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Home Sense

How Universal Design Can Help You ‘Age in Place’

For many Americans, approaching retirement also means getting ready for another major life transition – purchasing a new home. That’s because features like stairs, narrow hallways and small bathrooms can become difficult to navigate as you age.

But what if you could have your “forever” home now?

Universal design is a new architectural science that makes this possible. It helps builders create homes that are livable for people of all ages, including those with disabilities and mobility issues. While it’s not considered a one-size-fits-all approach, incorporating elements of universal design can make your home functional no matter what stage of life you’re in. 

Design features such as wider hallways, integrated grab bars and fewer steps can make your home functional for everyone, giving you the chance to stay in your current house without worrying about future accessibility.

Here’s why universal design could change the way you think about your next home purchase or remodel.

Universal Design is flexible

Integrating universal design into your home doesn’t always require a major renovation. There are plenty of small projects that can make a big difference in the accessibility of your home.

Whether you’re just replacing something that’s broken or remodeling an entire space, keep these universal design features in mind while you’re planning:

  • Soft-closing drawers and cabinets
  • Waist-level appliances
  • Walk-in bathtubs or standalone showers
  • Grab bars and handrails
  • Choose handles instead of knobs
  • Automated lighting
  • Integrate ramps or lifts
  • Minimize stairs

Universal design is cost-effective

Here’s a fact that may surprise you. Incorporating accessible features does not typically increase the cost of a remodeling project. In fact, you could end up saving money in the long run, since these designs can help you avoid future home updates.

Read more: What Home Maintenance DIYers Need to Know

With smart planning, there are plenty of universal design elements that can be incorporated at little to no extra cost.

Universal design boosts resale value

You may think an accessible home serves a narrow market. But with our nation’s 76 million Baby Boomers now reaching retirement age, the opposite is often true. According to a 2017 report from the National Association of Realtors, one in five home buyers aged 52 to 61 purchased a multi-generational home.

Empty-nesters and multi-generational families see homes with universal design principles as a safe place for people with disabilities, children and the elderly. This makes an accessible home marketable to anyone who wants to live there for the long-term.

Universal Design can still look modern

Just because a home is accessible doesn’t mean it has to look institutional. At its heart, universal design is person-centered, and most design features don’t draw attention to themselves.

For example, thresholds that are flush with the floor are easy for a wheelchair to cross – but they also make it harder for someone to trip. And having appliances at waist level puts everything you need for cooking within arm’s reach. Those are features you can appreciate at any age.

Protect your investment

Universal design can help save you the trouble of moving or investing in expensive renovations as you age. It also gives you room to grow, whether you find yourself caring for your grandchildren or your aging parents.

At Erie Insurance, we know your home’s design is unique to you. It’s more than light fixtures and hallways. It’s built for real life – and you want to be sure it’s protected with the right homeowners insurance. Keeping in touch with your local ERIE agent is the best way to ensure that your protection stays current and continues to meet your needs.

Contact your local Erie Insurance agentto make sure your home, and everything it stands for, is protected.

Learn more about the home design trend that can save you the trouble of moving or investing in expensive renovations as you age. /blog/aging-in-place-universal-design Erie Insurance https://www.erieinsurance.com/-/media/images/erieinsurance/erieinsurancelogo.png

ERIE® insurance products and services are provided by one or more of the following insurers: Erie Insurance Exchange, Erie Insurance Company, Erie Insurance Property & Casualty Company, Flagship City Insurance Company and Erie Family Life Insurance Company (home offices: Erie, Pennsylvania) or Erie Insurance Company of New York (home office: Rochester, New York).  The companies within the Erie Insurance Group are not licensed to operate in all states. Refer to the company licensure and states of operation information.


The insurance products and rates, if applicable, described in this blog are in effect as of June 2019 and may be changed at any time. 


Insurance products are subject to terms, conditions and exclusions not described in this blog. The policy contains the specific details of the coverages, terms, conditions and exclusions. 


The insurance products and services described in this blog are not offered in all states.  ERIE life insurance and annuity products are not available in New York.  ERIE Medicare supplement products are not available in the District of Columbia, New York and Wisconsin.  ERIE long term care products are not available in the District of Columbia and New York. 


Eligibility will be determined at the time of application based upon applicable underwriting guidelines and rules in effect at that time.


Your ERIE agent can offer you practical guidance and answer questions you may have before you buy.