What is Universal Design?

Universal design – what is it and why is it important to me?

The core concept is to make a home designed to be useful and marketable to any group of users. It should be flexible in its use to a wide range of individual preferences and abilities. These design features should be simple and intuitive. The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintentional actions. Ensuring appropriate size and space is provided for approach and use.

Or simply it is a home or remodel that in planning the design takes careful consideration to ensure a home that is inherently accessible to older people with or without disabilities.

Walk In Tub
Walk in tub

Some of the possible features of universal design-

General Construction and Floor Plan Landscaped no step entry to home.  No step access to kitchen, bathroom (with shower), bedroom, laundry.  All doors: 36” wide (absolute minimum 32”).  45” hallways. Thresholds ¼” high or none.  Lever door handles.   Keypad or remote control lock system.  Handrails at all stairs (both sides). Porch covering.

Electrical Distribution panel 48” above floor. Outlets 18”-24” above floor. Phone jacks between 18”-24” above floor. Switches 42”-48” above floor. Rocker panel switches. Smoke detectors. Carbon monoxide detectors.

Lighting Ceiling lights in every room. Task lighting in kitchen, bath, laundry. Lighting from multiple locations. Rheostat switches Night Lights.

Flooring Low pile carpet. Slip resistant. Non-glare.

Bathroom (first floor) – Roll-in or walk-in shower. Grab bars in shower and /or tub area. Reinforced walls by toilet and tub/shower area. Shower seat (permanent or folding). Hand held adjustable shower head. Seated area in vanity. Sink elevation 32”. Lever faucet handles. 60” diameter floor space. Door swings out. Emergency call system.

Utility/Laundry – Front loading washer and dryer. Raise washer and dryer 8”. Shelving between 18”-48” from floor.

Closets Adjustable height shelves. Multi-level shelves and rods. 36” doors or wider.

Security Exterior doors: peep hole (at accessible height) or view of porch from window. Emergency call system in bathroom.   Intercom/camera system at front door. Motion activated outdoor lights.

Kitchen Counter height: Multiple work heights (30”, 36”) or (34” counter height). At least one work height at 30” with no cabinet front (could be at table). Cook top (with potential for seated access). Lower wall cabinets to 15” above counter or provide tall cabinets (or pantry). D or T shape drawer handles. Single lever faucet handles. Wall oven located between 18”-24” above floor (32” ideal). Dishwasher elevated 8” above floor. Refrigerator: Side by side or freezer on the bottom. Front controls on appliances.