Build a Multi-Generational Home & Save Money
Since his election to represent St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington parishes in 2007, Representative Scott Simon has been a tireless advocate for multi-generational design, the concept that structures should be designed to be accessible to both people with and without disabilities.
Advocacy Center staff caught up with Rep. Simon to discuss one of his successes from the 2011 legislative session, House Bill 319, now Act 392. This law encourages individuals to build barrier-free homes by allowing the owner to receive a credit of up to $1000 against his/her individual income tax for the inclusion of accessible and barrier-free design elements. To qualify, the home must meet all of the following requirements
- It has one zero-step entrance at the front, back, or side of the residence.
- All main floor doors have a clear passage space of at least thirty-two inches between doorjambs and strikes with the door at a ninety degree angle.
- All hallways and passages on the main floor have at least thirty-six inches of clear width to the accessible bathroom and eating area.
- The main floor has, at a minimum, a half bath with a minimum five-foot diameter of free and clear floor space.
What was your inspiration for HB 319?
I want to inspire people to change the norms in terms of building practices. When people begin to build a home, simple things like zero tolerance at openings, wider doorways, and accessibility are usually a small adjustment. Later, changes are much more difficult. Right now, it’s simply supply and demand economics. People who build houses put narrower doors because they are $3.00 cheaper. I wanted to offset the difference in cost with a tax incentive. Hopefully, with supply and demand, the larger doors will eventually become cheaper.
I’m hoping this will change the norms, that it will change people’s perception without a mandate.
How can people find out more about the requirements and credits?
The best thing to do is talk to your architect or designer during the planning process to make sure the new home will meet all the requirements. I think that, once the house is complete, the owner will fill out the proper tax forms to receive the credit. It’s important that individuals consult with their tax advisor throughout the process.
Why is universal design important for everyone, not only people with disabilities?
I really like the term multi-generational design as opposed to universal design. This reinforces the idea that design is for all aspects of life. Multi-generational design encompasses all the features that make sense for everyone, not just people who are aging. It’s important to put features in place that people will need in the future, not just now.
The 2011 legislative session just ended. What’s on the horizon for 2012?
Right now, I’m focusing on getting the word out about this initiative and I’m looking for opportunities to share information with groups and organizations across the state.
In 2012, I hope to continue to build on this initiative and continue to bring the needs of people with disabilities and all people to the table. This law is just the first step. It’s a good start, but I know it takes time to change people’s mindset.
To read Act 392, visit http://www.legis.state.la.us/billdata/byinst.asp?sessionid=11RS&billid=HB319.
To learn more about Representative Simon, visit http://www.repscottsimon.com/