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Incorporate Universal Design when Remodeling

It’s the time of year many find themselves attending family gatherings.  How the family has changed!  People are living longer, in fact, every 8 seconds another baby boomer reaches the milestone of 60.  Its been said, “60 is the new 40.”  Like it, or not, changes to our vision, strength, mobility, even balance occurs as we age.  It will be less expensive to plan for the future and incorporate universal design when remodeling Phoenix, rather than trying to add the needed changes later.

Everyone wants to remain active and independent as long as they can.  They want to “age in place,” and not have to move from their home. Unfortunately the average home has not been universally designed to embrace all of life.  For example, whether one is having to navigate a stroller or a wheelchair, few homes have entries, hallways, or bathrooms that would be easily accessible.

People may think, ‘We are taking care to have good health by getting eating nutritiously and getting the recommended fruits and vegetables in our daily diet with Juice Plus+,’ or, ‘we are young and don’t need to concern ourselves with having a universally designed home.’  You may be younger and have good health, but we are all vulnerable to sudden loss by  accident.  Even more common, is the need for parents to have assisted living.

New terms such as “sandwich generation” is used to describe over 16 million Americans find themselves caring for children AND their parents in their home.  Caregivers are likely to need to provide assistance for 10 years or more for a parent or spouse.   You can make your home more ready to go through your life with you.  It can save you both money and duress to plan ahead and incorporate universal design principles when you remodel.


Here are some significant changes for universal design you can make when you remodel  that will mean a lot when you need them:

  •  Have at least one zero level entry into your home.  Fill in sunken rooms.
  •  Having interior doors with a minimum 32” wide opening and 36” hallways are not only great for wheelchairs to pass through, but also for those carrying laundry baskets!
  • In the kitchen, raise the height of the dishwasher, oven, and have base cabinet shelves roll out; your back will love you for it!  Incorporate visual cues in the floor or countertop to help prevent accidents.
  • Raise the level of the washer and dryer too, as well as electrical outlets.  Faucet and door handles should be levered hardware for ease of use.
  • In the bathroom, brace walls around the tub, shower, and toilet for grab bars. Have anti-scald controls, adjustable/handheld showerhead and a fold down shower seat.
  • Gaining in popularity is having dual master bedrooms in the home, with at least one on the first floor with a universally designed bathroom.  One can be for used for guests, or caretakers if need be when building a guesthouse is not an option.


Be smart and get it done when you don’t need it, and it will be ready when you do. Hire a Certified Aging in Place Specialist, or a Certified Universal Design Remodeler and ask your Remodeler to provide you with a universal design checklist of options to make your home ready for now and future loved one’s needs.


Happy Home Remodeling!

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