🏑Chapter 9: Additional Areas

Additional areas include indoor and outdoor living spaces that aren't in every home. These areas need to be universally accessible if they exist.

Residential Universal Design Building Code, 2024 version. Β© The UD Project.

Additional areas include (but are not limited to) living & family rooms, outdoor living spaces, storage sheds, pools & spas, hall closets, mudrooms, basements, attics, flex rooms, home offices, exercise rooms, and sensory rooms.

Please refer to Chapter 4: Circulation for the design features for moving between additional areas. The design elements found in Chapter 2: Entrance Routes should be used to design access to and throughout outdoor areas.

Section 9.1: General

9.1.1 No steps.

No steps should be required to access any inside and outside spaces. This applies to transitions between interior spaces and transitions to exterior spaces (e.g., decks, porches, patios).

Everyone should be able to access all home areas, inside and out, regardless of ability. It's common to see a step up or down into a living room or dining room.

Please take into account the impact outside as well. If your deck, porch, or patio has sections with a step to access, individuals won't be able to reach activities at the table, fire pit, pool, hot tub, backyard, etc.

Steps pose safety hazards and exclude people from interacting in areas of your home common for socializing. Zero-step areas of the home aren't just for wheelchair users. Think about toddlers learning to move around, carrying food from one location to another, and those who struggle with balance.


If a home is on a site with significant elevation change between interior and exterior spaces, steps may be used, but there must be an alternate step-free option to provide access to all areas. Any stairs (multiple steps) must comply with Section 4.4.

9.1.2 Turning radii β‰₯ 60-inches.

A 60" (152cm) turning radius should exist in the space when built-in features and furniture are present.

This will allow anyone who relies on extra support to move around easily without bumping into walls or other items. While this accommodates wheelchairs, it also provides breathing room for people carrying items or two or more individuals working in the same area.

9.1.3 Same-level restroom access.

Where possible, a restroom (toilet + sink) should be on the same level and not require navigating any steps or elevator for access.

See Chapter 6: Bathrooms for details.

Including a restroom on each level of a home will provide convenience for everyone while not deterring the use of any area for individuals who struggle with mobility, fatigue, or other health conditions that make traveling longer distances when nature calls.

9.1.4 Evenly lit.

Lighting should be strategically placed to illuminate indoor and outdoor living and work areas while minimizing shadows and glare.

Strategic lighting should minimize shadows and be designed to be as glare-free as possible in all task areas to provide maximum safety. It also encourages ease of doing desired tasks in living areas and work in places dedicated to work, school, and play.

Natural lighting:

Where possible, use windows. Natural light via skylights, sun tunnels/tubes, or clerestory windows will brighten spaces during the day while increasing mental health.

Indirect and low lighting:

Using indirect ambient lighting and low lighting that illuminates the floor without visible bare bulbs or translucent covers (from a seated or standing position) is ideal. Indirect lighting reduces eye strain and is more calming than direct lighting.

The option to adjust the intensity of ambient lighting (e.g., with a dimmer) should be used wherever possible.

9.1.5 Everything within reach.

At least 75% of storage and other places where items are stored or organized should be located between 18-48" (46-122cm) from the floor.

You can never have enough storage for items dedicated to work, play, hobbies, and more. Make sure everyone can easily reach the most commonly used items.

Pull-down shelving exception:

If pull-down shelving is used for any storage over 60β€³ from the floor, the 75% requirement may be reduced to 50%.

Walk-in closet exception:

The 75% requirement may be reduced to 50% if a large walk-in closet exists.

Section 9.2: Work or Learning Spaces

9.2.1 Quiet with room for storage.

As work from home, homeschooling, and other in-home learning increases, it's important to have dedicated work areas for adults or children that are quiet and organized.

If workspaces are built-in, the counter/surface should be table height (30-32" / 76-81cm). However, space for an adjustable-height desk is preferable.

In the age of working remotely and virtual options for school, it's more important than ever to have a place dedicated to work for those living in the home. When considering what "quiet" means, consider audible and visual noise. This can mean planning a space away from the traffic of living rooms and kitchens that minimizes distraction.

Section 9.3: Outdoor Living

9.3.1 Covered area.

Porches, patios, and decks should be partially or fully covered to protect from sun and inclement weather.

A covered outdoor living area protects people from precipitation and provides shade on hot, sunny days. Some individuals struggle to enjoy the outdoors due to their inability to be out in the heat, cold, or sun. This gives anyone a more comfortable place to enjoy outside activities... from dining to socializing.

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