How to Get Started in Designing a Functional, Beautiful Accessible Home

Universal/accessible design of the home from an occupational therapy and a construction perspective. This blog is part of a quest for cool, convenient, functional design that makes life safer, easier, and as maintenance-free as possible. It's about the lifestyle.
In order to design an accessible home that is beautiful and fits your lifestyle then you need to begin with the end in mind.

Start with a vision:  Before you draw a single line, consult an architect, or buy a software application that will do it all, consider your dreams. At the very beginning of this process, it's about how you define your desires.

Develop your vision:
  • Visit neighborhoods that you like, look for what inspires you and take pictures.
  • Attend open houses, take pictures.
  • Look at sites like Pinterest, make your own Pinterest page. 

Get organized. Dreaming is good, and it's vital to have a vision for what you want to achieve, but achieving it will be much more difficult if you are constantly looking for that scrap of paper you thought you left over there.
  • Get a sturdy,  graph-ruled notebook (often called a "computation book"), and keep it with you until your home is finished. Its numbered, graph-ruled pages will help you keep your thoughts organized and your sketches neat. You can use it to tape or paste in photos, and anything else associated with the project.
  • Dedicate a couple of pages right up front to things that your house must have—whether it be 3 bathrooms or bamboo flooring, these are the things you require in your home.
  • Dedicate another page or two to list of every feature and desire you've culled from your various resources, and call this your "Wish List." This could be anything from a particular shape of molding to an Italian tile bathroom.
Bring it Into Focus:  Now that you are getting specific about what you love and what you desire, it's time to focus.
  • Will you prefer urban or rural living?
  • Do your needs put you in expansive home with room for the kids to play and the dogs to run, or a cozy bungalow for two?
  • Do you favor clean, modern lines or detailed, hand-built craftsmanship?
  • Perhaps the most important of all considerations, what is your budget?
  • These questions will help guide you as you begin to focus your vision into actionable steps.
  • The more information that you can provide to your architect or builder about the details of your vision, the more likely you will not only get the design of your dreams, you'll stay on budget as well.
Pick a location:

Before you can really dig into designing your dream home, you'll need to know what you're building on.
  • The landscape matters. building on a hill has a different set of requirements and design challenges than building on flat ground.
  • A heavily-wooded area may makes a big difference when it comes to windows and lighting, not to mention solar panels or other energy considerations.
  • Lots nearer freeways or other noise-producing areas will need more attention to acoustics than isolated rural locations.
  • Access to utilities and services vary by location. Make sure your chosen location includes those things we generally take for granted.
  • Zoning can make the difference between a dream home realized, or a house full of compromises.
  • Enlist the help of a real estate professional who can help you assess your property choices from an objective point of view.

Develop a design:
When visualizing your new home write down a specific list of your requirements for rooms based on your lifestyle, level of function and goals.
  • How many bedrooms based on current and future needs?
  • How many bathrooms? 
  • What other rooms and features are 'must haves'?
Draw out a floor plan or look at floor plans online to get an idea of floor plans you like that you can share with the architect or home designer.

 Consult the professionals:  

Now you are ready to bring in an architect or a home designer that will help you reach your goals and develop a good design. 

What's the difference between a home designer and an architect?   

Most architects happily identify themselves as designers; on the other hand, a self-described designer usually is not an architect. Architects are licensed and have more academic training and professional experience which may be a better choice because you will probably get a better design and your home may be less expensive to build since architects are trained on how to design a house based on structural considerations as well as design.  I had a client bring me a plan their home designer drew and I gave it to one of our architects who redrew the design and was able to cut $100,000.00 off the build with the new design.  There is much to be said about academic training.    The difference between an architect and a designer is similar to the difference between a physician and a nurse practitioner.

1 comment:

Matthew Ward said...

I am looking into starting a home assessment/modification side business in Southeast Missouri and wondered if anyone else is doing this around here? I also am wondering what others are charging for the assessment? I understand that most, if not all, payment is private pay. Also what validated measures and tools are others using? I am just at the brain storming step of this process so any and all guidance is appreciated.