Equality and Accessibility: Home Renovation and Universal Design

custom designUniversal design for home renovation enables people of all ages, abilities, disabilities and levels of mobility to live equally in a home.

Using this principle to renovate is an investment in people, in the property, and in the future.

Staying in Your Home as You Age

 
One of the most traumatic experiences in a person’s life is having to move out of their home due to old age and mobility limitations. Everyone would like the dignity of living independently and safely in their home for as long as possible.

Consider warding off or delaying this trauma by renovating your home now to accommodate all mobility issues you or your loved ones may encounter in time. Start by thinking like a person with advanced arthritis or a walking frame or wheelchair; renovate to provide just such a person full access and independence. Your home will be very easy to live in now and you will have peace of mind knowing it will be ready should age-related challenges arise.

Universal Home Design Features

If it’s time to renovate your home, think about incorporating these kinds of features to be ready for anything. They can even make your home more valuable should you sell.no step driveway and entryway

  • No-step entry. Remove steps and level the areas around entrances and exits or else add ramps.
  • Widen doorways for wheelchair access.
  • Create open space to provide more room for a person in a wheelchair to navigate.
  • Single-story vs multi-story. Stairs are not easily navigated for those who are elderly or have mobility issues. If you have a multi-story home, consider having a bedroom and bathroom, created on the ground floor, along with the kitchen and living area
  • Drawer cabinets. Instead of reaching up high for things, or bending down and rummaging, cabinets should be installed lower and fitted with slide-out drawers.
    Walk-in bathtubs and showers: Level shower access with no curb to step over that are large enough for a wheelchair.
  • Hand rails in the shower and near the toilet.
  • Toilets that are wheelchair height for easy transition or taller than standard height toilets so that those with mobility issues do not have as far to go to sit down.
  • Non-slip surfaces in the shower and tub. Good for advanced age and also for kids.
  • Sinks and counters set at heights that are good for all ages. You can even have counters that adjust up and down.
  • Lever door handles are much easier for arthritic or weakened hands than door knobs.
  • Rocker light switches instead of knobs.
  • Strong, full-spectrum lighting should vision problems arise. Dimmers will allow you to choose the level you need for every situation.
  • Handrails with lighting for stairways.
  • Non-slip surfaces for stairs, both inside and out.

Invest in Yourself and Your Home

Get expert advice to incorporate universal design features into your renovation. Not only will your home be yours for longer as you get older, you may also increase the value of your asset. Should you or a family member run into health or age-related difficulties, your home will already be able to meet the challenge.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Kerr Construction.

Doug Kerr - the owner of Kerr ConstructionDoug Kerr is the owner of Kerr Construction in Vancouver. With over 25 years of experience in the renovation and new home construction business, he has developed the Kerr System for designing and building. With this Design/Build system he has helped hundreds of clients achieve their dream homes while also winning multiple national and provincial building and renovations awards. Being a former world-class athlete…” Read more.

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1 Comment

  • Christine says:

    My brothers own a custom redesign build company here in Toronto. I really like the setup of your blog and am looking for ideas to help them on their way. I was wondering if you might have any suggestions for them. Does operating a blog help draw in business ?

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