What really defines the accessible homes of Austin? Barrier free architectural design for all who enter the structure while approaching the main living areas of the home in question is a fair definition. Universal design and aging in place trends have taken hold in the residential remodeling industry. The current housing inventory doesn't offer the features needed for safety and accessibility in the numbers needed to accommodate the ever growing demand. It is ultimately up to the individual homeowners and their families to plan for future housing needs. Once it is discovered that modifications to an existing home are not possible to accomplish total accessibility then it is time to consider a newer or custom built accessible home. What are the main design issues regarding aging in place home modifications in Austin?
- Low maintenance with little need for landscaping or exterior upkeep which could translate into newer rather than older homes that are the accessible homes of Austin.
- An accessible level entry either achieved with ramps or the rare flat lot in Austin. Consumers are looking for the free maneuverability that more open floorplans offer having greater clear unobstructed floor space. Wider doorways and unobstructed accessible routes are truly a concern. These structures will provide flat floors without transitions requiring steps or stairs to move around.
- An accessible master suite and kitchen located on the same floor is preferable. If two story homes are mandated by the community then the guests will inhabit the second floor. If the master suite needs to be located on the second floor then closets can be stacked to house a future elevator installation.
- Evolving kitchens have sprung up due to the more open floorplans. Fewer wall cabinets, lowered cabinet tops, pullout shelves or specialized drawers, and a reduced number of mobility obstructing doors represent the evolution of todays cabinetry. Kneespaces can be incorporated into a kitchen design for roll under access to the sink, prep area, and cooktop. Higher toe kicks can facilitate greater wheelchair access.
- Appliances are being installed at more comfortable heights due to decreased reach distances and bending motion. Raised dishwashers, refrigerator drawers, dishwashing drawers, and non-stacked double ovens are just a few changes within the appliance world. Microwaves can be installed below the cabinet top and cooktops with controls located on the front represent another appliance metamorphosis helping with reach problems.
- The lack of cabinet doors creating a new accessible open look for cabinetry is taking hold on the market. This is becoming more popular in both the bath and kitchen of accessible homes.
- Concerning bathroom accessibility remodels, bathroom vanities with universal height cabinet tops and open knee spaces are taking over the marketplace. These new residential vanities do not need to look institutional. They can be designed like any other piece of fine furniture. Comfort height toilets covered with any one of a multitude of available seats to fit every need prevent deep knee bends required for seating. Curbless roll in showers are advised for everyone on a universal level. The shower should contain at least a shower wand on a sliding bar to be available for varying heights of use along with a regular height shower head with diverter control if desired. Folding seats are useful if caretakers are involved and secure grab bars around the shower perimeter will increase the safety factor and prevent falls. All of the bathroom floor surface must be nonskid to prevent slipping on a guaranteed wet floor.
The above factors have brought about the need for universal design ideas. This is the design of products, services, and environments that are usable by as many people as possible regardless of age, ability, or situation without the need for adaptation or specialized alterations. It provides for the greatest safety and access for any home guests or occupants and is undetectable when done well.
Construction and design professionals are taking advantage of the CAPS training across the nation. This designation is taught through the National Association of Home Builders in collaboration with AARP. CAPS connects responsible professionals with home owners who need these services on an ever increasing basis. CAPS is a nationwide initiative and all active CAPS professionals can be found at nahb.org/CAPSdirectory. David L. Traut, CAPS the owner of T-Square Company in Austin, Texas is one of the select group of professionals nationwide to earn the Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) designation, identifying him as a home remodeler and builder with the skills and knowledge necessary to remodel or modify a home to meet the unique needs of the older population, disabled owners, or their visitors.
A Custom Roll In Shower Design