Universal Design: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

Universal DesignIf you’re planning on building a new home for your family, chances are you’re also planning on living in that home for many years to come. Therefore, you should spend some time thinking about the possibility of using universal design concepts to make your home functional for you both now and well into the future.

Universal design involves designing a home so that it can be used by everyone who lives inside of it, regardless of how old they are, how tall they are, or whether or not they have a disability or illness that might prevent them from getting around and accessing certain parts of the home. Reynolds Home Builder can help you utilize universal design concepts to include features in your new home that will make it ideal for all the members of your family.

The Origins of Universal Design

According to the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design, the concept of universal design is based on the 7 Principles of Universal Design that were created back in 1997 by a group of architects, engineers, designers and researchers. The seven principles are:

  • Equitable Use
  • Flexibility in Use
  • Simple and Intuitive Use
  • Perceptible Information
  • Tolerance for Error
  • Low Physical Effort
  • Size and Space for Approach and Use

These principles call for new homes that are built using universal design to be as inclusive as possible for all people. Universal design became more of a concern for many builders, architects and designers at the turn of century as society started to consider the ability for people to stay in their homes as more of an issue. As people have started to live longer lives, there has been an increased need to take into account designing properties to be functional for everyone, regardless of their age. Universal design has evolved since then and is now something that many people consider when building a new home or moving into an existing one.

Universal Design Examples of Universal Design

There are many different examples of universal design that can be incorporated into a home, notes This Old House. For example, limiting the number of stairs within a home is one simple way to follow the universal design principles. This includes cutting down or completely eliminating the stairs outside that may lead up to a home or limiting a house to have a single floor instead of two or three floors. It also includes doing away with sunken living rooms, intricate split-level designs and any other types of home construction that has varying floor levels. This helps to accommodate those who cannot climb stairs easily, including the elderly and the handicapped, and it will be a convenience as you grow older yourself and appreciate the lack of obstacles in your home thanks to having a forward-thinking universal design approach.

There are other ways to incorporate universal design, too. When designing a new bathroom for your home, you can include multiple showerheads in your shower that will work for people of different ages, sizes and abilities. You can also make sure that your shower is curbless – meaning that there is no step or wall – so that people can get into and out of it without running into any issues.

You can install flooring throughout your home that is slip-resistant and comfortable for those moving throughout your home, and you can build plenty of low storage in your kitchen – and in other areas of your home – so that everyone will be able to access cabinetry with ease. You can even create wider lanes throughout various parts of your home so that, if necessary, someone in a wheelchair can travel through hallways and other passages without bumping into walls, cabinets, railings or other obstacles.

Universal design is all about making sure that those who enter your home and live under your roof are able to exist in it without being inconvenienced due to their age, size or ability.

How Universal Design Can Benefit You

Universal DesignUniversal design can be incredibly beneficial to you as a homeowner for a variety of reasons. For starters, it will allow you to accommodate those who visit your home at all times. You won’t have to limit where people can travel simply because they’re older or need to use a wheelchair to get around. It will also allow you to grow into your home without having to redesign certain parts of it as you age. Many older people find that their bathtub no longer suits them because they can’t get into it without the risk of falling. They also discover that they can’t access some cabinets in their kitchen and have to stop using them altogether. Universal design prevents this by allowing you to use everything as you always have, even as you get older.

Reynolds Home Builders understands the concepts of universal design and can show you how to incorporate them when building a new home for you and your family. We can walk you through what universal design is all about and tell you more about how it can benefit you in the long run. Call us at 850-508-5076 today to schedule a consultation with us and to find out to include universal design in the design of your new home.

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