but also add to the reduction of electric light used. Using low-water toilets saves water with every flush, which adds up over time. Tankless water heaters, too, reduce water consumption.
Interior finishes of universally-designed properties incorporate recycled or repurposed materials like barn doors on tracks as a dramatic entrance to the master suite. Engineered surfaces are growing in popularity because of their resistance to scratches, stains, mold, mildew, heat, and stains. They can withstand family living at any phase, which makes them a perfect complement to Universal Design.
Universal Design may also be incorporated in the exterior of the home. In the yard, drip irrigation and low-water plants add to the environmental conscience of a home plan. Intentionally designing overhangs to shade the home from the summer sun helps reduce electrical consumption, too.
The modern family is not only environmentally conscious but technologically savvy as well. The universally-designed home will employ lights on touch dimmers and timers. It also embraces a central control of all home systems using smart phone compatibility. Everything from thermostats to garage doors will have smart technology connectedness in the home. A central docking hub that is invisible in the main living or kitchen space allows the family to keep all unsightly charging cords out of view while adults can easily manage kids’ technology usage by getting their devices out of bedrooms and into a central location for charging. Automated door openers offer full hands a reprieve from digging out the elusive house key, and that’s a feature any mom or dad of young children will be excited about!
Universal Design makes areas multifunctional for families so that the home’s square footage is, indeed, timeless. Master closets can be dually purposed as a safe room for emergency shelter; a kitchen’s butler pantry may not only house small appliances and non-perishable goods, but also a large sink for dirty dishes while entertaining, leaving the main kitchen clutter-free and the host free to enjoy his or her guests. Laundry rooms offer counter space for not only folding laundry but for a small home office or gift wrapping station.
A separate exterior entrance to a bedroom suite gives many options for college-age students who want to feel independent, for aging parents who may need to live with their children yet maintain autonomy, or for extended-stay company that appreciates privacy. A well-planned, extra exterior door is a relatively simple yet profound step in making a home sustainable.
Touch faucet technology allows the serious cook to save water with the touch of an elbow while the growing child gains independence in teeth brushing or handwashing. The open bathroom shower concept includes a large tiled floor space without a curb and houses both the tub and shower space. This helps alleviate some of the challenges of surgery recovery or eldercare. Clean-up is much simpler without the pesky nooks and crannies of curbed shower entries. Handheld showers are convenient whether washing the family pet, a squirmy toddler, or one’s own back.
Homebuilding at its finest envisions the homeowner not only in the present but in the future as well. By anticipating and building proactively, regrets and reactive remodeling can be avoided. As builders we can lead our industry by building homes for the ages that embrace Universal Design elements.