While Universal design is a concept already popular with people aged 55 and up, it is becoming a more normal conversation for all people considering remodeling, buying or building a home.
Trevor Howell of Howell Enterprises spent some time dishing the details on what Universal Design really means, and why it's important to consider, no matter the age of the homeowner.
What is Universal Design and why is it important?
"It means your home can accommodate anyone, no matter their age, ability, size, etc... And it's something important to consider early on, because many people who purchase or remodel a home plan to stay there throughout the entirety of their life. If they're going to be remodeling now, it makes sense to incorporate elements that can fit their lifestyle at any age in the future."
What's better- Remodeling or Selling?
"In this day and age, we see many people springing for remodeling. You can do a series of simple changes over a few years, or do them all at once, that will change the entire house, and it will be a small percentage of what buying a new home would cost. When someone experiences lifestyle changes due to aging or the onset of a disability, moving to a new home would undoubtedly be more of a struggle than doing some simple (but statement-making) renovations in their own home where they're comfortable and happy."
What does the Homeowner need to know?
"They can meet a CAPS (Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist) to discuss their personal needs and learn how to ensure those needs are met during a Universal Design Project. Some great things for the homeowner to consider are why they're doing this project, what their concerns are, what their activity levels are, and whether they believe there is potential for mobility or health issues in the future. Once those are discussed, products chosen for each room in the home take on a whole new meaning, and can be strategically placed or modified.
What are some examples of Universal Design Elements?
"The options are nearly endless, but some really great examples are home improvements like sensor lights to automatically turn on via movement, portable benches, grab bars, wheelchair accessibility, wall-mounted folding seats and lower counter-tops. Really thinking about these options early can save you or your family members a lot of strife down the road."
But what about STYLE?
"Creating an environment to last throughout the ages never means you must compromise flare and style. We can keep any home contemporary and modern in design while choosing products that are also functional and serve a specific purpose.