Universal Design - Creating a Home for a Lifetime

Build Your Home for Universal Design

 While universal design may not be front and center for everyone, it is for some families. Building with this design in mind is a great option for those that may need a home modified for a handicapped family member, or even for future generations not being physically able to safely enter a bathtub or walk up a few porch steps. With Universal Design, however, that thought process is taken care of for you - with additional items you may not have even considered.

So, what is Universal Design? And who does it benefit? 

Universal Design is a way of strategizing a plan, or modifying a home, to maximize accessibility for any person that may have physical restrictions in the future. This means elderly individuals, as well as someone who may be short-term, physically injured.

Bathrooms are specifically targeted, as they are the primary source of injuries in the home for any age, with over an astonishing 80% of injuries. Listed below are some alterations to make during the design phase that could ensure your home could really be suitable for a lifetime.

Bathroom Built for Universal Design


  • Walk-in bathtub options
  • Sloped and recessed (no ledge or step) oversized showers
  • Additional hardware "grab bars" in showers and commode rooms

  • Additional lighting, especially in transitions between rooms and differing floor heights
  • Sloped or ramped porch entry in lieu of steps
  • Non-slick flooring on interior as well as sidewalks and patios
Utility Room built for universal design


  • Handheld shower head & built-in shower seat
  • Comfort height commodes

Accessible door handles

  • Open concept living
  • 3'0 wide or larger doors, entries, and exterior walkways
  • Lowered countertops, outlets, and switches
  • Zoned HVAC, multiple thermostats
  • Lever hardware instead of round knobs
Here is an example of an open concept plan with comfort and safety features of Universal Design, designed by Kurk Homes. We originally created this custom plan with the idea of building a secondary structure on a property so that aging or physically challenged loved ones could have the security of being close by, but still maintain independent living. 
Home floor plan for independent livingFloor plan layout for independent living

Chris McGinley, Kurk Homes President, was the chair of the 50+ housing council for Greater Houston Builders Association, focusing on universal design and "aging in place." He is also pictured above, with our grandparents and the co-founder of Kurk Homes, Mr. Chester Kurk, honored in our July post.