Universal design is all about planning to build a new house or modifying an existing one so that all people can live in it and visit comfortably—from the very young to the very old, the able-bodied and those with disabilities. It’s intended to make living easier now and to help you avoid unnecessary hassles and expensive changes down the road.

Many universal design features are obvious, common-sense things:

  • A well-lit, step-free entrance with a 36-inch-wide door with a lever-style handle; an easy-to-operate lock; a sidelight; and no raised threshold
  • A kitchen; at least one bathroom; one room, at least 12 feet by 12 feet, that can be used as a bedroom; and laundry on the first floor
  • A 34-inch clear opening in all doorways
  • Flat or low thresholds in all doorways
  • Lever-style handles on all doors and faucets
  • At least a five-foot-diameter clear turning space in every room.
  • Large rocker-style light switches placed 36 inches to 40 inches above the floor.
  • Electrical outlets and telephone, cable, and modem jacks placed 18 inches to 24 inches above the floor
  • Easy-to-use thermostat and other control panels placed about 48 inches above the floor
  • Kitchen counters or pull-out work boards at various heights
  • Clear counter space to set down dishes next to all appliances and cupboards
  • Adjustable-height kitchen cupboards and pull-out shelves or turntables in corner cabinets
  • Kitchen and laundry appliance controls that are easy to read and reach
  • Adjustable-height handheld showerhead with conveniently placed controls
  • Toilet seat height appropriate for the household
  • At least one full-length or tilting mirror in the bathroom
  • Grab bars near toilet and shower or bath, if walls have been properly reinforced
  • Closet rods reachable from a seated or standing position, or adjustable height rods

If you need financing for a universal design remodel, come to CapEd. We offer affordable loan products that can help.

Copyright 2011 CUNA Inc.

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