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Universal design: What is it and why does it matter?

Old-fashioned design comes with a hefty price tag. But if your home doesn’t incorporate Universal Design, it won’t only affect the re-sale value, it could soon mean you’ll no longer be able to keep living there even if you want to.
Fix It ezine July 2013Let’s face it, none of us is getting any younger. We’re all part of the aging population, but many of us are failing to do anything about it until it’s too late. Right now, it costs the country nearly half a billion dollars every year to accommodate elderly people who are no longer able to continue living in their own homes. 
For not all but many of these New Zealanders, however, there is a solution that may mean they are able to retain their independence for longer – Universal Design.

We’re not talking here just about running ramps up to front doors and having handrails in the toilet. We’re talking about a way of thinking that creates inclusive and liveable environments for all New Zealanders, young and old, able-bodied and disabled.
Universal Design makes “long term economic sense”, according to Andrew Olsen of Lifemark, “otherwise [the next generation’s] bill will be even larger than we are already paying.”
“Why would I design something which prevents part of society from using it?" said Jasmax architect Nick Moyes at New Zealand’s inaugural Universal Design Conference held in June. Why indeed?
Mr Olsen and Mr Moyes were talking about new housing stock, but their comments are just as applicable to existing homes. The good news is that the principles of Universal Design can be simply and inexpensively applied in renovations and by retrofitting. 
Here are two examples showing how rooms can be modified to be accessible to everyone using Universal Design:

The Bathroom

Fix It Universal designs

The Kitchen

Fix It Universal designs

To learn more about Universal Design and how it can work in your home, contact Fix It Renovations or check out these websites:

Lifemark Design

The Centre for Universal Design
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