At the Southern Ideal Home show — an annual venue where Peggy and David Mackowski market their remodeling company and highlight universal design ideas — a 60-year-old homeowner approached them about remodeling her house.

The vanity has a lower seating area in the center. The toilet is a few inches higher than standard units, which is more comfortable for all users.
Photo: Ray Strawbridge Photography The vanity has a lower seating area in the center. The toilet is a few inches higher than standard units, which is more comfortable for all users.

Universal design features of this bathroom include:  3-foot-wide doorway with pocket door, 5-foot-diameter turning space for wheelchairs, curbless shower stall for wheelchair access, shower door that swings both in and out for easy access, fixed showerhead and a handheld fitting, thermostatic valve controls to prevent scalding, standard tub with controls at the front within easy reach, tub base that extends into the shower to create a bench, reinforced shower wall for future grab-bar installation
Photo: Ray Strawbridge Photography Universal design features of this bathroom include: 3-foot-wide doorway with pocket door, 5-foot-diameter turning space for wheelchairs, curbless shower stall for wheelchair access, shower door that swings both in and out for easy access, fixed showerhead and a handheld fitting, thermostatic valve controls to prevent scalding, standard tub with controls at the front within easy reach, tub base that extends into the shower to create a bench, reinforced shower wall for future grab-bar installation

The homeowner, who often assists her elderly mother with everyday tasks, was familiar with the limitations of her mother's house, as well as her own home when it comes to walkers and wheelchairs. “She knew what was not working for her mother, and she did not want to have that same situation [as she aged],” says David Mackowski of Quality Design & Construction.

The Raleigh, N.C., remodeler and his team began working with the homeowner and, based on her list of needs, chose to tear down her duplex and construct a new house on the existing foundation. In choosing accessible features, just as they do with all universal design projects, David and his wife Peggy used their CAPS training as a guide, but customized the house to the client's specific needs.

The new house does not have hallways on the main level, and each door is 3 feet wide. An elevator in the front foyer provides access to the lower level. It opens to a 5-foot-wide hallway that leads to the backyard carport. At the front of the house, the crew re-graded the landscaping and replaced steps with a walkway to the front door.

Web Extra: Design Elements of the Kitchen

A 4 Ω-foot-wide aisle between the kitchen island and surrounding cabinets allows for multiple cooks and easy traffic flow. The cabinets have pull-out storage and the long handles on the doors and drawers are easy to grab. The team chose a range with controls on the front. The Mackowskis considered a dishwasher drawer, but say the units can't handle larger pots and pans used by the cooking-enthusiast owner. The kitchen is also open to the first floor living areas.
A 4 Ω-foot-wide aisle between the kitchen island and surrounding cabinets allows for multiple cooks and easy traffic flow. The cabinets have pull-out storage and the long handles on the doors and drawers are easy to grab. The team chose a range with controls on the front. The Mackowskis considered a dishwasher drawer, but say the units can't handle larger pots and pans used by the cooking-enthusiast owner. The kitchen is also open to the first floor living areas.


Accessible Contest

Quality Design & Construction won a 2007 Livable Community Award for this project.

Co-sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders and AARP, the contest aims to promote AARP's philosophy of livable communities and the use of its accessible housing principles in new and remodeled houses.

The contest is open to remodelers, architects, and designers who work on single-family homes, manufactured homes, and/or multifamily dwellings.

The entry deadline is June 6, 2008 for projects completed between Jan 1, 2006 and May 15, 2008. For more information, visit www.nahb.org.