More home builders, renovators, architects, designers, and manufacturers are incorporating universal design principles. The Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University has formulated several design principles, including: “flexibility in use” to accommodate a wide range of individual preferences; “equitable use” to serve people of diverse abilities; and “simple and intuitive use” that is easy to understand regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level. Universal design is more relevant than ever with the graying population, growing popularity of multigenerational households, and increasing cost of homeownership. Universal design principles have yet to be completely incorporated into any building codes. However, several of its objectives have been adopted. Maryland’s Montgomery County, for instance, has created a program dubbed Design for Life that provides property tax credits to home builders and homeowners who include both “live-ability” and “visit-ability” improvements in new or existing single-family attached and detached homes. Live-ability improvements are eligible for tax credits up to $10,000. It means basically that the home contains a bedroom and kitchen on the first floor. Visit-ability improvements are eligible for tax credits up to $3,000. The term signifies that the residence has at least one “zero clearance” access, meaning that doorway saddles are no higher than 1.5 inches above the surrounding floor. | Read More