Cool Universal Design Could Save Home Buyers Money In The Long Run

Let’s face it, buying a home is an expensive prop0sition. There are different ways to try to save some money when buying a home.  One of the issues I see is home buyers not thinking of the future when buying a home. Home buyers don’t think about how a home could save them money over time. Home buyers want a “deal” when first buying a home, which is not surprising, but they often don’t think about how well a home could work for them.  There are a few different ways to think about how a home could be more cost effective over time.

For example, most people don’t think about the floor plan or how easy it is to live in a home.  Think of buying a home that’s a great deal, but has 4 levels, meaning a lot of running up and down stairs.  This style of home is great, but can get tiring, literally and physically.  It gets old after awhile when you have to cart groceries and laundry up and down stairs.  Most home buyers don’t think about a floor plan that’s easy to live with over many years.  But there are floor plans out there that work for a lot of people and a lot of lifestyles.

Enter “Aging In Place.”  The name suggests we’re talking about older people who want to stay in their homes.  But “Aging in Place”  has another term associated with it, Universal Design, design that works for everyone, young and old alike.  The teen who breaks a leg playing soccer or the Mom who is navigating the front doorway into a home with a baby stroller and packages are all people who benefit from “universal design,” design for everyone.

Most people think aging in place or universal design has too many restrictions to be attractive to multi-generations.  This is not true, if a home is designed and done right.  The Aging Well Consortium blog has terrific photos of a variety of homes with universal design elements.  The design would easily appeal to most buyers who live on Seattle’s eastside.  Plus if universal design features are incorporated into a home when it’s built, it’s not any more expensive to build.

Kitchen with Universal Design Features

Gourmet Kitchen with Wider Passageway

Maybe one way to save money over time when buying a home is to look at a home as truly a long term investment, a home that works for you no matter what may change in your life. Few home buyers ever do this.  Moving can be expensive when you’re selling a home and buying a new home because you no longer can stay in your home.  Think about it.

What do you think?

(Photos from  Zai architect Emory Baldwin’s home.)

Posted on August 26, 2010 at 7:45 pm
The Beaupain Team | Posted in Architecture, Boomer issues, For Buyers, For Homeowners, Real Estate | Tagged , , , , ,

Universal Design or "Aging In Place"-Find Out More At The Seattle Home Show

“Aging in place?” Yes, we’re all aging, even as we just stand in place, but “aging in place” is really about growing older safely and comfortably in the familiar surroundings of your home.  Since no one gets out of “here” without aging first, except Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, this post is for all us,  our friends, family, parents, etc.   Even if you’re a twenty something today, you’ll be thinking about these issues sooner for family members and, later, for yourself. Some boomers are now in their mid-60’s, so it’s definitely time for both boomers and their families to think about where the boomer generation wants to live comfortably and safely.  So listen up, it won’t cost you anything.

Aging in place has a number of different and similar names, such as universal design, barrier-free living or accessible design.

universal design boils down to making housing spaces and commonly used features more accessible to the broadest range of occupants.

Universal design works not just for the aging, but comfortably for everyone, hence the design qualities are “universal.”  The person navigating a front stoop with a baby carriage would benefit from a level threshold, just as someone who has difficulty walking, which is the beauty of universal design.

Easy, level home entry

Level Entry-Universal Design

Universal designed entryway

Completely level entry which works for everyone

Dwell Magazine had a good post explaining Universal Design concepts. It’s great to see such a “hip” magazine promoting Universal Design.

Would you like to learn more about aging in place from some local experts?

If you attend next week’s  Seattle Home Show, Emory Baldwin, Mike Vowels and Tom Minty will be presenting two seminars at the show, together with Andrea Petzel of the City of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development.  Their talk is about “Backyard Cottages: A Sustainable Approach to Adding Housing Capacity,” using a universally designed backyard cottage for changing family needs.

Two presentations will be given one on Tuesday, February 23rd at 12:30 PM, and then again on Saturday, February 27th at 11:30 AM.

You’ll also find him on Seattle Home Show’s Idea Street.

Emory Baldwin is something of an expert on Universal Design. AARP and the NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) recognize great universal design by picking 10 nicely crafted universal design features/homes/buildings each year. Emory Baldwin has been noticed again for the great universal design elements of his own home.  ZAI, Inc,  Mr. Baldwin’s firm is front and center with universal design.  Since he is an expert in the field, this is a great opportunity to learn more about the topic.

Posted on February 18, 2010 at 6:37 pm
The Beaupain Team | Posted in Boomer issues, Real Estate | Tagged , , ,