DUBLIN, OHIO-based Epcon Communities, a national developer of condo properties, markets all of the 25,000-plus units it has built as following the principles of universal design. In fact, Epcon prides itself on offering maintenance-free, step-free living throughout its portfolio, which has more than 100 communities in 30 states. That means there are no steps in any of the common areas as well as into and inside the individual units.

In addition, the company handles all exterior building maintenance so that individuals with diminished mobility can enjoy an easier lifestyle.

Case in Point: The 96-unit The Polo Club at Weddington, which is surrounded by a 265-acre public park in Matthews, N.C., a Charlotte suburb. The community, which opened in December 2007, offers single-story, four-condo clusters with outward-facing layouts to give the feel of a freestanding home. Units feature a central grand room, which eliminates hall space as well as transition areas.

The result is a series of largely contiguous rooms with plenty of open space. The accessible homes, which start at $197,900, appeal to a diverse set of buyers, from young, professional couples to baby boomers.

Not shown in the photos below are additional accessible features:

  • Rocker panel light switches in the units are easy to use, especially for individuals with joint or grip problems.
  • Doors have user-friendly, easy-to-turn lever handles instead of knobs.
  • Wide doorways have seamless thresholds that allow individuals in wheelchairs to pass effortlessly between the continuous spaces of the units.