Applying Universal Design To Your Custom Home in NC

Accessible Home Design North Carolina

You Want a Safe, Accessible, Enjoyable Home Right?
Then You Should Consider Universal Design Principals

Universal home design is the idea of making every aspect of your home and it’s function more comfortable and more convenient for as many different people at as many different stages of life as possible.  Young, old, disabled or able-bodied individuals will all be able to enjoy a universal design equally.

Many universal design ideas are actually common-sense features but by applying them to the home you’re planning on building you will have a more pleasant and comfortable experience and also avoid any expensive changes or remodels in the future.

Universal Home Design Works For:

  • People who want to age in their own homes.
  • Families with small children.
  • Families with a special needs family member.
  • For people who may be taller or shorter than average.
  • For people who use wheel chairs or walkers to get around.

The entire concept behind universal home design is flexibility and simplicity.  Your home must be easy to adapt to as your life-stages change.  Not only for yourself, but for everyone else who lives in or visits your home too.  You want your home to make the mundane tasks of everyday life simpler, easier and more enjoyable.  Everything from cleaning to storage to maintenance and more can benefit from universal home design principals.

An Excellent Resource – The Center for Universal Design (CUD) is a national information, technical assistance, and research center that evaluates, develops, and promotes accessible and universal design in housing, commercial and public facilities, outdoor environments, and products.

How Does Universal Design Affect Cost When Building a New Home?

Many homeowners are concerned with the costs when it comes to universal home design concepts and applying them to their new home.  If you are building a custom home for yourself and you plan to live out the next 20-30+ years in your home then universal design concepts implemented now, at the time of construction could potentially save you thousands of dollars in needed remodeling or alterations to your home in the future.

As to how much it adds to the cost of your new home up-front?  With new construction, many universal design features can be incorporated into your home with very little or no added cost, they just need to be planned ahead with your designer and your builder.  If there are added costs or complications than your builder will be able to discuss what can impact the cost of each feature.

After receiving advice from your builder it’s up to you to set your priorities according to your specific needs.  If you require special equipment or special systems to be installed in your home to assist with medical issues then you’ll need to discuss those aspects with your designer and your builder.

Universal Home Design Ideas

Step-Free Entry Ways

A beautiful set of hand-crafted stairs leading up to a front entrance is a sight to behold, but if it’s you that needs to walk up and down them everyday for the next 20 years you need to consider how your life will change or who may come to visit you.  Stairs are usually a hassle, not only for yourself but your visitors, moms with strollers, elderly or people in a wheelchair.

As a builder we can help you take advantage of any natural slope in your lot so we can make at least one of your doors at ground level.  Ramps can be integrated into a deck, porch or patio as well offering more points of entry.

Low-Maintenance Siding, Roofing and Trim

Universal home design requires the use of low-maintenance materials.  If you are elderly or mobility challenged you probably don’t want to be re-painting your siding every few years, nor do you want to be worrying about your roofing or it’s durability over the next few decades.  There are a variety of low-maintenance and even maintenance free exterior cladding materials such as metal roofing, aluminum, vinyl siding and more.

Consider The Location Of Load Bearing Walls

If it’s possible with your home design you might want to consider having the weight of the building resting on external walls.  By avoiding internal load-bearing walls you will open up the possibility of easily being able to move walls and remodel the home in the future should circumstances change.

All Rooms On One Floor

If you can have all of your bedrooms, bathrooms, the kitchen, living room and dining room all on one floor you’ll have a much simpler floor plan that won’t require climbing stairs.  Sometimes a clients lot size will require us to build “up” but for universal home design a rancher style or one-level home is more preferable.

Universal Bathroom Design Ideas

There are many options when it comes to universal design in the bathroom and it’s one of the most important places in your home too.  More accidents occur in the bathroom for the elderly and mobility challenged than any other room in the house.

  • Bathroom doors should be at least 36″ wide.
  • Lots of manoeuvrable floor space between toilet, tub and sink.
  • Barrier-free or walk-in shower with no curb or lip.
  • Shower should be at least 36″x 36″ and larger if a wheelchair is being accommodated.
  • Adjustable height shower heads and digital shower controllers.
  • Grab bars in both bath and shower (if separate)
  • Grab bar for toilet.
  • Consider a walk-in tub installation.

Universal Home Design in Your Living Room

You’ll want a living room that is comfortable and easy to relax in.  Allow space to move around all pieces of furniture with ease, if someone were confined to a walker or wheelchair for example.

Consider keeping the flooring material in your living room consistent with the rest of the home to avoid transitions in your floor.  This is called “continuous flooring” and can reduce chances of a trip or fall, especially important for those with mobility issues and small children.

Your living room should be well lit and take advantage of any natural sunlight.  Outlets should have sliders to protect small children from

Universal Home Design in Your Kitchen

The kitchen is the most frequently used room in most homes.  You’ll likely spend a lot of time in your kitchen with friends and family and even just yourself on that rainy sunday morning.  You want a kitchen that is easy to work in, doesn’t feel cramped and offers plenty of accessible counter and cupboard space.

  • You can’t have too much counter space.
  • Wide open floor plans for ease of movement.
  • Single lever anti-scald faucets.
  • Counters/work surfaces at varying heights.
  • Rounded corners instead of sharp edges for your counters.
  • Easy to operate appliances.
  • A well designed lighting system.
  • Wide entry ways.

We Specialize in Universal Home Design and Construction in North Carolina

Jonathan Landry of JL BuildersJL Builders is a custom home builder based out of Asheville, NC.  We specialize in applying universal and green design principals into our clients homes.  If you already live in North Carolina or you are looking to relocate to North Carolina and want to build your dream home – give us a call, we’d love to build what you’ve been envisioning for your home.

Our Western North Carolina Service Areas

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