View of the revised universal design bathroom to premier in the 2019 Cost vs. Value report Artist's sketch of the revised universal design bathroom that will be used in the 2019 Cost vs. Value report

Incorporating advice from more than 200 of the Living in Place Institute’s (LIPI) certified professionals, REMODELING and LIPI announced today they have joined together to revise the Cost vs. Value Universal Design bathroom project to give a more positive view of what such a renovation should entail for a wide range of occupants and visitors.

The revamped project now includes features such as a personal hygiene (bidet-style) toilet seat, underfloor heating, and several more towel bars that serve as balance assist devices. The updated design also features better lighting, more storage, and decorative elements set in contrasting colors. All this comes in a 5x8-foot space that adds just one foot to the original 5x7 design.

Another view of the universal design bath to be used in the Cost vs. Value project starting in 2019.

“Remodelers nationwide tell us they’re getting requests from customers to redo their bathrooms because they’re getting older or have loved ones with special needs and want something that meets their ever-changing requirements,” said Craig Webb, editor-in-chief of REMODELING and manager of the Cost vs. Value project. “That’s why we added a universal design bathroom project in our 2017 report. But we felt the design could be improved, so we asked the experts at LIPI to team up with us and revamp the project.”

LIPI is a Denver-based organization devoted to increasing knowledge and awareness for professionals and other influencers about increased safety and accessibility in all homes. It has created accessibility and safety assessment tools and certifies remodelers in best practices for all designs—a philosophy that stretches beyond concerns for the aged to encompass ways that enable current and future occupants continue to live in place comfortably and safely regardless of their current or future age or needs. The institute offers courses that culminate in its Certified Living in Place Professional (CLIPP) designation.

“We are pleased that over 200 CLIPP-trained experts were involved in creating an example of how a bathroom can serve as the best solutions for a home where we cannot control who lives and visits within,” LIPI co-founder Louie Delaware said.

Artist's sketch showing the Universal Design bath project to be used in 2019

Living In Place Institute co-founder Erik Listou said LIPI was created in response to the lack of knowledge and attention of accessibility and home safety, “even within our industry, even after universal design and aging in place became industry-only buzz words.”

“We realized that approaching the problem of safety by ages or abilities can never work within an existing industry that is divided only by scope of work, new build or renovations—bathrooms, kitchens, additions, repairs, etc.,” Listou said. “This new positive approach, already embraced by a variety of industries, is simply helping professionals prosper through education and accepting their responsibility to team with other experts, design, construction, medical, finance, etc., to make the best recommendations for accessibility, comfort and safety in every home.”

Cost vs. Value reports annually on the cost of having a professional do several dozen different common, big-ticket remodeling projects. RemodelMAX provides the cost estimates used in the Cost vs Value survey. Bill O'Donnell of RemodelMAX recently graduated from the CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialist) course offered by the National Association of Home Builders.

Those costs then are compared to the amount that a local Realtor believes the project would add to the value of a home if the house were sold within a year of the project’s completion. Comparing the value by the cost yields a “bang for the buck” ratio.

In 2018, Cost vs. Value revealed differences in costs for the same 21 projects in 150 markets nationwide, as well as variations in the value across 100 of those markets. That report's universal design bathroom project finished seventh on the list of projects with the best cost-recoupment ratio, at 70.1%.

The universal design bathroom project is being updated at a time in which many remodelers still are in need of expert information on homeowners’ changing needs. To that end, LIPI has created what it describes as the first and only standardized assessment app and a process for allowing experts to assess appropriate products and designs.

“Using the core principles of universal design leads to improved product development and, in the not too distant future, creation of official standards for home accessibility and safety for all homes,” Delaware said.