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Universal Design–Homes Built for Everyone



According to a study completed by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in 2013, the universal designaverage American lives in their home 11-15 years. As many people age, they find that their homes are no longer assessable to their new physical needs and restrictions. With Habitat for Humanity of St. Charles County, our goal is to build simple, decent, affordable homes for all—which includes being able to provide long-term housing solutions for our partner families.

What is ‘Universal Design’? Universal design provides a focus on accessible living for all ages and physical abilities of those residing in the home. For example, using levers instead of knobs, , and constructing all of this on a one-story level home without large steps or severe changes in floor height.

How we’re making universal design flexible for our families. Construction Manager, Tony Bradbury, assisted in the overall concept of creating a universal design home for two families this year. Because each family size and need is different, the homes will be constructed based on their individual circumstances. Here are the overall design altercations for our universal builds:

Hallways and lights. The entrance to the homes will be a no-step zero entrance, with widened hallways to 4’ and a turn radius at necessary points in the hallway and bathrooms. All passable doorways will have up to a 3’ opening and outlets and switches will be moved to more accessible locations.

Kitchen. Each kitchen will have varied counter heights, lower storage and accessibility, and an overall better workflow.

Bathrooms. There will be a roll in shower in one of the bathrooms, as well as a roll under vanity in one bathroom.

Garage. Each garage will be widened to accommodate a vehicle with a lift device.

The construction of these homes will be the first built by Habitat for Humanity of St. Charles County and expected to be completed by the beginning of 2017. Interested in learning more about our builds and volunteering on our construction site? Fill out a Volunteer Interest form.


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