Having turned 50 this year, I have received much mail regarding membership to the AARP (American Association of Retired Person). Even though I am far from being ready for retirement, being AARP eligible is an indicator of aging, at least for me, similar to gray hair and weaker eye sight. Getting older is a fact of life and ignoring the reality does not make it go away.
On a similar note, most homeowners do not like to discuss universal design options during the onset of a design and build remodeling project. For those unfamiliar with the term universal design, it broadly refers to construction components that allow for easier use and access for people of various ages, sizes, and physical condition. Aging in place is an associated term that refers to planning and building in components that may not be required presently but possibly will be needed or welcomed in the future.
When sensing avoidance of the subject, or as a preemptive strike, the Design Build Planners introduce some of these points and references:
- We try to use 36” for all door widths. That will allow for walker and wheelchair passage. Also, it is handy for moving and carrying items through doorways.
- We recommend lever style door handles as opposed to knobs. It allows for easier opening and convenience for all. Plu,s we believe it is a better look.
- For bathrooms we consider wall mounted grab bars, shower bench seats, curbless shower access, adjustable shower head height with a handheld spray, and floor drains. All these features enhance accessibility, but also offer great convenience and comfort for all.
- In a kitchen we typically incorporated varied countertop heights. This creates landing zones and makes for easier cooking to table transitions. As a bonus it leads to an interesting, unique kitchen layout.
- Microwave placement is almost never placed above the range anymore. Access is difficult and the transfer of hot foods from overhead is often dangerous.
- When planning bedroom suites or add-a-levels, we review the option, budget, and placement for an elevator now or planned as a future phase. A home elevator makes multi-floor living easy for all. As a comfort luxury item, elevators make for easier transporting of people, pets, laundry, groceries…etc.
Universal design is much more than accessibility. It is a “one size fits all” plan for the present and future needs of a family. Fortunately, this plan can be accomplished with style and appeal.
To explore the possibilities of a design build remodeling project and to learn how universal design may be applied contact the Design Build Planners team
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