Universal Design / Aging In Place

Golden Rule Builders, Inc. is a strong advocate for what the National Association of Home Builders calls “Aging-in-Place.” We prefer using a different term, “Universal Design,” to describe the philosophy of safety, comfort, and sustainability at home. The principal notion is that feeling safe and comfortable in your home has little to do with your age. Admittedly, many of our clients who benefit from Universal Design features are either aging or are concerned about a parent who is aging. But the ideas behind the universal design concept cater to people of all ages — children and adults alike.

Gary Sinise Foundation Home, a Universal Design / Aging In Place, Kitchen

We believe that your home should be designed with considerations for today — and tomorrow, too.

Ease of use from wheelchair height for things like storage, lightswitches, electrical outlets, and even cooktops is one important aspect of Universal Design. Appliances feature controls on the front and faucets are equipped with touch control for easy access.

Gary Sinise Foundation Home, a Universal Design / Aging In Place, Kitchen

Hands-free entry. Pull-down hanging space available and easily accessible. Counter with lower section for wheelchair access. Washer, dryer and folding area is placed to minimized distance laundry must be carried. Front loading appliances with controls on the front.

Gary Sinise Foundation Home, a Universal Design / Aging In Place, Laundry

Over-sized staircase to accommodate the spacial needs for mobility for all residents. Chairlift or stair glider for those with restricted mobility who can safely navigate stairs without assistance. Steps have rounded edges to minimize injuries during a possible fall.

Gary Sinise Foundation Home, a Universal Design / Aging In Place, Stairwell

Wide doors and hallways provide more clearance. For ease of use, select hardware that minimizes grip, twisting or pinching needs. Lever handles or doors that push open allow the resident to use their body weight to help open the door. Provides low or flush door thresholds and transitions at doorways.

GRB Home Foyer

Open counter spaces near easily accessible appliances. Adaptable cabinetry for standing or seated positions. Non-porous, smooth flooring with fewer joints are easier to clean. Extra space for caregivers or spouses where daily tasks are performed or an individual may require help.

Gary Sinise Foundation Home, a Universal Design / Aging In Place, Kitchen

Exterior windows are lower for optimal visibility. Wide sidewalks allow person in wheelchair and another person to move around the home side-by-side. Multiple entry points into the home with appropriate lighting. Flush thresholds allow for someone in wheelchair to move around comfortably.

Gary Sinise Foundation Home, a Universal Design / Aging In Place, Exterior

Gary Sinise Foundation Home Build 2020

See the full gallery of this home built by Golden Rule Builders with the Gary Sinise Foundation:

See Dedication Ceremony Gallery

Interested in learning more about our approach to Universal Design, and our homes built for Aging-in-Place?

Let’s talk!
Our team is standing by, ready to answer your questions!

Origin & Features of the Award-winning Ron Knecht Universal Design Home

After Ron Knecht’s wife was diagnosed with cancer, she asked her husband to promise he would move from their Fairfax home to Nokesville after she was gone, to be closer to their grown daughter, so they could look after each other. When that time came and he began looking for a home to buy, all he could find available were houses with stairs, chopped-up floorplans, and high maintenance issues. After observing his wife’s physical impairments in everyday living, Ron wanted a home that he could easily maneuver in and maintain as he aged. In addition to accessibility features, Ron also wanted an energy efficient home and one that required little maintenance.

After searching for months and finding nothing, he decided to have one built. Ron narrowed his choices of contractors familiar with universal design to Golden Rule Builders. Together we developed a plan for a home that would be highly energy efficient, usable for anyone regardless of age or ability, and practically maintenance free.

Now Ron’s red single-floor home featuring universal design elements from the exterior entry ways to the garage to accessible features in every room, stands as evidence to a promise kept to his late wife.

Golden Rule Builders - Universal Design Exterior Front
Golden Rule Builders - Universal Design Exterior Side
Golden Rule Builders - Universal Design Exterior
  • Six-feet-wide sidewalks allow person in wheelchair and another person to approach home side-by-side
  • Extra-wide garage with nine-foot door accommodates lift-equipped vehicles and space for someone in wheelchair to get in and out comfortably
  • Small shelf at front and back entries frees hands for unlocking and opening door, by holding bags and other items
  • Flush thresholds
Golden Rule Builders, Inc., universal design home builder living aging in place
  • Thirty-four inch high counters and a cooktop with free space underneath accommodate those working from a seated position
  • Kickspaces that are nine inches high and six inches deep accommodate wheelchairs
  • Touch control faucet
  • Pull-out extension counter
Golden Rule Builders - Universal Design Cabinets
Golden Rule Builders - Universal Design Bath
  • Out-turning doors
  • Thirty-four inch high counters with free space underneath accommodate a wheelchair
  • Comfort height toilets
  • Zero threshold showers with trench drains allow use of single plane sloped shower floors that help prevent falls
Golden Rule Builders - Universal Design Closet
  • Bedroom closet bars adjustable to multiple heights provide accessibility both for those in wheelchairs and for children, which can be adjusted as they grow
Golden Rule Builders - Universal Design Floorplan
  • All light switches, outlets, thermostats at 34″ height
  • Lighting that eliminates shadows that cause falls, including natural light through windows and sun tunnels, and path lights to illuminate hallway
  • Daylight tubes brighten interior spaces and save electricity
  • Wide hallway
  • An exercise room with floating floor is easier on joints than basement concrete
Golden Rule Builders Green Builder 2012 Award

GRB Universal Design Home Receives GreenBuilder Best Aging-in-Place Home Award

Golden Rule was awarded this recognition for the Universal Design home we built for Ron Knecht in Nokesville, Fauquier County, Virginia.


Read full story

The Retirement-Ready House

After months of searching, Knecht decided to have one built. Working with Golden Rule Builders, a local green builder that had experience with universal design, Knecht spent the next few months extensively researching accessible design. Together, what he and Golden Rule came up with is the equivalent of a super-house. Ultra efficient, universally designed to a T, and virtually maintenance free, evidence of careful research and planning is everywhere.

Questions about Universal Design, Aging in Place / Living in Place homes, or are you ready to discuss your Universal Design project? Contact Golden Rule Builders today!

Golden Rule Builders, Inc.
Based on 28 reviews
Megan Haas
GRB has been a delight (not a word usually used during home renovations) to work with from start to finish. They are as dedicated to having the job done correctly and beautifully as I am. Sounds cheesy, but they bring you right into the family. Professional, committed and genuine. Already sign on for another project!
Response from the owner: Megan! We so appreciate your trust in us and your review and looking forward to completing another project for you and the family.
Golden Rule came to my rescue. I had a horrible first builder who did nothing right and cut every corner. Thankfully he quit and I found Golden Rule. They basically rebuilt my house and were wonderful to work with. I was very hands on and they rebuilt this house and turned it into a masterpiece. I absolutely love it now and would highly recommend them.
Response from the owner: Liz,Thank you for your Review. We're so appreciative in your trust and that we could help you through this journey, and for it to be an even better result for you. Happy New Year to you!
Duane Hostetler
If you are looking to have a project done, GRB is a place where you will feel loved, respected, and cared for!As a fellow contractor who came here to learn what GRB could share with me, I highly respect and recommend the team at GRB for your next dream project!Sincerely, Duane H
Response from the owner: Duane,Thank you so much for your kind words. That means a lot to us. Best to you and your business.
Tim Porch
We were looking for a good quality contractor to help us with our remodel and Golden Rule Builders was the answer. First of all, Jeff Nolte came out and listened to our vision and his team came up with a plan. Cindy helped with designing and helping with selections and showed us what we can do. Production started on time and finished within the timeline.Our Lead was Matt McCarthy and he really made the process bearable. He listened to us and made changes as necessary. His assistant was John Mullins. He was professional and explained what was going on. Bottom line is that they exceeded our expectations. The quality and workmanship was world class. Also, their partners were professional as well.We are very satisfied with the outcome and look forward to other projects in the future. We would highly recommend Golden Rule Builders for your next project.
Response from the owner: Tim, we so appreciate your trust in us and the GRB Team. Your space is turned out amazing and the functionality of it makes life so much better. Happy to be part of this project for you and your wife. We look forward to serving you in the future.
Stevi Dorsey
Golden Rule did an amazing job on our basement renovation. We are so happy with the final result. I would recommend them to anyone. In fact I did before the job was even complete. Gold Rule Builders made the renovation a great experience.
Response from the owner: Thank you Stevi! So happy to hear this and really appreciate your willingness to share your experience with others.
Vic O
For over 20 years, I have been a client/customer of GRB. They have consistently delivered excellent results.We recently contracted with GRB to renovate our kitchen when a major water leak caused extensive damage. We couldn’t be happier with the final result, and it was delivered in record time. We knew from other home improvement projects that GRB has done for us their focus on quality would result in excellent workmanship, but this time their help with the kitchen design and product selection exceeded our expectations. We were really impressed with GRB’s design center where both Dennis and Cindy did their magic. They both provided excellent suggestions. Their input and advice was instrumental in creating the look, feel and functionality that made the finished product top notch. We were also impressed with Matt McCarthy, the project manager that GRB assigned. Matt kept the project moving and got us into our kitchen in record time. We were relieved to have our kitchen back after months of inconvenience caused by the water damage. Matt kept me in the loop each day with text messages and phone calls. If we had questions, he responded quickly. He was always polite and courteous to both my wife and me. During the build out, Matt and GRB’s carpenters offered suggestions along the way that really improved the final result. We found that just making small changes can make a big difference in the look and feel of the final result.Thank you GRB for another terrific project!
Response from the owner: We are truly honored to be part of the solution you needed! Your kitchen is beautiful and your selections show that. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience and for trusting GRB.
Kathy Howard
Golden Rule built my house 13 years ago and I couldn't have been more pleased. The quality of the work, the professionalism and their integrity was exceptional. For this reason I chose them to do some upgrading and remodeling and looking forward to working with them again.. The planning stage has been very successful.
Response from the owner: Thank you so much Kathy! We do appreciate your kind words and being able to work with you again. Honored that you have chosen GRB!
Joey Robinson
Very good builder
CD Leonard
Always helpful and has gone out of their way to provide information and help ensure we make decisions that lead to what we describe as our end goal
Response from the owner: Thank you so much for your Review. We appreciate the time you took in this and hope to be part of your dream project.
John Intihar
I highly recommend Golden Rule Builders for your new custom home or remodeling project. The team at Golden Rule Builders in knowledgeable, honest and friendly. From the in-house design team to the highly skilled construction team, Golden Rule Builders will exceed your expectations.John Intihar, Construction Management Professional
Response from the owner: Thank you John! We appreciate the feedback and the kind words!
Don Sampson
Golden Rule Builders provided outstanding service from start to finish! It was very helpful to have "one-stop shopping" with in-house design help, architectural work, and construction. GRB was truly custom in that they took a floor plan we gave them and turned it into our home. They listened to our preferences, and tried to accommodate us in every way. We highly recommend GRB!
Response from the owner: Don, thank you so much for your kind words! We truly have loved working with you and Nancy on making your dream home come true. Such wonderful memories for us at GRB!
David Griffith
We had our kitchen remodeled from "builder grade" to Gourmet Kitchen. We contemplated it for 3 years working with GRB off and on until the plan came together perfectly. It included taking out an entire wall and putting in a hidden beam to open up the gathering space. This was 2009. Today, 2019, 10 years later, we are STILL so happy we remodeled with Golden Rule Builders. They are fantastic. If you're gonna do it, go ahead. Don't wait. You'll miss years of enjoyment. We're so glad we did. I must say.We continue to enjoy the Kitchen and we entertain large groups ~40+ people with great joy being had by all. Thanks, GRB, for 10 years of joy made possible by people like you. Still going strong.
Response from the owner: Hi David!Thank you so much for your kind words, we are so happy that you are still happy after all these years! It was a joy to work with you and hope we have the chance to help you again in the future.Kind Regards,Team GRB
Andrew Neider
Great place to work for great company to have a house built by
Response from the owner: Thank you very much, Andrew!
Donna Anders
My husband and I are greatly looking forward to working with this company.
Response from the owner: Thank you, Donna!
BJ Jeffries
GRB built our home almost 2yrs ago and it’s been nothing but great joy dealing with this staff. Every step of the building process was perfect !The Christians - Thank you GRB
Response from the owner: Thank you so much for your kind words! We loved working with you!!!
Ramy Hanna
Best service amazing team
Response from the owner: Thanks so much, Ramy! And thank you for all of your awesome contributions!
Cheryl Kinsey
I love working with Bethanny Dye at Golden Rule Builders. I'm a designer and I've worked with her on several kitchen and bath projects. Her ideas for room function are invaluable and she is a joy to work with!
Response from the owner: Thank you for your kind rating and review, Cheryl!
Mark Jenkins
Golden Rule has a very professional staff. I would highly recommend stopping by and looking at there show room
Response from the owner: Thank you for your kind rating and review, Mark!
Paradigm Solutions
Golden Rule did a great job of refurbishing our main floor powder room. New tile flooring, custom vanity cabinet, vessel sink, Kohler plumbing fixture and Toto toilet along with a new exhaust fan! Great people, ethical, clean, dependable - it's worth paying a little more to gain piece of mind and a job well done!
Response from the owner: Thank you for your kind rating and review, Dennis!



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