Universal design is becoming the new buzz word in construction. It's about creating attractive space that can be used by everyone regardless of age or ability. A home designed using the principles of universal design accommodates to everyone's needs and abilities and allows all to live in equal comfort and safety. Universal design features are easily incorporated into new home pre-construction but can also be applied when planning home renovations. As an added bonus, these features only increase your home's value.
Universal design features would include:
1. Zero step entries where at least one entrance is step free. This makes it easier for those who have difficulty with stairs without the need for a ramped entrance to accommodate a wheelchair. Everyone benefits from a step-less entrance.
2. Single story living where the kitchen, living room, a full bathroom and bedroom are all on one floor.
3. Wider doorways and hallways. Doorways that are at least 36" wide are easier to maneuver when carrying laundry baskets, moving furniture, or bringing packages in and out of rooms.
4. Lever style handles and rocker light switches. This make opening doors, turning on faucets and switching on lights easier for everyone regardless of age and ability.
5. Reachable switches and controls. Light switches should be mounted at 42-48" above the floor and electrical outlets 18-24" off the floor. A thermostat should be mounted no higher than 48" above the floor.
6. Windows that require minimal effort to open and close.
7. Multi-level kitchen counters that everyone can reach and that allow a cook to sit while working in the kitchen.
8. Easy access kitchen storage - adjustable height cabinets and pull out shelving.
9. Bathrooms with low or no-threshold showers, comfort height toilets, and non-slip flooring.
There are so many universal design products now made for the home that with a little research, planning and thoughtfulness you can turn your home into one that is comfortable for every member of your family.