New Home Tips, Trends, and Ideas - Raleigh Custom Home Builders

Is Universal Design Right For You? Questions to Ask

Posted by Penny Hull on Thu, Mar 24, 2011 @ 06:03 AM

Considering a Universal Design New Home

Questions to Ask about Universal Design

As families adapt their lifestyle to include children, the elderly or people inconvenienced by a temporary or permanent disability, incorporating universal design into their new home floor plan makes life easier for everyone.

Universal design homes are planned with future needs in mind – so that no matter what kind of disability may afflict the homeowners or their households, your home will “plan ahead” to accommodate it.

When you sit down with your builder to talk about a universal design custom home, the answers to these kinds of questions can help you create the kind of floor plan that will meet all your needs:

  • Will someone need to sit while preparing meals or at the bathroom vanity?
  • Do you have children who will need to be able to help in the kitchen?
  • Will getting in and out of the tub or shower be a problem?
  • Is everyone able to turn a doorknob?
  • Do you need to be able to maneuver a wheelchair?
  • Can every adult reach – and see – the thermostat?
  • Will you need to be able to vary the height of special lighting?
  • Do you plan to live in the home as your family needs change?
  • Is it possible that an elderly relative might move in with you?
  • Is this the home you’d like to retire in?

Answers to these types of questions can help determine the kinds of adaptations you’ll want to discuss with your builder, as you consider the advantages of a universal design.

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Tags: Raleigh accessible home, universal design homes, Universal Design Home Builders, New Accessible Homes, Wheelchair Accessible Home Builders, universal design ideas

Choosing the Right Lot for your Universal Design or Accessible Home

Posted by Penny Hull on Mon, Feb 07, 2011 @ 06:02 AM

How to Choose the Right Lot for your New Home

Universal Design and Accessible Homes:  What to Look For

How to Choose a Lot for Universal Design Homes | Custom Accessible Home BuildersLooking for a lot for your new Universal Design home requires even more foresight than a traditional custom home. Here’s what to keep in mind to help ensure the special features that make your home easy to use don’t end up costing a lot more than you’re ready for.

No reputable builder can tell you the final cost for your new home until he knows where it’s being built, and what work on the lot will entail.

If you have a new home plan in mind, the lot needs to be able to fit it. If you have some flexibility in your final design decisions, you have more options – but it’s still important to know the overall cost of construction can be dramatically different when a lot isn’t compatible to a Universal Design home.

Here’s what you need to know:

Lot size:

Smaller lots usually require multi-story homes – which necessitate the use of a stairway or elevator.

Lot slope:

A flat or gentle slope is the best terrain for a universal design home.

Steep slopes are usually more suited to a split-level home or daylight basement home. Since an accessible home requires that a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen all be located on a single level, this could require a much broader footprint for one of the levels. Due to the nature of a split level home, each level would also require a separate stairway or elevator – the floor cannot be navigated with a single system. If you opt to move dirt in order to avoid a split-level home, find out how much that will cost before committing to the lot.

Site conditions:

Soil: Sandy soil is the best natural soil for construction. Heavier silts and softer clay may require additional work, especially if a septic system is required. The cost of additional fill may be even higher to complete accessibility requirements.

Water: Foundation footings and slabs need to sit above the water table (depth where water sits year-round.) If the site has a high water table, your builder will need to fill to raise the grade. This also could necessitate extra cost, in maintaining accessibility to at least one entrance.

Building Envelope: Set-back, side-yard requirements and no-building areas may mean the lot is not as big as it appears, in terms of usable space. This could mean that the one-story home you have in mind cannot be built on the lot you have in mind.

When your Universal Design builder inspects your lot, he will be able to show you what it will take to orient a home on the site.  Ask an experienced accessible home builder to inspect the lot before you buy.

How to Choose a Lot for Universal Design Homes | Custom Accessible Home BuildersIf you love the lot, be prepared for possible changes to your floor plan, including basics such as moving the parking area from the low side to the high side of the home.

In addition to the special needs inside the home, the lot also needs to accommodate a smooth transition into the home through level or step-less entrances.

Just as the property may need to have dirt moved in order to provide its Universal Design interior, exterior access may require bridges, ramps, berms, or sloped walkways.

If the home is built so that the ground slopes upward to it, grading can ease the incline with gently rising pathways. Your builder may also recommend that a berm be created alongside the home, in order to accommodate a paved ramp. 

Don’t forget to make sure you’re thinking beyond your Universal Design home, itself, when considering the usability of your lot!

It's not as hard as it sounds, with the help of an experienced accessible home builder.

*Universal Design (UD) (encompassing “aging in place,” “accessible living,” and “barrier-free living”) is an approach to building that makes everyday actions easier.

Universal Design meets the needs of the present and the future.

Consider universal design concepts for your next home - universal design is most cost efficient and effective when incorporated directly into your new home.

Read More Universal Design and Accessible Home Topics:

Accessible Home Builders | Universal Design Custom Home BuildersSpecially Adapted Housing for Veterans and Servicemembers - How to Get Started

How to Get Started Looking for an Accessible Home

Door and Hallway Requirements for Accessible Homes

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Tags: universal design homes, Universal Design Home Builders, accessible homes, nc custom home builder, accessible home design, New Accessible Homes, Wheelchair Accessible Home Builders

Getting into a Universal Design home: Entrances, Walkways, and Lighting

Posted by Penny Hull on Wed, Feb 02, 2011 @ 06:02 AM

Universal Design Home Builders | Accessible Home Design

Entrance, Walkways, and Lighting for Universal Design Homes

Getting in and out of your Universal Design home begins with its entrance, walkways and lighting. Here’s what you need to know – with tips on questions to ask an accessible home builder:

Universal Design Home Builders | Accessible Home Design

Entrance

  • At least one entrance that doesn’t require steps
    • Porch floor, stoop, or landing should be at the same level as the floor inside the home (see the photo above for an example of no-step entry homes)
  • Exterior door at least 35 inches wide
    • Eye-level peephole for adults, children, and wheelchair access
    • Lever or D-shaped door handle
    • Easy-to-reach, lighted doorbell or intercom
  • Flat threshold
  • No slip flooring
  • Large, simple typeface house numbers 60 inches off the floor
  • Overhead covering (roof extension, overhang or awning)
  • Chair, small table, bench or shelf by the door

Universal Design Home Builders | Accessible Home Design

Walkways

  • Textured
  • Nonslip
  • Level or gradually sloping
  • 36 inches to 66 inches wide
  • Concrete or other solid surface material
  • Ramps (see an example of a new home wheelchair ramp, below)
    • No more than one inch rise for each 12 inches in length
    • Five foot landing at top and wherever ramp changes direction
    • Handrails on both sides that can be gripped while sitting and standing

Universal Design Home Builders | Accessible Home Design

Lighting

  • Small, low-voltage lights that illuminate walkways, with extra lights as elevation changes
  • Covered light fixtures above eye level at entrance to minimize glare
  • Illuminate door handle, lockset and house numbers 

Ask your accessible home builder about these additional considerations:

  • Placement of the home that does not require ramps
  • Several fixtures such as scones or hanging lanterns
  • Recess lights in the underside of eaves or roof overhang
  • Perimeter area spotlights directed at walls, dark corners and garages
  • Motion or light sensor that switches on and off automatically
  • Door locks that are easy to operate, such as keyless locks with remote control, push-button or keypad
  • Intercom system—connected to phone or stand-alone
  • Passive or active solar heating (e.g., south facing windows)

Universal Design (UD) (encompassing “aging in place,” “accessible living,” and “barrier-free living”) is an approach to building that makes everyday actions easier.


Experienced Accessible Home Builders –

Stanton Homes is an industry leading accessible, universal, certified Aging in Place and VA-approved Specially Adapted Housing custom home builder.

Whether you start with a plan that is designed for accessibility, ask us to modify or create a new plan, we can build in wider hallways and doorways, entry ways, turning radius, non-slip flooring, ramps and walkways, special lighting, roll out or pull out shelving, easy grope door, faucet and drawers, accessible switches, no step entries, roll-in showers, ADA roll-under countertops and work spaces, and whatever else you need.  

Get help finding an accessible home floor plan in North Carolina, here.

Universal Design Home Builders | Accessible Home Design

(See photos of NC accessible homes - like this version of the Scottsdale, with wider hallways, doorways, and entrances.)

Tags: universal design homes, Universal Design Home Builders, accessible homes, nc custom home builder, accessible home design, New Accessible Homes, Wheelchair Accessible Home Builders