In this series, the professionals at the B.O.L.D. Company will take you through the process of building a custom home in the Greater Cincinnati – Northern Kentucky area. From plan and lot selection, to mortgage approval, to the actual construction, we’ll take you behind-the-scenes each week for an inside look at a different part of the process.
This week, we take a look at some important design considerations that should be a part of your floor plan research and development.
Savvy home designers are increasingly discovering the benefits of implementing features from the following categories: Universal Design and Green Building. These contemporary industry buzzwords sound great; but what do they actually mean to you and your new home?
- Universal Design The National Association of Home Builders defines this category of home design as the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.What this means: taking advantage of common sense features that make your home useable for, and marketable to, people of all shapes, sizes, and conditions. Furthermore, it is a way of thinking about your house in relation to your future in it, including whatever life changes could affect you and your ability to remain in your home.
- Living on one floor: Universal design does not preclude a second story or a finished basement. Simply put, the design enables the ability to perform all of the main functions of the home eating, sleeping, bathing on the same floor. In this way, if your elderly parents come to stay, or a disabled friend comes to visit, or your own aging joints begin to trouble you, your home remains as hospitable and accessible as ever, to everyone.
- Step-free accessibility: Universal design provides for access to the home and all of its main rooms without the barrier of steps. Furthermore, the use of doorway thresholds that are flush with the floor allow wheelchairs and other aids to enter more easily, and prevents others (especially those with an armful of groceries!) from tripping.
- Wide passages and open design: Wide doorways (32-36 inches) and hallways (36-42 inches) allow wheelchairs and other aids sufficient space to more easily enter and maneuver around the home. Wide passages also make moving furniture easier! Extra floor space and an open floor plan allow room for more people and their needs, while lending flexibility to furniture placement and multi-purpose room use.
- Safety features: Non-slip bathroom surfaces, handrails, and grab bars benefit everyone, but especially the elderly and the disabled. New design ideas are integrating both safety and style.
- Green Building Everything is green these days: new homes are no exception. The fact of the matter is, several simple considerations CAN make a DRAMATIC difference in the efficiency and sustainability of your home. A little extra thought about placement of the home, products installed, and maintenance practices can save you money and peace of mind, while saving the earth’s resources.
- Passive solar heating: The position of the home, as well as the length, size, and location of overhangs and windows, can significantly affect the energy use of your home and so, the cost, both monetarily and environmentally. In the winter, sunshine provides natural (and free!) heating energy; however, these come with chilly blasts of wind. In the summer, those rays of sun work against your energy efficiency, while the breezes can aid your cooling system.
- Appliances: High-efficiency appliances, geothermal heating systems, and programmable thermostats all help to conserve energy resources and lower your energy bills. Look for the Energy Star label when selecting appliances.
- Insulated garage doors and exterior entry doors, insulated can lights, adjustable door thresholds, and high-efficiency windows all contribute to maintaining comfortable temperatures without high energy use and cost.
- Low-flush toilets and water-saving faucets conserve household water and lower utility bills.
- Proper insulation and caulking are also necessary to capture the full benefit of your other energy-saving products.
At the B.O.L.D. Company, we pride ourselves on our commitment to both quality and sustainability. As the first 100% Energy Star Builder in the Northern Kentucky area, we continue to maintain the standards that ensure that each and every one of our homes passes evaluation by a third-party rater. Our homes are 20-30% more efficient than standard homes, saving our customers money and conserving resources for future generations. We also keep up with continuing education and the latest practices recommended by the National Association of Home Builders Green Building program.
We are also proud of our Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist who can help you incorporate the theories of Universal Design into your next home plan.