Adaptable design is different in concept from universal design. Where universal design benefits people of all ages and abilities, adaptable design allows the home to be modified for a specific need. An example of adaptable design would be designing a two-story home with stacked closets a closet on the first floor directly below and aligned with a closet on the second floor so that a residential elevator or lift could easily be installed in the future. In contrast, a universal design item might be the installation of lever door handles that are easier to use for people who have lost the ability to grip a standard round door knob. These lever handles also benefit anyone who may have their hands full with groceries and want to release the door latch by using their forearm or elbow, for example. Children also have an easier time using lever door handles.
Does this level of service cost more? Yes, probably. But a couple hundred dollars up front to hire a qualified designer who will accurately assess your lifestyle and evaluate your future needs, pales in comparison to leaving your design to chance. The number one secret to good home design is to avoid cutting costs at this stage of your project and find a home designer who is an expert in assessing your needs and applying the design criteria that will make your house a home for a lifetime.
Room design and furnishings are not the only ways to modernize a home, however. Many homeowners are choosing to add additions to their homes to accommodate relatives or borders in addition to extra rooms, such as laundry rooms off of the kitchen or entertainment rooms the whole family can enjoy. Environmentally friendly features are also popular that help to brighten the home, save money and improve the environment. Solar paneled windows and energy efficient doors can really help to insulate a home and make it cost effective.
Distinguishing between universal and adaptable design may seem difficult at first, but when one realizes that these principles have less to do about the installation of specific items and are more about a designers perspective, it all begins to make better sense. And the designers perspective is heavily influenced by a thorough client assessment.
Most home designers will have some type of discovery process that will help identify the basics for your home design. It will start with the configuration of your lot and proceed through items such as privacy requirements, work areas, outdoor spaces, etc. Although this process is critical to your project, it rarely drills down enough to transform your design into a home that will serve your needs for a lifetime. Here are two keys of good home design that must be addressed up-front: a) assessing the homeowners current needs; and, b) anticipating the future needs of people living in the home. Before you say Yeah, yeah...Ive heard this all before! lets take a closer look at what current needs entail.