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Universal design: 'No longer an unfamiliar concept to home buyers'


In a recent article from Professional Builder, the magazine declares that the concept of universal design has gone mainstream. Contributing editor Susan Bady writes:

Universal design (UD) isn’t just for the elderly or the permanently disabled. As Americans age, they’re beginning to realize that their homes need to accommodate future life changes. Consumers are more cognizant today of the benefits of a universally designed home, but they may not realize it can be beautiful as well as functional. Therein lies an opportunity for builders to open up a dialogue with customers about UD, showing them how it will facilitate aging in place without sacrificing aesthetics.

As a shining example of universal design, Bady shares the story of the Universal Design Living Laboratory — a project sponsored in part by Marvin Windows and Doors. The UDLL is an actual residence but also serves as a show-home of sorts.

The article offers suggestions for seven low-cost universal design elements you might include in your next project:

  • Wider hallways and door openings (recommended widths are 46 inches and 36 inches, respectively)
  • Kitchen work surfaces at different heights
  • Lower light switches and higher electrical outlets
  • Roll-under sinks
  • Open knee space under countertops and islands
  • Lever door handles instead of knobs
  • Blocking for grab bars around showers and bathtubs

Have you implemented the principles of universal design in your work recently?