Fortunately, universal design is beginning to take root in modern home design. Ron Mace, Founder and Program Director of the Center for Universal Design, give us the following definition of UD The intent of universal design is to simplify life for everyone by making products, communications, and the built environment more usable by as many people as possible at little or no extra cost. Universal design benefits people of all ages and abilities. Because the principles of universal design are inclusive for people with disabilities, the application of UD in home design is appropriate and addresses many of the needs of people who wish to age in place.
For example, the needs of a child and his / her ability to live comfortably in the home are rarely addressed at the design stage. Its necessary to evaluate the childs current abilities and design an environment that works and grows with the child. Some easy adaptive design elements would include adjustable shelves and rods in the closet. As the child grows, the shelves and rods can be moved to better accommodate their reach. Appliances present a similar situation as it is necessary for the controls to be accessible. Front mounted controls on washing machines and dryers enable their use. Safety also comes into play. A child trying to use a microwave placed overhead is a recipe for disaster! Of course, the above example is very simple, but it illustrates the point that design needs to be done from the perspective of the individual and his / her ability to carry out daily routines in the home. This is why a good designer will perform an assessment of the client and specify the needed design modifications.
Therefore, when youre looking to select a designer its also advisable to consider exactly how they show their designs to their clientele. Not everybody can easily figure out a conceptual drawing of a 2D floor plan. In fact ultimately it will come right down to what home designer you sense you might have more suitable connection with and you feel the most confident with.
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.
There are a couple of tools that a designer can use to evaluate the needs of their clients. One of those tools is the Comprehensive Assessment and Solution Process for Aging Residents (CASPAR). CASPAR was designed for healthcare professionals to evaluate their clients ability to carry out routine activities in the home. This is also useful in determining the requirements of people who have disabilities.