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Angie's List: Universal Design Contractors Can Do Amazing Things

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - A woman's physical limitations were no match for a contractor who specializes in universal design. Her story offers inspiration for others facing similar challenges.

Amy Sekhar has been meeting challenges all her life.

"I grew up just having stools everywhere and learning to manage," Sekhar said. "It got to the point where I really wasn't enjoying cooking any more, and I love to cook. So, we kind of knew that this was the house we wanted to stay in, so we might as well make it ours."

That's when a friend told her about another friend who works in universal design.

"I knew it was possible to have lowered countertops, but it was always one of those things you sort of think, well, if I lower them then the house isn't going to be sellable," she said. "When we started meeting with people – the designer and the engineer for the kitchen – we realized there were so many possibilities to actually make it livable for both average-height people and me."

"Amy's story is a great story that really shows how contractors can think outside the box when you just fill them in on what you're looking for. She needed a kitchen that could adapt to both her height as well as her husband, and the contractor came up with some great solutions to make it their dream kitchen," Angie's List Founder Angie Hicks said.

Amy's passion for cooking is back, and she and her husband plan to stay in their home for rest of their lives.

"It's just really nice to know that there's a space that's mine, that's comfortable…that was worked around me instead of me working around it," Sekhar said.

Her custom kitchen cost $100,000, or about twice the price of an average kitchen remodel.

Smaller scale projects are more common, and Hicks says a lot of great contractors specialize in universal design or are certified in customizing homes to meet special physical needs.

Look for contractors who display credentials for universal design or CAPS, a Certified Aging in Place Specialist.

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