With consumers spending more time in their homes than ever before, Susan Duncan and Beth Taylor discuss the importance of universal design for all homeowners, regardless of age, ability or circumstance.
The following is a transcript of the video "The Demographic Shift: A PCBC Conversation" :
Nigel: So Beth, you're a trends forecaster, and you do research into different topics. So what is going on now that affects universal design and accessibility in terms of demographic shift, numbers, age in population, and that sort of thing?
Beth: I think the two biggest trendsetter happening right now, and they are universal to all generations, is that we are staying in our homes longer. We're staying in our homes an average of 13 years, which is the longest it's been in history, and then the consumers also spending more time in their homes. So both of those trends tells us that the consumer today is looking for their homes to work harder for them and work smarter. Their expectations of what their homes are to them have become more important to them.
They're looking for their homes to not only protect and serve them, and shelter them, but they're looking for their homes to nurture them, and refresh them, and re-energize them. We're starting to put attributes to home such as retreats and oases and refuges and hives and sanctuaries. And today's consumer really is looking for that respite from the busy, noisy, 24/7 workday situation.
Nigel: So Susan, you know, in a nutshell, why is universal design important beyond someone in a wheelchair or someone with a walker?
Susan: That's a great question because we look at Universal Design as being an approach to design that anticipates diversity in our abilities moving forward. So it's a proactive approach to design. Accessible design is often referred to as being customization for an individual. So it's very important if we can be preventative medicine, if you will, for the home and look at universal design being integrated at the beginning, we won't see as many modifications or remodels to customize something afterwards.
Nigel: So, in theory then, a universal design house would benefit someone who's perfectly healthy and young?
Susan: Absolutely. It's seamless.
Nigel: So give me some features that might be included in a universal design kitchen or bathroom?
Susan: So in a kitchen or bathroom?
Susan: So in a bathroom, a curbless shower and we would offset a valve, and so the valve would be offset so it's easier to reach.
Nigel: So it's not in the back, it's to the side.
Susan: Exactly. So it's on the head wall, and so you can easily just reach in and turn it on and not have to reach into that. So a curbless shower would be one of those universal features. Looking at circulation in the bathroom, making sure that you have a minimum of five feet in turning. In universal Design, we like to go more with the ADA. It's very prescriptive with the standards, and so there's regulations in a commercial environment about what to do for those standards, not with universal design because it's all voluntary approach to that.
So wall hanging, a vanity, for example, helps open up the floor space to be able to maneuver and get your knees under it should you need to use mobility equipment in the future, wider doorways going into the bathroom, looking at contrasts with the elements, so the grab bar contrasts if somebody's using one in the future. But in UD, we want to put in reinforcement in the wall to be prepared should somebody want to use a grab bar.