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.


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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 is the gold standard of custom home builders. From design through the project’s completion, GRB took our dream and made it a reality.
Great job.
Stan Parkes
21:25 14 Jun 19
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 more
David Griffith
18:12 22 Mar 19
what ever you need built. they will definitely do it in style!
Siree Durham
15:12 29 Jan 19
Great place to work for great company to have a house built by
Andrew Neider
23:58 17 Oct 18
My husband and I are greatly looking forward to working with this company.
Donna Anders
02:18 04 Jun 18
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
BJ Christian
18:51 30 Apr 18
Best service amazing team
Ramy Hanna
17:57 20 Dec 17
Golden Rule Builders has an extensive hiring process. I'm honored to be here as a designer. Everyone loves to work and makes the journey enjoyable for everyone involved.
Jj Kiernan Artist
20:29 12 Apr 17
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!
Cheryl Kinsey
13:39 07 Jan 16
Golden Rule has a very professional staff. I would highly recommend stopping by and looking at there show room
Mark Jenkins
13:30 07 Jan 16
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!read more
Dennis Taylor
17:54 17 Nov 15
We are just starting our building experience, and I have to say so far GRB have been amazing with it all.
The entire staff have been nothing but helpful and patient. They are there to help with all the questions we... have.
Joel and the office staff made our first meeting such a great one. Me and my husband walked out feeling like family.
Thank you so much and we can't wait to move forward
Beth & Bj Christian
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Beth Christian
13:41 15 Aug 15
Friendly, Knowledgeable staff and great products including Wellborn Cabinets!
Jonathan Rowland
18:35 04 Jun 13



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