Have You Considered The “What If” Factor Into Your Remodeling Plans?
Have you ever seen a sports car try and get up a curb to access a driveway, or large trucks try to fit in a parking garage? It doesn’t go very well. This leaves the driver frustrated and unable to access the location they desire. Often times our homes can have the same shortcomings. Most homes have not been designed with accessibility in mind. Have you every helped an elderly person with a walker make it up even a small step, or someone in a wheelchair squeeze through a tight door / hallway. I would strongly encourage anyone who is considering a remodel to look at the potential with new perspective, the “what if” perspective. “What if” we get injured and are in a wheel chair, “what if” our aging family member comes to live with us, “what if” we have a friend with a disability over for dinner. These are all real life scenarios that we will all face at some time in our lives.
Thinking about the “what if’s” in life will give you the opportunity to create a truly functional and accessible space now and for years to come. I am constantly telling people to consider the fact that if you can get a wheel chair through a door that it will be far more comfortable to make it through with groceries or a laundry basket. I have yet to hear someone complain about the step into a house or shower not being tall enough, or hallways being too wide. The fact of the matter is that if you can easily incorporate universal design into your remodel, you will not regret it. The truth is that universal design isn’t just for when the “what if’s” in life hit us. Realistically, most of us will not have to worry about accessibility in the home we are currently in or even the homes we will own in the future, but consider all of the benefits of an accessible home. A home with an open and flowing floor plan is often more comfortable and inviting to those who live there and their guests. A large open kitchen is easy to entertain in and cook in from day to day. A bathroom with an oversized shower and open layout will feel like a luxury hotel.
Where designing around universal design will make your home more comfortable and accessible it is important to remember that it may not always work in every space. I strongly encourage anyone considering a remodel to integrate as much universal design into their home as possible, but to know that limitations of your home. If your home has 20 steps to the front door and the master bed / bath is on the 2nd floor it is probably not necessary to have a true barrier free shower with a rolling buttress. If you have an older home with a small galley kitchen it may be cost prohibitive to reconfigure the space completely for universal design.
This is where the single most important decision you make (hiring the right contractor) will come into play. Finding the right contractor can help you navigate the conflict over needs, wants, and desires with in a budget. An experienced contractor will also be able to work with you to get the most out of your space. Your contractor will need to have the experience and knowledge to create the space you desire within your budget. When the time comes to hire a contractor make sure you do your homework. Check with their references, see their work, and talk with them about integrating universal design into your project. You will be happy that you did.
A.C.T. Builders, LLC.
–Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS)
Chairman of the Remodelers Of Clark County