Monday, June 25, 2012

Universal Design

What is Universal Design?

Universal Design is the incorporation of structural and non-structural elements into a residence that are attractive and usable by all persons regardless of age, size and ability.  A home designed using these principles simplifies daily life for residents and guests as needs and physical abilities change.  Incorporating Universal Design features into a residence in the pre-construction stage adds little cost relative to the future cost of retrofitting a residence built with traditional design features.  Done well, Universal design becomes a virtually invisible element that benefits any person occupying or utilizing a residence.

Objective - Insure accessibility to the residence for any person including those with different physical abilities.

  • Provide an accessible route of travel from the public sidewalk or street to the primary entrance in the form of a graded path, ramp or driveway to graded path.
  • Provide at least one step free entrance into the home.
  • Provide a 60' x 60' (5' diameter) clearance at the primary entrance to the home

Objective - Improve overall circulation and allow people, furniture and appliances to move with ease in and out of the home.

  • Provide flush thresholds exterior maximum of 1/2 inch beveled, interior maximum 1/4 inch
  • Provide 42" wide hallways with 32" clearance doorways on an accessible route

Objective - Reduce bending, straining and twisting when turning on lights, faucets or when reaching for items on shelves.

  • Include variable height (28" - 42") work surfaces such as counter tops, sinks and/or cook tops in the kitchen
  • 50% of all storage within the home should be less than 54' high
  • Provide structural reinforcement within bathroom walls adjacent to toilet, shower and bathtub for future installation of grab bars
  • Full bathroom on an accessible route including a minimum 60' x 60' turning area, walk in shower and a clear space for use of the sink
  • Include adjustable (36" - 60") rods and shelves within closets
  • Install lever style door handles and faucet handles and rocker panel light switches throughout the home
  • Install electrical panel with top more than 54" above floor and include a minimum 30" x 48" clear floor space in front of panel
  • Install light switches 42" - 48" above the floor, electrical outlets 18" - 24" above the floor and thermostats no more than 48" above the floor.

Objective - Create easy recognition of the junction of floor surfaces and walls to reduce the likelihood of injury.

  • Include color contrasts between the following areas: floor surfaces and trims, stair treads and risers, and counter tops and front edges or cabinet faces
  • Provide smooth, slip resistant flooring.  if carpeted use low density (less than 1/2 inch high pile) with a firm pad

Objective - Allow residents and visitors complete access to home when changing needs or physical abilities occur.

  • Complete single floor living spaces.  Provide entry, kitchen, laundry area, full bath and flex room on primary level of home
  • Flex room should be usable as family room, nursery, playroom, home office or bedroom depending on the needs of the residents
  • Avoid steps between rooms or areas on the primary floor of the residence
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