NORMAN, OKLA. – Homes that make life easier for people with mobility limitations are now under construction at Ideal Homes & Neighborhoods communities in Norman, Moore and Stillwater.
These homes were originally the brainchild of David Boeck, associate professor of architecture at the University of Oklahoma Gibbs College of Architecture, and a certified aging in place specialist. Boeck approached Vernon McKown, CEO and Co-Founder of Ideal Homes & Neighborhoods, last year about a project to build affordable, accessible homes. McKown and team jumped at the opportunity.
McKown notes the importance of this project for Ideal Homes & Neighborhoods in order to meet the needs of all homeowners. “First and foremost, we want to ensure families or individuals with different abilities are able to live comfortably in their own home,” he said, “It’s also important to our entire team to be able to do that for an affordable price and in the same beautiful homes in which we already build.”
“I couldn’t get other home builders to buy into this idea of more accessible housing – until I called Vernon and he jumped at the idea of this project,” says Boeck. “Even when you build a home for a first-time homeowner who may not have different abilities, those individuals or families often have family members or friends who could benefit from more accessible entrances, kitchens, and so much more.”
Ideal Homes & Neighborhood’s design and estimating teams worked with Boeck to make simple changes to current Ideal plans. These specific upgrades can be accommodated for less than $15,000 in many cases – including solid-surface flooring. This allows homeowners who use a wheelchair or who have mobility needs, as well as homeowners who are buying their “forever home” and plan to age in place, to live in their Ideal home comfortably.
The Accessibility Package includes wider doorways, no steps in or into the home, and ADA-compliant thresholds at the front door, back door and garage. Also, bathroom and kitchen cabinets accommodate wheelchairs, bathrooms include grab bars, comfort height handicap toilets and a tiled walk-in main shower. Finally, the house includes lever handles throughout, raised electrical outlets and a lower thermostat position.
“About 15 years ago I decided to build a prototypical accessible home where I could age in place and get first-hand experience at what it would take to build something like this” says Boeck. “That’s what really inspired me to start working with Ideal Homes & Neighborhoods to be able to offer affordable accessibility options.”
The project may inspire more home builders in Oklahoma to incorporate the concept of Universal Design – creating homes that are usable by all people without the need for adaptation. Not only are these first accessible homes just the beginning, but they have also initiated changes to more Ideal floorplans to better accommodate accessible design features.
Ideal Homes & Neighborhoods’ accessible homes will accommodate different families’ needs, such as children, family and friends with different abilities. Typically, owners would have to customize their existing home or buy a new home and make the changes after it is built. Having these features built in from the beginning makes for a much more flexible and attainable home.
The project was recently featured in the Norman Transcript (linked here).