The type (in terms of terrain and elevation change) and size of the homesite on which the home is situated is also a major determining factor - affecting approach walks, steps, porches, driveways, foundation, and other factors just to someone to the front door.
Even if a builder, homeowner, or renter did nothing more than just already have or just decide to add such basic features as lever door handles and rocker light switches, although we would prefer them to have many more features, we would still say that their homes incorporate some universal design components - because they do.
This is where we get into the argument of just how many features being used in a home constitutes being described as universal design - two, five, ten, twenty, fifty, one hundred? There are dozens that could be used, but how many really need be included?
It doesn't have to be, nor should it be, an "all or nothing" proposition where a home is only considered to be universal design by us, other professionals, and the marketplace if it meets a certain threshold number of features or includes certain "mandatory" or required elements - according to us or commonly accepted standards.
In fact, as design professionals, we might not agree anyway on what features should be used in a particular home, which ones we personally would recommend, which we would lobby against using, and how we would prioritize the features we would want to see based on someone's budget.
There is a long list of possible universal design features and treatments that can be used or included in a home, and few homes are going to have everything included that we would like to see. Therefore, we should strive to have as many features used as someone's budget and personal tastes will initially allow - even if it's just a handful for now. They can always add more later.
Steve Hoffacker, CAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.