UD = Easy
I begin this series about Universal Design for the home (also referred to as “barrier-free living”) with a general definition of UD as it applies to products, services and environments. Even if you’ve never heard of it, you’re likely familiar with UD if you’ve ever used an electric toothbrush, Velcro, automatic doors, audio book or Google.
If you remember ONLY ONE thing, recall the title of this post and you’ll have a good handle on Universal Design. UD is “universal” in that MOST people in any stage of life (children to elderly) regardless of personal circumstances or abilities can use its features and application with minimal effort and low probability of mistakes (i.e. margin for error, easy to figure out without an instruction manual or demonstration).
As it pertains to construction and the following tutorials, UD can be both a feature (e.g. zero step entry, curb-less shower, wider doorways) or application/method (e.g. height of outlets/switches, removal of tripping hazards, color contrasts to warn or cue).
I emphasize that UD in custom building or remodeling is NOT a reinvention of standard construction techniques; it’s “special” only in its proactive approach for not doing things the same old way. You may not realize that many things in home building are completed “just because” that’s the way it’s always been done or taught from one generation to the next. For instance, building a zero-step entry isn’t rocket science; it’s simply NOT building steps and determining a different WAY of implementing a zero clearance entry (e.g. moving dirt, lowering the foundation, access via a garage, etc.) So it’s nothing fancy or necessarily innovative (although it can be), practicing UD merely involves forethought of the long term, a different way of solving a standard problem (getting to the second floor) or meeting a typical goal (access). At BuilderFish, we call it “thinking mans construction” and we’re passionate about ensuring comfort, convenience and control for owners who want a “home for a lifetime”.
The following posts will give you ideas and alternatives around your house, including what you should consider along the path leading to your preferred entrance , because you first have to get TO the door before you can get THROUGH the door.
And remember UD = EZ !