Universal Design has its roots in the legislation of the disabilities-rights movement.
It is a series of guidelines and principles to follow in order to allow people with disabilities to live in their homes with as little struggle as possible.
With the advancing age of the Baby Boomers, Universal Design’s relevance and share of the marketplace will continue to grow.
As the Baby Boomer generation, born from 1946 to 1964, has advanced in age, Universal Design has found a new audience. In your search for North Carolina and South Carolina best places to live to relocate or retire you may find Universal Design to be a great option for you.
When many Boomers relocate to their Carolina best places to live, they will need to know how to design a house from the ground up. Now you might be saying….
Bob I’m not going to be building my home when I move to North Carolina or South Carolina.
And that may be true but nevertheless, the principles of Universal Design are worth knowing since you are going to be living in a new home. Already built or not.
And if you are moving to the Carolinas for your retirement…definitely listen up!
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The number of people aged 65 and up will increase by more than 50 percent in the next two decades.
Most people have the desire to stay in their homes for as long as possible. They want to live as comfortably and as independently as possible.
If you’re considering retiring or relocating to North Carolina or South Carolina, this still holds true.
However, according to the Census Bureau, more than half of all seniors will have some limitation concerning their daily activities. These limitations will restrict their ability to live in the home they have grown to love.
What about you? Do you feel that way? Do you want to stay in your home as long as possible as you age?
If proper Universal Design principles are followed from the beginning, it will be more feasible for you, for all of us to age in our homes as we wish, and with a higher quality of life.
Having said all that, how to design a house using Universal Design is not just for the baby boomer generation.
Younger families are also take advantage of these design elements to ensure the ability to stay in their home longer. Let’s face it. It’s a hassle to move. If we’ve uprooted our families and made the move to what we believe to be our best place to live in the Carolinas, who wants to move again?
Chances are if you have the choice you choose to stay in your Dream Home in your best place to live.
And that’s what this is all about.
The Center for Universal Design, based out of North Carolina State University, has outlined seven principles that govern Universal Design:
- creating a space which is usable by people of all abilities
- creating a space that is able to be used for a variety of purposes
- using appliances and features that are simple and intuitive to use
- designing features that communicate necessary information to the user regardless of lighting conditions or the user’s sensory condition
- having a tolerance for error, such as temperature limits on shower handles, which would minimize consequences of misuse or mistaken use
- creating a design that can be used with a minimum of physical effort and fatigue
- and allowing enough size and space around objects for their use, regardless of the user’s body size, posture, or mobility
By following these principles, builders and architects can create living spaces suitable for use by a wide variety of people of all ages, skill levels, abilities and disabilities.
And yes, as we age our abilities will change. Do you want to be walking up a flight of stairs to go to bed each night when you are in your 80′s? And what about those darn kitchen cabinets that I have to use a step stool to get to now?
Universal Design principles manifest themselves in a number of ways throughout the home.
One of the most crucial design traits, which serve both the elderly and those with disabilities or in wheelchairs, is designing the home to be livable on one level, with no steps from the outside to the entrance, as well as from the garage to the home.
Having a master bedroom on the ground floor. As well as a master bath on the ground floor is also crucial. The master bedroom should be large enough to fit two twin beds. What you say?
Relax…there may come a time that you and your partner need ease of entry and exit from the bed to the bathroom. The bathroom is the room that needs the most attention.
Details include having a walk-in shower which is large enough for a wheelchair to maneuver in also equipped with a seat and safety bars.
I’ll tell you this…I’m not a senior citizen however about 6 years ago I had to have heart surgery. I can’t explain how challenging it was for my wife to get me over the side of the tub, sit me down on a temporary stool and give me a shower. Not only was it challenging but it was something I could not have done myself.
Also in the shower, the water controls should be levers rather than knobs, as many older people have trouble with gripping things, and a temperature safety control can help prevent scalding accidents. Again, if you are in any type of physical discomfort, turning a knob rather than working a lever can save you a lot of pain.
The sink should be free of a vanity, so a person can slide under it and easily access the faucets.
Now that you begin to think about it, it all makes sense doesn’t it? And you have the opportunity to look for homes or build your new home in the Carolinas to suit your future needs. And you might find out that it makes your life easier now.
The kitchen is another area which requires attention. Having counters at multiple height levels ensures maximum accessibility, as does raising the level of the dishwasher. Seriously how much do you love bending over to empty the dishwasher?
And what about the refrigerator. Do you have a new one where refrigerated goods are at eye level? Refrigerators with freezers on the bottom, adjustable shelving, tubular handles that run the length of the door, and foot pedal or electric assisted door openings, make accessing it easier for all people.
Having the kitchen located near the garage helps with the unloading of groceries from the car.
In cabinets, the inclusion of a “Lazy Susan” would help if people were unable to reach deep into the spaces. But having roll-out shelves in the kitchen serves a similar purpose in accessing heavier pots and pans.
Some kitchens come with a water spout over the stove to facilitate the filling of pots, without worrying about transporting them from the sink.
Throughout the rest of the home there are many simple ways to ensure ease of use for a long time to come…
- Hallways and Doorways wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair
- Luminous light switches and a built in night light system
- Adjustable closet shelves
- Pull handles rather than knobs
- Eye-level thermostats located in convenient places
- Plenty of outlets and placing them at least 18 inches above the floor
- Emergency call system
- Designing a home with plenty of natural light sources
I’m sure you can come up with a few things of your own as you go through your daily life. Watch for ways to make your life easier now and in the future. Make sure when you relocate or retire to the Carolinas you keep your list handy. Find the house that works best for you or build the home of your dreams.
Not bad things to consider at any age.
See You in the Carolinas!
Robert Bencivenga is a professional site locator and location analyst for major corporations. Robert researches the growth of NC and SC to find the Best Places to Retire or Relocate that are still affordable.
Robert Does Not Sell Real Estate!
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