What is Universal Design?

  • By proadAccountId-386370
  • 17 Nov, 2017

Life can throw you a curveball, and Universal Design is one way to make sure your home works with you when life changes.

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. 
By proadAccountId-386370 20 Nov, 2017
Home remodelers are aplenty in Central Texas, but unfortunately, not all of them are quality companies. You've most likely read or heard some horror stories of kitchen remodels gone wrong, roof replacement resulting in leaks, window replacement left looking terrible, and more. Avoid becoming one of those stories! 

HOW TO HIRE A RELIABLE CONTRACTOR

1. While it's seemingly obvious to check out a company first, many people do not do their research. In the digital age, consumers have a world of information at their fingertips with online reviews. Search for companies on Google, Facebook, Yelp, and more. Read reviews everywhere that you can. Look for photos of their work, and check their rating with the Better Business Bureau. If something rubs you the wrong way, trust your gut. 

2. Check that they are licensed and insured. Should anything go wrong on your property on account of the contractor, but they are not insured, you will end up footing the bill. Ask for their license numbers and to see their insurance policies, and do not be afraid to do so. 

3. Of course, request a free estimate and meet their representatives, whether it be a salesperson they send out, or a project manager. Is that person kind, genuine, and knowledgeable? Has the company invested plenty in training that person to be able to provide you an adequate quote, and to make you feel comfortable throughout the process? Do not sit through hard-sales; a good company will want you to work with them because you want to, not because they forced you into buying. Pay attention to every detail- their truck, their manners, their experience, etc.... This is your home, it's okay to carefully consider a company every step of the way, from the way their first took your phone call, to who showed up to give you the quote. Professionalism should be present at every step. 

4. Inquire about their experience. How many homes have they serviced in San Antonio? How long have they been in business? Do they experience a lot of repeat business? (Which means happy customers!) Thoroughly vet a company, and do not be afraid to ask some hard questions. 


By proadAccountId-386370 17 Nov, 2017
Your home is your sanctuary, your comfort zone, your place to express your personal style. When it comes to remodeling one of the most important rooms of your home (the kitchen!), Howell Enterprises has some expertise to share, to help you make it a wonderful, successful project. 

1.  YOUR KITCHEN, YOUR STYLE.
Use photos for inspiration; it's perfectly fine to browse Pinterest or Houzz and get a feel for what you want. Majority of the time, people know their color scheme and textures before we even meet them! Here's where things can go awry. When getting input from other people, including "designers" at home stores you may be browsing, stay true to what you love. Take their advice with a grain of salt, especially if what they're suggesting feels like it's changing your vision. Do you want white counter-tops, and they say white will be too stark of a contrast for your dark wood floors? That's their opinion, and if you have your heart set on beautiful, white marble counter-tops, then go with your gut. If you installed cream counter-tops instead of white ones based on someone else's opinion, you would end up heartbroken. 

2.  TEST PRODUCTS IN YOUR OWN HOME'S LIGHTING
When shopping for cabinets at a big box store, beware of their huge, fluorescent bulbs looming from overhead. The finish on most products will have a completely different look in your own home's lighting, so take the sample door home, scrutinize it carefully in the lighting of your own kitchen, and be sure they are the color and finish you're looking for. 

3.  DON'T BE AFRAID TO SPEAK UP
When working with your sub-contractors, be sure to speak up if something doesn't look right. The company will want you to be happy the first time around, so don't be afraid to take it to the person you need to speak with if your concerns are not being answered. Of course, you do not want more time spent with your kitchen being remodeled, and much the same, they do not want to spend more time fixing things they did not know happened during install that you may not have been happy with. 
By proadAccountId-386370 17 Nov, 2017
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. 
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