Check out my building blog to learn more about construction for your home or office in Austin! David L. Traut, President, CAPS Certified (512)444-0097

Future Home Building Using Universal Design

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Dec 30, 2020 @ 15:12 PM

The present out of control housing market situation prompted a search for answers solving the question of how to create houses capable of meeting the needs of tomorrow while accommodating future life changes. There is no one size fits all home design because everyone’s life experience is unique to them creating a diverse society with diverse physical needs. Using Universal Design, the wide ranging abilities of the homeowner is a major consideration for all successful inclusive and adaptable designs in homes. The absence of the Universal Design principles entering into all existing home architectural endeavors is perpetuating the lack of accessible housing urgently needed for the lifespan of every homeowner. To increase the acceptance of this design concept by everyone, especially the consumer, Universal Design must become a topic of conversation through knowledge and basic understanding. This depends on the members of the broadest populations’ acknowledgement of the need for the use of this practical idea.

Universal Design Kitchen in Austin

Universal Design plays a significant role in the future accessibility of all home designs. Homeowners must base design decisions on the seven (or eight) principles of Universal Design. Deciding which universal features to include in future forever homes is the most alluring question. Each principle is very useful in itself. The more principles involved in the design process, the greater the adaptable outcome of the home. After all, the smart forward thinking homes of the future depict long term sustainable assets for life allowing Aging in Place to seamlessly follow as people age and evolve. It is true Universal Design emerged out of the accessible and adaptive architectural movement; however, it constantly attempts to combine aesthetics with basic core values for every user. While moving us toward an accessible future, appearing invisible, Universal Design recognizes peoples’ bodies, needs, and lifestyles constantly change along a continuum due to the aging process. Universal Design acknowledges too that everyone ages differently as individuals. One person’s disability type is not experienced like another’s. It is better to live in a more open and comfortable Universal Design home with the flexibility of evolving with the homeowner rather than one which at some uncertain time becomes an impasse during the homeowner’s lifetime.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

Embracing Universal Design with its many values and advantages for all people during timely remodeling projects or while building a new home is needed if society is ever going to escape the inaccessible cookie cutter homes of today. Additionally, this design technique offers a win-win solution helping solve problems encountered by multi-generational households. The multi-generational homes of today create the greatest personal accessibility challenges for all the generations involved. The application of Universal Design principles is desperately needed to sustain the choice of living environments for these diversified families. Universal Design homes have the unique ability of simultaneously accommodating strollers, walkers, or wheelchairs within the home without regard to a person’s size, age, or abilities. Furthermore, these homes contain lasting value if the owner ever decides to sell appealing to all society groups. To the uninformed, the folklore associated with Universal Design has stigmatized the process in home building today. This has much to do with why such a unique building concept is not greeted with open arms by the consumer. Beliefs like, it costs more, it takes up too much space, it will make my home have less resale value, it will look institutional, or only a few people could benefit from it represent a select few.

While Universal Design sounds appealing in conversations, it is rare to actually witness it in the built environment. The Universal Design movement recognizes its slow acceptance hinges on historic ties related to being a disability solution. This way of thinking causes implications for consumers and the world of home design presenting a huge misconception. Universal Design never distanced itself from the need for increased accessibility during the disability movement of the 80’s and therefore is mired in ADA jargon producing an indelible unfocused brand. As an inclusive design, Universal Design pertains to overcoming the barriers and stereotypes associated with its terminology in order to stand out as the next and final trend in future housing. Universal Design has no limits for the varying groups of people it helps. Every family member is included when using this design methodology whether they are abled or disabled, short or tall, young or old. With education, people understand Universal Design is the most revolutionary element in housing design today. Once realized how the principles of Universal Design affect everyone in the quest for maximum inclusion, consumers might start paying better attention to this logical building concept. Future home dwellers are fortunate in having this transitional and adaptable design concept in their vocabulary. Possibly they distinguish the designs flexibility as the gateway for tomorrow homes built and designed for everyone at every age. Only then, when people grasp the importance of Universal Design, does it become an everyday building term and a much needed household solution. No longer are personal desires for Aging in Place creating total disruption during life’s waning years. It is successfully accomplished seamlessly following the accessibility offered by Universal Design.

Principles Of Universal Design

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Universal Kitchen Design

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Dec 16, 2020 @ 12:12 PM

A Universal Design approach to kitchen conception takes into account people’s varying degrees of ability and disability rather than someone is either fully-functional or disabled. The diversity among the users of the kitchen includes size, age and agility. The kitchen represents the family hub, and for the designated cook of the day, it is where many hours are spent caring for the family. A Universally Designed kitchen supports the diversity of all cooks, users, and helpers. With the additional cooks like granny or the kids, the kitchen no longer adequately accommodates everyone’s participation and changes need to be made. This is especially noticeable once families decide to help each other and become multi-generational. Enlarged work spaces, larger passing areas, accessible work surfaces, storage within universal reach distances, accessible appliances, and flexible and layered lighting are a few of the inclusive changes for the kitchen. A cohesive blend of universal functionality for the abled and disabled with conventional convenience aspects for other family members is the goal guaranteeing a successful and accessible Universal Design kitchen for any home.

Universal Design Kitchen in Austin

Homes with wheelchair accessible kitchens representing a by-product of Universal Design are a predictable necessity for the ever aging population. With the right layout, it is possible to make a home for maintaining the quality of life of the homeowners with disabilities while helping them live a more healthy, safe, and independent life. Kitchens with architectural barrier free layouts are more functional for everyone involved especially when mobility devices are required. Universal Design techniques give everyone a chance for equal independence. These very basic techniques provide adaptations or specialized designs regardless of age, ability, or situation. 

In Universal Design kitchens, the work areas containing the sink and cook top have the capability of moving up and down with the touch of a button further accommodating the seated user or a helpful child. Cleaning is easier because of the adjustable height work and storage areas.  When planning a Universal Design kitchen for anyone, every aspect of the space is considered from the cabinet height to the accessibility of appliances, to the space between cabinets and walls or islands. The principles of Universal Design call for the space to be functional and accessible for everyone in the household. This includes older homeowners with mobility or sight issues, as well as younger members of the family.

ADA Kitchen Cabinetry

Layout and flow is especially considered when planning a Universal Design kitchen space. To promote functionality for all occupants, it is vital to consider every aspect of the design including doors, traffic patterns, and workstations. The universally designed accessible kitchen is one of usability.  People need roll under capability at the sink and at least one food prep area if nowhere else. A clear floor space of 30 x 48 inches is provided in front of each accessible appliance and these areas of approach can overlap especially at the clear 5 foot turning radius. Raised dishwashers offer easier access to dishes and lowered microwaves and other appliances solve other reach distance problems making it easier to live with a disability. 

Increase Your Accessibility

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