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How noticeable is Universal Design?

Done right, it isn't. In other words, slapping a wooden ramp on the side of a house isn't technically Universal Design (more like an accident waiting to happen). You don't notice universally designed elements of a home until you're either enjoying or rely on them.

This project portfolio on Houzz represents a fine example of a few points I make regularly about Universal Design (UD). Now that more people are becoming aware of UD, traditional misconceptions come up that it is "ADA" or "will make my house look like a hospital". UD is for anyone, it's kid-friendly and, despite an obvious solution, not only for "aging-in-place" (A phrase we dislike). UD is a solution for enabling "aging" in one's home, or barrier-free living, but suited for anyone who prefers convenience and ease.

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Subliminal Universal Design

You're probably using Universal Design (UD) without knowing it, which is the way it should be because UD done well isn't noticeable, it's simply better, the preferred and convenient choice.

And of all places I saw during an NFL game a few weeks ago this Delta faucet commercial. (Notice they show kid's hands, not just elderly) Delta promotes their touch and motion activated faucets among their "Smart Solutions" kitchen and bath fixtures. All the major manufacturers now carry a universal line of fixtures, but there's a noticeable difference in the marketing, they don't utter the words "Universal Design" or "Aging-in-Place" (a phrase we can't stand because UD benefits are not only for the aging).

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What is CAPS and Why does it matter?


Every industry boasts an alphabet soup of trade designations, so what's so special about CAPS? Maybe avoiding assisted living and saving tens of thousands of dollars in unnecessary annual expenses. CAPS is literally worth knowing.

A general contractor can build pretty much anything, but serving the aging-in-place market requires putting on one's thinking CAPS. BuilderFish is designated by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) as Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS). Given the alphabet soup of industry designations, I know this doesn't mean much so I'll explain why it matters.

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How safe is your home for the long haul?

 



Is your master bedroom upstairs? For most families it's only a question of when, not if, they will need to decide about the living accommodations of an aging loved one, and the overwhelming majority of older Americans prefer to remain in their current homes.

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