Should We Design Our New Home To Be a Handicap Accessible Home?

Are you preparing to design and build a new home; or are you planning to purchase a custom built home in a new home community? If you have been reading about recent home trends, you have probably heard about popular new accessible homes that employ “universal design” principles or “aging in place” design strategies. These homes have been designed specifically with the 50+ population in mind as they purchase new homes and plan ahead for retirement years. Do you think you would be interested in owning a home designed to be a handicap accessible home?

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Zero step entry handicap accessible home using universal design

Many experts in both the housing industry and the medical profession believe that applying universal design principles to every new home is a wise financial investment and a smart plan for the future. Let me tell you why this is good advice, by sharing a true story.

One Family’s Solution to Having a Handicap Accessible Home

A 50+ couple living in a medium-sized two story home in a northwest Metro Atlanta suburb learned that one of their mothers was planning to relocate to the Atlanta area. They looked forward with anticipation to her arrival, but there was one significant problem — as a polio sufferer in childhood, their mother was now wheelchair bound. Initially after her move to Atlanta she managed acceptably well, gaining access to their home by taking a few steps at a time. This arrangement became increasingly more difficult, and eventually the couple contacted a home accessibility expert to evaluate options for them, such as a ramp, stair lift or a platform lift.

After the CAPS certified home accessibility expert took measurements and presented the homeowners with cost estimates, they decided to add a large wood ramp at the rear of the home. The couple’s mother was especially fond of this option because she was able to drive up, get in her motorized chair, and roll right up and into the home. Best of all, the ramp was completed just in time to celebrate Thanksgiving Day together as a family!

Preventing a Home Accessibility Dilemma with Universal Design

How could this accessibility dilemma have been prevented? It could have been prevented if the original builder had designed the home to be a handicap accessible home to begin with, by applying one specific universal design principle – including a zero-step entry in the plans. A zero-step entry is an entrance into the home with a smooth transition from the car to the home.

The second main universal design principle home builders are well-advised to include in handicap accessible home plans is a full bedroom and bath on the main floor of the home. Visiting family members and friends who are elderly or infirm; or a loved one who is suffering from a temporary or long term disability, will be very grateful for the comfort, convenience and safety of the main floor accommodations.

These two items — the zero-step entry and first floor living accommodations are all that is required to have a new home designed to be a handicap accessible home. Future generations will benefit as we thoughtfully plan, design and build these universal design principles into our new homes.

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