by Paul Morse
On May 7, I had the honor to testify at the Massachusetts State House on behalf of Senate Bill S. 601 called the "Thanksgiving Bill". The bill calls for the creation of a commission to study the viability of adding "visitability" design criteria to all new one and two family homes. Here are some links to documents if you want to find out more:
Visitability is a hot topic in home design, construction and renovation. As the name suggests, visitability is about the ability of all people -- regardless of age or disability -- to visit and enjoy a home without having to make modifications. Visitability dovetails with aging in place. If a home is visitable, it also will seamlessly support the changing mobility of an owner as he or she ages.
Visitability is an international movement focused on integrating basic accessibility features in all new homes, but why stop at new homes? Visitability benefits all homeowners by enhancing:
The home accommodates changing needs as the owner ages or encounters health issues
All friends and family may easily visit the home
All potential buyers could live in the home without making modifications
At Morse Constructions, we always consider visitability issues, particularly with whole house renovations.
There are some non-negotiable features in visitable homes, including:
- At least one zero-step entrance
- Passage doors that are at least 32" wide
- At least a half bath/powder room on the main floor
While the basic guidelines are strict, they do not impede beautiful, imaginative design at all. For examples of visitable design, scroll through this idea book from Houzz (click on a caption to read the full article on the Houzz website):