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Residential Remodeling and Universal Design: Making Homes More Comfortable and Accessible, 1996


Report Acceptance Date: May 1996 (125 pages)

Posted Date: May 01, 1996

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As the "baby boomers" grow older and society becomes increasingly aware of the needs of people with physical limitations, the housing industry is recognizing the importance of a "universal" approach to residential design that modifies standard building elements to improve a home's accessibility and usability. A new resource guide from HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research, Residential Remodeling and Universal Design: Making Homes More Comfortable and Accessible, provides technical guidance on selecting and installing universal features during home remodeling or renovation. Modifications can range from selecting different faucet handles or doorway dimensions to replacing kitchen appliances and bathroom fixtures.

The guide emphasizes eliminating unintentional barriers and employing designs and features usable by persons with a broad range of needs. The most common barriers include narrow doorways, lack of adequate lighting, fixtures and controls placed too low or too high, lack of handrails, and steps at entrances. Universal design increases accessibility for persons with physical limitations and provides flexibility necessary to add features such as lifts, ramps, and handrails if desired at a later date. This flexibility can increase a home's marketability, particularly to elderly persons and those with physical limitations. This market will become increasingly important over the next 30 years, as the share of the U.S. population over 65 increases from the current 12 percent to more than 20 percent.

Residential Remodeling and Universal Design describes potential benefits of design features, suggests alternative solutions, and provides installation suggestions. It is a handy resource for the housing professional and the do-it-yourselfer alike. Its clear descriptions and abundant graphics can help homeowners plan remodeling or rehabilitation projects.


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