, friends, doctors and the knowledge and comfort that those tangible items which were worked so hard for and enjoyed on a daily basis, will continue to be enjoyed.
How to accomplish Universal Design's Aging In Place ? Some methods to make a home more functional for everyone should be considered in home remodeling projects. With arthritis and arthritis limiting mobility, loss of dexterity and failing eyesight; even small changes in the home makes "aging in place" an attainable goal. Consider making some of these interior changes:
* use of lever handle door hardware and faucets
* installation of large rocker-style light switches
* use of extra lighting where necessary
* installation of hand-held flexible shower fixtures
* installation of new electrical outlets and telephone jacks (when needed) no lower than 15 inches above the floor surface and of new light switches between 36 inches and 48 inches above the floor surface
* adjustable hanging closet rod and shelf systems
And for the exterior of the home consider;
*larger house numbers which are easier to see
*focused light over door lock
*a second peep hole for people who are shorter or who are seated
*connect doorbell to interior light that will flash Knocker on and off when doorbell is activated
*Install intercom system with video display
Keep in mind the goal of universal design is to increase the degree to which individuals can be independent, and comfortable in the home, by include relatively inexpensive features that are helpful for everyone and can be included during any rehabilitation or remodeling project. Although many universal designs would increase the value of your home, this may not fully compensate for added cost. You should base your decisions on the degree to which you can afford the modification. Depending on the extent of your remodeling project:
Consider widening doorways to allow for a 32-inch clear opening. Front door and bathroom door are most important by Creating a clear, level circulation route through the home. If you want to make your home totally wheelchair accessible (or accessible for people with specific physical limitations) be mindful of turning radius dimensions. If you are changing the footprint of the home (which can be expensive) consider enlarging the bathroom and widening doorways and hallways. Bathroom changes include adding grad bars in existing showers and tubs. And as part of a bathroom remodel; changes to create "zero entry" showers, faucets and fixtures in ADA compliance, flooring and tile changes and lighting changes. Changes that can be accomplished during a kitchen remodel, can range from the minor to include adjustable or lower counter to increase usability to changes compliant with ADA guidelines.
How To Get Started On Your Universal Design - Aging In Place Project?
Schedule a FREE home assessment by calling us at 346 800 2284. We proudly service the Greater Houston Community. A member of our design team will come out to your home and review the 5 point checklist of your interior and exterior as well as indicate any additional areas that would benefit with changes and ADA compliance.