Universal Design

No one is able to always foresee what will be important to them in 6 weeks, 6 years or decades in the future. However, with guid- ance from a skilled architect, challenges that may arise with the space can be identifiedand adjusted. A common example of this that we see everyday, outside of our homes, in- clude sidewalk ramps or curb cuts. They are designed for all users.

This sounds intuitive, and that’s the point– but Universal Design is not the top prior- ity for home designers. As you might think, homes are not built to grow with individualsthey are sold again and again over a period of generations. At Synergy Architects, our goal is to make sure that the design is uni- versal, but that the individual’s specific needs are met.

Home design of 20 or 30 years ago didn’t even consider accessibility or maneuverabil- ity. Many older homes are difficult to maneu- ver with a walker, let alone if you have an additional person trying to help you. Today there is more awareness in general, buttoo many 55+ homes are actually more of a “builder’s special” than a universal design. This is a problem because the consumersare led to believe that these homes have been properly designed for them.

Terms like “single floor living plan” are thrown around with maybe a grab bar here or there. People don’t recognize that these things are not nearly enough until they have an issue. By then, they are already in place, after selling their home of 40 or 50 years and settling in for the duration.

Recent work with a mother and retired housekeeper on her bathroom shows how important it is to build with Universal Design in mind. “I want to live more comfortably in the next part of my life”, she says, after a lifetime of making sure that others in her home and other homes were happy and comfortable. “Staying in my home as long as I can is important to me. If I need nursing care, I would rather they come to me when the time comes.”


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