Universal DesignThe laundry is the workhorse of the family home, especially if you have a young family. It is also frequently the least accessible room in the house, designed as an afterthought rather than a priority.

Some of the common problems in laundries include

- Laundries are often tucked into narrow rooms with inadequate floor space especially for people who use walkers or wheelchairs.

- There can be insufficient task lighting - washers and dryers are often tucked away in poorly lit utility closets or dark spaces, making it hard to read dials.

- Top loading washing machines with rear-mounted controls can make them hard to reach, especially if you are short or using a wheelchair or walker.

- Cupboards are very often too high for many people.

- Knob door handles on cabinets are difficult to use if you have arthritis.

- Work counters that lack knee space make it difficult for someone in a wheelchair. There is also no space to sit if you have lots of sorting or folding to do.

Imagine if you could renovate your laundry to create a user-friendly space with a practical layout, filled with plenty of space to fold and sort clothes, functional appliances at the right height, room to move about, and easily accessible storage.
A great starting place to plan your renovation is to look at the principles behind Universal Design. The term ‘Universal Design’ refers to making decisions about features and design that considers a broad range of people with different abilities and at different ages and stages of life. Universal design features can be incorporated for little or no extra cost in a renovation and can increase a home’s marketability by catering to a wider group of people.
Here are some tips for incorporating Universal Design features in a laundry that can improve a home for residents now and as they get older.

  1. When selecting appliances, look for controls that are front-mounted. These are easier for people who are short, those with limited reach, people who may be using a cane or have balance issues as well as those who might be seated in a wheelchair.
  2. Front-loading appliances are easier for children, shorter people and the elderly to access. They can also be raised or mounted if bending is an issue or for taller people.
  3. Think about how and where you will store the heavy bottles of detergent. They should be easily reached where bending and lifting can be minimised.
  4. Replace the tap handles on utility sinks with lever handles that don’t require gripping or turning to operate.
  5. When it comes to countertops, provide flexibility by installing adjustable height countertops. This can accommodate different members of the family as well as changing needs - whether its extra storage space that’s needed or for knees if someone is sitting.
  6. Loop handles on cabinets are easier to open for both young and old.
  7. Laundries often have ventilation problems, so look at options for windows with natural light or even skylights.
  8. Very few people love ironing, so consider adding easy to use fold-down ironing boards that cater to different heights and are easy to set up and pack away.
  9. Rolling hampers that can be moved from room to room make it easier for everyone instead of lugging heavy laundry baskets around.
  10. Proper lighting in the laundry is really important, especially as we get older and our vision deteriorates. Recessed under-cabinet LED lights can provide bright task lighting especially in laundries where there is no natural lighting.

The laundry room is a space where so many functions take place – washing, drying, folding, ironing, storage and even pet care. The room should be accessible to all.

So how do you pay for these renovations?

Refinancing to renovate is the most popular reason for refinancing and can be a great way to add value to your property. If you’re considering this as an option, here are some things to consider:

Get a valuation done on your home. This will help you work out how much you can borrow. The Loan Value Ratio (LVR) is the value of what you are borrowing as a percentage of your property value that is being used as security for the loan. The lower the LVR, the lower the risk is to the lender.

Look at the sale prices of houses in your area and work out the median property value. It’s a good idea to spend no more than 10% of this value on a renovation, otherwise, you risk over-capitalising.

Use a mortgage calculator or book a free consult with a mortgage broker, to help you figure out the cost of repayments as well as help you to dot all the ‘i’s’ and cross all the ‘t’s’.

Contact the friendly team at ActonLendingSolutions to find out more about refinancing to renovate.