stretching, running around, and standing unnecessarily. Work effi- ciency in the design of the home will leave the homeowners with more time and energy for social and creative activities.
By incorporating the Principles of Universal Design into the design of the Optimum Performance Home at The Sea Ranch, the homeowners will be able to welcome people with diverse abilities to be their guests. The master bedroom suite is on the ground floo , conveniently located close to the social hub of the home. The office on the ground floor has space allocated for a Murphy bed for guests. Two of the guest bedrooms and a study/library/surround music room, which can be used as a guest bedroom, are upstairs, but space was allocated for an elevator to be installed if desired in the future.
One of the important considerations in universal design is flexibility. Universal homes are designed to readily accommo- date people who differ in height, size, strength, and mobility. Some people may be disabled in a medical sense, but they are handicapped by an environment that imposes unneces- sary barriers. It may be just a matter of a few inches to create a more inclusive design that values social integration of peo- ple of all abilities. Marketability and resale value are increased because you can sell your home to people of all ages and abilities; no one is excluded from buying your home because of unnecessary barriers and hazards.
Independence And Self-Reliance
We are living longer than ever before so our homes need to be designed to support our desire to stay in our own homes as long as possible. Universal design supports this desire to “age in place” by creating homes that facilitate inde- pendence/self-reliance, as well as allow us to recover from ill- ness or injury in the comfort of our own homes rather than in an impersonal institutional setting. Our homes need to be designed to support in-home caregiving, which many long- term care insurance plans are now covering. Traditional homes are full of unnecessary hazards and barriers to in- home caregiving. Universal design can be incorporated into new home designs and remodeling projects to provide us with freedom of choice of where we want to live. The savings from deferred institutional living can quickly recoup the cost of incorporating universal design. With the rapidly changing demographics in this country, we really cannot afford to not incorporate universal design.
needs of the grandchildren as well as the grandparents. The Optimum Performance Home at The Sea Ranch is designed to accommodate the homeowners’ current, as well as future, family needs.
Benefits Outweigh Costs
Universal homes are aesthetically more attractive because of the more open, spacious floor plans and enhanced natural lighting. Universal design is value-added design! The addi- tional cost of incorporating the Principles of Universal Design is only a few thousand dollars when done at the beginning of new home design. The benefits far outweigh the additional costs. The specific universal fixtures (comfort height toilet, grab bars, etc.) should be offered as options, which would be selected and paid for by the homebuyers as they desire.
Why would anyone want to buy a house with unnecessary hazards and barriers?
We need to let the home building industry know that we will not settle for the status quo.
Next time you are touring model homes, ask to see the uni- versal design models. When talking with your remodeling con- tracto , tell him or her that you want your home addition and/or remodeling to include universal design features. We should want only the best: universal homes that provide us with opti- mum performance! UHD
As an occupational therapist for over thirty years, Susan Mack, OTR/L, CAPS, has been involved with modifying products and homes for people of all ages and abilities. When consulting with developers, architects, and remodeling contractors, she utilizes her knowledge of human functional diversity and changes over the lifetime to synthesize the principles of universal design into marketable universal floor plans and specifications. She received the 2001 and 2004 Gold Awards from the National Association of Home Builders for her uni- versal design consulting work on market-rate universal homes in California and Ohio. She is President of Homes for Easy Living Universal Design Consultants. She is the Universal Design Consultant for the Optimum Performance Home at The Sea Ranch. She can be reached at 760 409 7565 or smack@homesforea- syliving.com (www.homesforeasyliving.com).
Photo Credits Susan Mack, Home For Easy Living - All photos.
This review, Copyright © 2007 Ultimate Home Design, Inc. has been reproduced in its entirety from Issue 02, March/April 2007.
Many homes now have three or four generations of family members living together. Universal homes accommodate multigenerational families by addressing the environmental
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