July 18, 2024
New construction is an excellent choice for multigenerational households or for people who have physical disabilities.

Life at home continues to evolve and redefine itself. And in California, that includes the growing popularity of multigenerational living and the need for flexible floor plans for all types of lifestyles.

Builders now provide a variety of options for people of all ages, stages and needs to live comfortably and safely under the same roof. Whether a new-home buyer is purchasing a home to start a family, enjoy their golden years or to accommodate someone with mobility limitations, California’s builders are ready.

The accessibility features that builders offer — in their homes and even throughout their communities — provide even more reasons to consider new construction.

Some of these features are driven by the California Building Code (CBC), which outlines building standards based on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Other accessibility elements extend naturally from contemporary design methodologies builders already practice.

Buyers can partner with a builder’s design team before construction to learn how to make the home as stylish, functional, comfortable and safe as possible over time. Let’s explore a few reasons why new construction is an excellent choice for multigenerational households or for people who have physical disabilities.

Entrances: Builders can easily accommodate step-free entrances to their homes, especially if they are informed before construction or in early planning stages. While not yet required by the CBC for private residences, some Bay Area cities have explored making this a requirement for new construction.

Builders design step-free entrances in a few ways. In one, an oversize two-car garage might feature a wide doorway into the home with a smooth, step-free entry. In another scenario, that entrance or the front door can include a ramp.

Other builders achieve this by including a California Room as a standard feature. Architecturally, a California Room has seamless floors from the home to an enclosed or screened-in porch and out to a patio. When informed early enough, builders can accommodate the need for ramps at other entrances.

Flow: The interior doors, hallways and turning spaces of new construction homes in California meet or exceed the height and width requirements to allow residents in wheelchairs to move freely between all spaces of at least one level of the home.

Hallways: While touring model homes, new-home buyers may not even notice the reduced number of hallways, especially on a home’s main level.

In the past few years, builders have grown increasingly creative with floor plans that incorporate open-concept designs along with additional rooms away from the openness. One way they’ve done this is by replacing some hallways with larger rooms and doorways.

Fewer hallways eliminate some of the need to turn corners, which can be especially helpful for people with mobility needs.

Bathrooms: California builders are keen on flexible design options, including upgrading main-level bonus rooms or bedrooms to en suite bedroom-bathroom designs. In two-story homes without a standard full bathroom on the main level, buyers can request that the builder use flexible space to convert a main-level powder room into a full bathroom.

The design of at least one bathroom in a new construction home can accommodate the needs of people with disabilities. Design features include everything from grab bars near toilets and showers or bathtubs to unobstructed floor space; roll-in showers and fixtures placed at accessible heights.

Single-story options: Most master-planned developments feature various elevations of new-home styles, including single-story options. These plans are attractive both to young families who don’t want to worry about babies accidentally discovering stairs and to the older generation who may not want to navigate staircases.

Accessible kitchen: While the standard kitchen design may not include accessible kitchen countertop heights, the builder can accommodate this need when requested. The CBC guidelines feature standards for accessible counters, sink clearance and maneuvering spaces for wheelchair users.

Lighting and electrical: Unlike a 40-year-old tract home, new construction homes also feature light switches, outlets, electrical control boxes and other fixtures that are easily reachable by people who are in wheelchairs or have other disabilities.

Multifamily building: The ADA and the CBC set standards for multifamily dwellings, such as condominium or townhome complexes, that make them easy to navigate for people with mobility concerns. These include common areas with ramps and accessible shared spaces as well as a certain number of units that may be fully outfitted with accessibility features.

If accessibility is a deciding factor for your next home purchase, ask each builder you meet to share how their homes can meet your needs.