Universal Design

Universal Design is a worldwide movement based on the idea that all residential environments and products should be easily used and accessed by all members of the family, regardless of their age, size, or physical abilities — throughout their life time. Items that are usable by most people regardless of their ability or disability can be considered universally usable, and this is why every remodeling project should incorporate the principles of Universal Design.

Why this is important:

  • Average life expectancy continues to increase
  • Families are sharing responsibilities of home life
  • Evolving execution of responsibilities
  • A typical family has members of widely varying ages, sizes and abilities, so why design for “one size fits all”
  • We should not be forced to move because our home is not adaptable to family change

The seven principles of Universal Design include:

  • Equitable Use – the design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
  • Flexibility in Use – the design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
  • Simple and Intuitive Use – use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
  • Perceptible Information – the design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.
  • Tolerance for Error – the design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
  • Low Physical Effort – the design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.
  • Size and space for Approach and use – appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of the user’s body size, posture or mobility.

During the early phases of the remodeling project design, a client’s needs should be assessed. Having this discussion will identify barriers that may not seem obvious now but may become issues in time. Universal Remodeling is about making the home more convenient for more people.

John Oetking, owner of A Street Builders, Inc. is a NARI Universal Design Certified Professional (UDCP).