Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Universal design when renovating your home for all ages
A recent survey conducted of retired persons revealed that 84% of Boomers want to stay in their current homes during retirement.
Meanwhile, multigenerational households -- those with parents, kids, and at least one grandparent -- account for one-third of the housing market.
What those demographic and lifestyle profiles reveal is a large number of homeowners -- perhaps including you -- would like to make changes to their current home that would allow family members of all ages and capabilities to live independently and comfortably for years to come.
That's where Universal Design, or UD, comes into play. Universal Design is an architectural practice that allows occupants of all ages and capabilities to live independently and comfortably over a long period of time in the same house.
Far more comprehensive than wheelchair ramps and grab bars, UD elements are subtle, almost undetectable ... until you need them. Then you'll thank your remodeling contractor for having some forethought and concern for your needs, whether for a young child, an elderly parent, or someone recovering from a short-term injury or long-term disability.
While you may have to look closely, here are some strategies that incorporate good universal design in a remodeling project:
Cabinet features. Long desired for bigger base cabinets, pull-out (or roll-out) shelves are an increasingly popular option for tall and upper wall cabinets, making their contents more visible and accessible. Regardless of age or physical capabilities, accessories such as lazy susans, door shelves, slotted drawers, and flip-down fronts enhance the storage capacity and accessibility of kitchen cabinets and bath vanities. Most existing cabinets can be retrofitted with these features to keep the budget in check. Soft-close drawers on newer cabinets, meanwhile, protect against pinched fingers.
Hard-surface flooring. Yes, it's slightly more expensive than wall-to-wall carpeting, but a combination of hardwood, polished flat tiles, and resilient floor surfaces throughout the house is not only easier to clean and promote healthier indoor air quality, but also easier to traverse. Where needed, area rugs can soften the surfaces.
Lever handles. For doors, sinks and showers, swapping a single-lever handle for a knob (or two) is both fashionable and easier to manipulate. A lever is a better option when you have an armful of groceries, are just able to reach the handle (kids), or lack strength for gripping. For faucets and showers, levers also allow easier temperature control, which mitigates scalding hazards. Also, "D"-shaped handles or grips on cabinets make them easier to open.
Appliances. Wall ovens and warming drawers, dishwasher and refrigerator drawers (set side-by-side, not
stacked), French-door style refrigerators, and microwave ovens with flip-down doors are just a few examples of appliances that are not only popular but also deliver UD benefits of better accessibility and increased safety.
The market for products and systems that enable attractive yet more accessible home design and function is growing. Professional remodeling contractors and their clients have many options to remodel a home that suits a wider variety of lifestyle needs now and in the future while also enhancing beauty, comfort, convenience, and long-term value.
This is an exert from a newsletter that is distributed to all former, current and future clients of Village Builders Inc. It is written by the President Doug Abbott. If you would like to receive this newsletter feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Village Builders Inc.