Universal Design for Homes


What is Universal Design?

Universal Design housing refers to homes that are practical and flexible, and which meet the needs of people of different ages and abilities over time. A universally designed home generally avoids barriers that may discriminate against people living in or visiting the home. Universal housing is designed to be useable by most people over their lifetime without the need for major adaptation or specialized design.

Seven Principles of Universal Design

  • Equitable Use: The design is useful and marketable to any group of users.
  • Flexibility in Use: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
  • Simple and Intuitive Use: Use of the design is easy to understand.
  • Perceptible Information: The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user.
  • Tolerance for Error: The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintentional actions.
  • Low Physical Effort: The design can be used efficiently and comfortably.
  • Size and Space for Approach and Use: Appropriate size and space is provided for approach and use.

What are the Key Design Features?

The guidelines include design principles and spatial requirements for the following key design features:

  • Direct access
  • Space for car parking
  • Wide front door
  • Wide internal doors
  • Wide corridors
  • Main facilities on the ground level
  • Circulation space in the living room
  • Space in the bedroom
  • Bathroom designed for easy and independent access
  • Enough space in the kitchen
  • Enough space in the laundry
  • Low window sills

Three Design Points to Consider Before You Build!

  • Easy Access: A step-free entrance with a threshold of not more than one-half inch into to the main living area.
  • Easy Passage: The exterior door that provides the step-free entrance and all interior doorways are a 2’10” or 3’0” door or other solution that allows a minimum of 32” clear passage.
  • Easy Use: No less than one bedroom, a kitchen, some entertainment area and at least one full bathroom with maneuvering space of 30” x 48” in front of commode, sink and tub or shower, all on the main floor.

Universal Design Handbook

Download the Universal Design Handbook, by the North Carolina State University College of Design.

Home Residential & Green Building Universal Design for Homes
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