At The Universal Design Project, we believe that there should be a surplus of functional and affordable homes in all communities so people aren’t left struggling to live their life to the fullest because their home wasn’t designed for their needs.
According to the 2011 American Housing Survey, the median year in which homes were built was in 1974. That makes the average home now in 2020, 46 years old!
Data: U.S. Census Bureau
Think about the types of homes that were around in the 1970s and before. Split levels were gaining popularity and there were lots of one-level ranch style homes making their way into new neighborhoods.
We also have to take into account the homes built in the early-to-mid-1900s that have good structural bones and continue to be renovated to entice new buyers.
The idea that someone with a disability might live in these homes wasn’t at the forefront of the design and building professionals’ minds when they were built. This means we are working with a housing stock that’s not easy to modify for accessibility. Granted, ranch style homes have more potential due to the fact that they are on one level, but split-level homes present a lot of challenges for those who need better access due to decreased mobility. Other common home styles have living areas on the main floor and bedrooms on the upper level creating an unfortunate situation for those who need to figure out how to make changes to live safely.
There is a current push in many communities to provide adequate housing to families that experience a disability whether it’s through renovation or new construction. If we know it’s more difficult to renovate homes for accessibility based on our current housing stock, why not start designing and building new homes for people of all abilities to use?
Disability doesn’t discriminate and we can start now by building up a housing stock that’s universally accessible. We have a wonderful opportunity to provide for future generations right now.
If this sounds logical to you, click here if you’re interested in helping us with home designs to make that a reality.