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Accessible design in the home building industry just keeps getting bigger and better. I saw that firsthand recently in an entire community of new homes. Accessibility is the name of the game.
There are numerous home building certification programs that are voluntary accessible design programs for home builders. This particular community is Windsong, part of the Seven Hills master planned community in NW Georgia, just outside of Atlanta.
The home builders associated with Windsong are certified by EasyLiving Home. EasyLiving Home is a voluntary accessible design certification program for home builders.
It’s not mere coincidence that the certification program is called EasyLiving Home because the program is all about the meaning of the word “easy”.
I’ll explain. There are basic 3 criteria for EasyLiving Homes (quoting their literature):
- Easy Access: Must have a step-free entrance with a threshold of not more than one-half inch from a driveway, sidewalk or other firm route into the main floor.
- Easy Passage: Must have a minimum of 32 inches of clear passage space for EVERY interior passage door on the main floor (including bathrooms) and the exterior door that provides the step-free entrance.
- Easy Use: Must have no less than one bedroom, a kitchen, some entertainment area and at least one full bathroom with designated maneuvering space… all on the main floor.
If you can manage to build a home under that criteria, you could qualify for EasyLiving Home certification. I’m certain that it’s not quite that simple, but that’s their philosophy.
We walked around a couple of the model homes and one under construction, and I can tell you that they were easy to get around in.
It wasn’t just how the furniture was arranged. It has everything to do with ease of access at entry points throughout the floor plan.
Doorways were noticeably wider than conventional homes, especially bedroom and bathroom doors.
Accessibly designed homes aren’t just for the 55+ retirement crowd. They are designed with everyone in mind. These are active living homes. That sounds a little odd but if you think about it, many older homes have wider doorways than a conventional home.
- Wider doorways = no knucklebusters when using wheelchairs and walkers.
The cool thing about accessible design is that it makes a new home better for everyone without adding substantial costs ($500-$1,000 or less). While I’m thinking about it, Accessible Design is also known as Universal Design. Aging in Place comes to mind. also.
Ed Phillips-Executive VP of Home Builders Association of Georgia states “EasyLiving Homes are easy to build, easy to visit, easy to sell and easy to live in.” The resale value is exceptionally good, even in this economy.
You can see from my photos that there is plenty of room to move around. The homeowner needs to arrange their belongings to allow a free flow leaving plenty of room. Of course, that’s probably something that goes without saying.
The bathroom shower is another area that must meet strict guidelines for ease of access. Notice the shower entry on the floor (photos below). The threshold is no more than one-half inch. Just slide in and slide back out.
Windsong is an award winning community:
- Two time winner of the Customer Satisfaction Award by the Certified Professional Home Builder Program.
- Greater Atlanta Home Builder’s Association’s 28th annual OBIE Awards winner. Recognized for escellence in architectural design and construction in 4 categories.
Here is a quote from the video (above) that explains why EasyLiving Home was conceived.
“EasyLiving Home was conceived and developed by organizations representing the building industry, the government and accessibility advocates.”
EasyLiving Homes can be built on different types of foundations, as well.
- crawl spaces
If you’re in the home shopping market, I would urge you to at least take a look at homes like these. I was very surprised at how nice they are inside. Ease of maintenance is another feature with Hardiplank siding, for starters.
Frank Betz Associates has an entire category of home plans for that are certified EasyLiving Homes.
Read more about Universal Home Design.
Remodeling Your Home for Aging In Place
I started as a home-stalker… visiting brand new homes under construction in the neighborhoods near my house. That inspired me to write about home building and home renovation projects — chronicling homes during different phases of construction from a consumer's point-of-view. Basically, the tips you'll find in my articles are a collection of checklists for what I think should (and should not) go into building or remodeling a quality home.