Check out my building blog to learn more about construction for your home or office in Austin! David L. Traut, President, CAPS Certified (512)444-0097

Austin Outdoor Kitchens

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Fri, Feb 23, 2018 @ 15:02 PM

     While planning an Austin outdoor kitchen space, you'll need to think about how many people you intend to accommodate given size of the area you plan to include. What are your entertaining needs you plan on furnishing in your new outside space? Identify your budget. The next step is to determine the best location for your kitchen, the size requirements, design layout designating certain areas for certain functions, counter top placement and arrangement, and the appliances and amenities you require. Don't isolate the cook away from the rest of the party. Finally, you must choose the best materials and equipment for accomplishing all your goals that will endure the outside elements because more than likely they will be built into a fixed size placement.

Austin Outdoor Kitchens

     An outdoor kitchen is an excellent way to equip your backyard for entertaining and feeding hungry friends and family. Our Austin climate gives us the flexibility of expanding our living areas into the outdoors. Outdoor kitchens range from small prefab areas with little more than a built in BBQ grill to large, fully equipped custom kitchens complete with one or more grills, extended counter tops, sinks, bars, pizza ovens, and storage cabinets. A fully equipped outdoor kitchen can be a big investment, but one that is sure to add lasting value to your Austin home. Plan for utilities. When planning for an Austin outdoor kitchen design layout, keep in mind the best practical placement or installation of the necessary gas, water and electrical supply. Add music and other entertainment remembering that TV screens are burned out by sunlight making them hard to see. Extend the outdoor entertaining season with heaters, shade and rain shelter. Incorporate shade trees, pergolas and awnings in cooking and dining areas, but don't put a combustible ceiling or awning above an outdoor grill.

     Your Austin outdoor kitchen concept should include designated free flowing zones for food prep, cooking, dining, and socializing. Apply good kitchen design principles for functional zones of the kitchen. Cold areas for refrigeration, hot areas for cooking, wet areas for sinks, and dry areas for food prep. The shape of your outdoor kitchen layout will depend on the location of your new outdoor kitchen to the proximity of your home. Traffic pattern and flow will determine most first steps when designing an outdoor kitchen while galley, C, and U shapes come to mind. Detached areas as in around pools or yard settings give you greater flexibility with your design as it has the capability to expand into your surroundings. More extensive outdoor kitchen designs will usually include side burners, searing areas, flat tops, and warming drawers to name a few amenities but most of these items will require precious additional space or totally designated areas. Provide adequate task lighting as well as ambient lighting to accommodate evening after dark cooking and entertaining.

     Compliment your home's architecture and landscape with your outdoor kitchen design. Mix in some of the stone or brick that is on your home. If a cover is included you can make it look like the rest of your home or totally stand out like a gazebo. The rear wall of your kitchen will surely need to match your home at least on the outside elevation. The inside wall can be covered in anything you desire from tile, stone, metal or any other noncombustible components that are available. The counter top should withstand your climate conditions. Fortunately in Austin we can use tile in our designs because of decreased frosts but solid surfaces are better at being more bacteriastatic. Quartz sheet goods, solid surface materials, and UV resistant cultured granite are excellent choices for the top. Any use of natural stone like granite, onyx, or limestone will require sealing of the top at a higher rate than suggested because it is located outside.

     Plan the entire outdoor entertaining space as part of a single functional plan. Know the choices for equipment and materials by doing your homework and be sure your choices are within your budget. Contact T-Square Company at 512-444-0097 for further information.

 

Tags: outdoor kitchen Austin, Austin outdoor kitchen, Austin outdoor kitchens, Outdoor kitchens in Austin, Austin outdoor kitchen designs, Austin decks and patios

Austin Decks And Patios

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Fri, Feb 23, 2018 @ 13:02 PM

     The best vacation spot can sometimes be in your very own backyard. Since interior space is always at a premium, a homeowner can make the most of their backyard effectively doubling their living space. A great deck design can capture a view, create a comfortable outdoor room, and add a feeling of spaciousness to your home by blurring the boundaries between inside and out. You are simply extending your conditioned living space into the outdoors. A partly sheltered deck serves as an indoor-outdoor space possibly connecting a family room with a patio. Classically simple, a custom deck design can create a great transitional element for nearly any style of house. A deck at the top of a sloping backyard can transform a space into an inviting destination for taking in a view.

Austin deck and patio

     Today's decks are no longer basic rectangles attached to the back of the house. Rather, they integrate seamlessly with the house, landscape, and yard. Many factors will influence the design of your deck, such as the architectural style of your house, contours of your property, restrictions imposed by setbacks and codes, and location of major landscaping features. Whatever your needs, balance them against the budgetary bottom line. Remember to keep your form and function planning in touch with your financial situation. Overruns might increase project costs by as much as 30 percent, depending on unforeseen circumstances. Be open to that reality, and control costs by staying true to the original scope of the project.

     When a roadblock presents itself, turn it into an opportunity to compromise and stay within your budget. For example; if built-in seating crosses the budget line, opt for weatherproof wicker seating that can be moved, rearranged, and updated easily.

     What about including shading or weather protection for your deck? Open pergolas and three sided cabanas seem to be the answer without utilizing an addition to your home. By definition, a pergola has some sort of a roof, but the openness of it varies based on needs and wants. A narrowly constructed open series of pergola "ceiling" pieces gives more shade, as do inserts, either across the whole overhead area or in a pattern. Every pergola should relate in some way to the other structures in the yard. That might mean use of a color, material, or particular design detail -- for example, a sloping roof or a brick base -- that matches something elsewhere, either in landscaping, hardscaping, or on other structures. Style is another element that should be repeated to maintain cohesiveness. A very traditional home calls for a similarly built pergola, while a more casual cottage home might require a less formal pergola. If the pergola is roofed then the addition of a cupola will help with air flow and ventilation.

     The use of details should extend to the pergola's columns. Pergolas generally rest on two or four vertical members for support and structure. Sometimes those columns are simple beams; other columns might have more decorative elements, such as brick, trim, or paint. 

     Builtin outdoor bench seating can provide plenty of seating for outdoor entertaining. Built around a railing post they contribute to the structure's clean, angular sensibility, and the linear slats quickly disperse rain. The benches can run long along the deck sides or be corner units. Simply add the colored cushions if desired and you're all set.

     Before settling on a design, take time to brainstorm ideas for how you want to use your new deck. Consider which features will be most important for your needs, as well as other items on your wish list. Does your active family constantly occupy the backyard? Or are you just looking for a peaceful spot to relax with a morning coffee? Will you throw large, festive parties, or small family gatherings? A dining area makes sense if you often eat and entertain outside, and perhaps an outdoor kitchen, fireplace, or portable gas heaters will be essential for extending time outdoors into the cooler months. As you plan, keep in mind which conveniences will be appropriate. Electrical outlets, for example, make it easy to add or move outdoor lighting, hook up a sound system, or power a laptop or tablet. Once you have a list of desired features, rank them. Prioritizing your dream deck objectives can help during the budget process.

Austin Decks And Patios

Tags: outdoor kitchen Austin, Austin outdoor kitchen, Austin outdoor kitchens, Outdoor kitchens in Austin, Austin outdoor kitchen designs, Austin decks and patios, Austin deck builders, Austin deck designs, Austin deck ideas

Outdoor Kitchen Austin

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Thu, Feb 22, 2018 @ 16:02 PM

     While planning an Austin outdoor kitchen space, you'll need to think about how many people you intend to accommodate given size of the area you plan to include. What are your entertaining needs you plan on furnishing in your new outside space? Identify your budget. The next step is to determine the best location for your kitchen, the size requirements, design layout designating certain areas for certain functions, counter top placement and arrangement, and the appliances and amenities you require. Don't isolate the cook away from the rest of the party. Finally, you must choose the best materials and equipment for accomplishing all your goals that will endure the outside elements because more than likely they will be built into a fixed size placement.

Austin Outdoor Kitchen

     An outdoor kitchen is an excellent way to equip your backyard for entertaining and feeding hungry friends and family. Our Austin climate gives us the flexibility of expanding our living areas into the outdoors. Outdoor kitchens range from small prefab areas with little more than a built in BBQ grill to large, fully equipped custom kitchens complete with one or more grills, extended counter tops, sinks, bars, pizza ovens, and storage cabinets. A fully equipped outdoor kitchen can be a big investment, but one that is sure to add lasting value to your Austin home. Plan for utilities. When planning layouts, keep in mind the best practical placement or installation of the necessary gas, water and electrical supply. Add music and other entertainment remembering that TV screens are burned out by sunlight making them hard to see. Extend the outdoor entertaining season with heaters, shade and rain shelter. Incorporate shade trees, pergolas and awnings in cooking and dining areas, but don't put a combustible ceiling or awning above an outdoor grill.

     Your Austin outdoor kitchen concept should include designated free flowing zones for food prep, cooking, dining, and socializing. Apply good kitchen design principles for functional zones of the kitchen. Cold areas for refrigeration, hot areas for cooking, wet areas for sinks, and dry areas for food prep. The shape of your outdoor kitchen layout will depend on the location of your new outdoor kitchen to the proximity of your home. Traffic pattern and flow will determine most first steps when designing an outdoor kitchen while galley, C, and U shapes come to mind. Detached areas as in around pools or yard settings give you greater flexibility with your design as it has the capability to expand into your surroundings. More extensive outdoor kitchen designs will usually include side burners, searing areas, flat tops, and warming drawers to name a few amenities but most of these items will require precious additional space or totally designated areas. Provide adequate task lighting as well as ambient lighting to accommodate evening after dark cooking and entertaining.

     Compliment your home's architecture and landscape with your outdoor kitchen design. Mix in some of the stone or brick that is on your home. If a cover is included you can make it look like the rest of your home or totally stand out like a gazebo. The rear wall of your kitchen will surely need to match your home at least on the outside elevation. The inside wall can be covered in anything you desire from tile, stone, metal or any other noncombustible components that are available. The counter top should withstand your climate conditions. Fortunately in Austin we can use tile in our designs because of decreased frosts but solid surfaces are better at being more bacteriastatic. Quartz sheet goods, solid surface materials, and UV resistant cultured granite are excellent choices for the top. Any use of natural stone like granite, onyx, or limestone will require sealing of the top at a higher rate than suggested because it is located outside.

     Plan the entire outdoor entertaining space as part of a single functional plan. Know the choices for equipment and materials by doing your homework and be sure your choices are within your budget. Contact T-Square Company at 512-444-0097 for further information.

 

Tags: outdoor kitchen Austin, Austin outdoor kitchen, Austin outdoor kitchens, Outdoor kitchens in Austin, Austin outdoor kitchen designs, Austin decks and patios

Aging In Place Remodeling Considerations

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Tue, Feb 20, 2018 @ 13:02 PM

     Regardless of your age, you may want to recognize and take under advisement some universal design techniques for your next new construction or home remodeling project. Some people confuse aging in place with universal design.  Both are a method to increase accessibility within the home but aging in place strictly deals with an existing home. Aging in place design also implies modifying any home for it's older occupants to insure that the inhabitants can safely remain there as long as they possibly can through elder living solutions.  This time will expire once they need assisting medically trained help for safeguarding their personal safety in a nursing home or an assisted living environment.  Universal design is just that; offering choices to all of a home's residents no matter their age or physical capabilities.  It starts with a design and then the construction begins. When universal design ideas are incorporated into their floor plan, homes can accommodate the needs of their owners as those needs evolve over time.  Better yet, at time of resale your home will be available to a much larger market of consumers.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

Austin ADA Kitchen

     There are really three categories of aging in place customers requiring home modifications.  Those who are simply and wisely planning ahead for their futures to remain in their present homes.  The second category concerns those people who know they have a chronic medical disorder and need to prepare in advance for accessibility issues which will come as a result of their disease.  People with diseases that are constantly causing increased physical or mental changes to their being are a good representative of this second group.  The third group involves those people who either have had a chronic problem that has  progressed severely altering their mobility or those who have sustained a life altering tragedy such as being involved in an accident.  All of these groups will drive the future metamorphosis of existing inaccessible dwellings.

Principles Of Universal Design

Elder Construction

      Each individual with similar impairments describes his or her limitations differently when undergoing elder construction.  The blind don't experience their world the same as a person with deafness.  The checklist below contains features you may want to consider for your next new construction or renovation project. It also provides a quick reference for various aging in place issues. Because this list is not comprehensive due to people's differing needs, it’s best to also consult with a Certified Aging In Place Specialist. To find one in your area, go to nahb.org/capsdirectory

Download Our Free Aging In Place Remodeling Considerations Checklist

The interior floor plan

A single story one level living area without steps between living areas or attached rooms

A 5-foot by 5-foot clear/turn space in living area, kitchen, a bedroom, and one bathroom

A clear hallway of at least 36" in width being well lit providing an accessible barrier free route of travel throughout the home

All thresholds and transitions along the clear floor space should be tapered and no more than 1/2" in height

All doors should be minimally 36" wide along the accessible route producing a 32" clear opening. All doors should have lever hardware

Kitchen and laundry

Wall support and provision for adjustable and/or varied height counters and removable base cabinets

Upper wall cabinetry three inches lower than conventional height

Accented stripes on edge of counter tops to provide visual orientation to the work space

Counter space for dish landing adjacent to or opposite all appliances

Base cabinet with roll out trays and lazy Susans

Pull-down shelving

Glass-front cabinet doors

Open shelving for easy access to frequently used items

Appliances

Easy to read controls located at front

Washing machine and dryer raised 12-15 inches above floor

Front loading laundry machines

Microwave oven at counter height or below

Side-by-side refrigerator/freezer

Side-swing or wall oven

Raised dishwasher with push-button controls

Electric cook top with level burners for safety in transferring between the burners, front controls and downdraft feature to pull heat away from user; light to indicate when surface is hot

Miscellaneous

A 30-inch by 48-inch clear space at appliances or 60-inch diameter clear space for turns

Multi-level work areas to accommodate cooks of different heights

Open under-counter seated work areas

Placement of task lighting in appropriate work areas

Loop handles for easy grip and pull

Pull-out spray faucet; levered handles

Bathroom

Wall support and provision for adjustable and/or varied height counters and removable base cabinets

Contrasting color edge border at counter tops

At least one wheelchair maneuverable bath on main level with 60-inch turning radius or acceptable T-turn space and 36-inch by 36-inch or 30-inch by 48-inch clear space

Bracing in walls around tub, shower, shower seat, and toilet for installation of grab bars to support 250-300 pounds

If stand-up shower is used in main bath, it is curbless and minimum of 36-inches wide or for any custom tub shower conversions

Bathtub - lower for easier access

Fold down seat in the shower

Adjustable/handheld shower heads, 6-foot hose

Tub/shower controls offset from center and below 48"

Low profile shower stall with built-in antibacterial protection

Light over shower stall

Comfort height toilet two and half inches higher than standard toilet (17-19 inches) or height-adjustable

Design of the toilet paper holder allows rolls to be changed with one hand

Wall-hung sink with knee space and panel or insulation to protect user from scalding pipes

Slip-resistant flooring in bathroom and shower

Electrical, lighting, safety, and security

Light switches by each entrance to halls and rooms

Light receptacles with at least two bulbs in vital places (exits, bathroom)

Light switches, thermostats, electrical panels and other environmental controls placed in accessible locations no higher than 48 inches from floor

Electrical outlets 18-inches above the floor and may need to be closer than 10-feet apart

Clear access space of 30-inches by 48-inches in front of switches and controls

Rocker or touch light switches

Easy-to-see and read thermostats set at or below 48"

Programmable thermostats

Home wired for security

Other ideas

Separate apartment for rental income or future caregiver

Flex room that can used as a nursery or playroom when the children are young and as a home office later; if combined with a full bath, room could also be used for an aging parent/aging in place

     Let's face it, accessible homes are needed by all of us at some time in our lives.  This is true whether it's for ourselves, a family member, or a guest.  The need is certainly not driven by age but is a result of life's experience sometimes requiring wheelchair remodeling.  Any family living with disability among any of it's generations within it's group can always benefit from additional accessibility.   This will in turn increase safety and independence for all involved as they go through life. 

     The National Association of Home Builders, in partnership with the AARP and Home Innovation Research Labs, created the CAPS program, which includes training and education on the technical, business management and customer service skills essential to compete in the fastest growing segment of the residential remodeling industry--home modifications for aging in place.  David L. Traut, CAPS 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.

     For additional information about the CAPS program, visit nahb.org/CAPS.  For more information about T-Square Company, visit www.tsquareco.com or call 512-444-0097.

Aging In Place Home Modifications

Tags: aging in place home modifications, wheelchair accessible baths and kitchens, handicap home modifications, ADA remodeling, aging in place designs, aging in place services, aging in place design,, certified aging in place specialist, Austin elder construction, handicap home modifications for disabled, handicap accessibility, handicap remodeling contractors, bathroom modifications for disabled, home modifications Austin, Texas, ADA bathroom Austin, Texas, wheelchair accessible showers in Austin,, roll in showers, accessibility designs Austin Texas, handicap bathrooms, home modifications for independent living Austin, universal design/build ideas

Austin Accessible Home Remodeling

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Mon, Feb 05, 2018 @ 15:02 PM

     Aging in place design, construction, and remodeling has become synonymous with accessible home remodeling during our lifetime.  Home modifications can be used to accommodate anyone from people with mobility impairments to those with vision loss, hearing loss, or even cognitive or developmental disabilities. A revolution in building design standards is long overdue in Austin.  Our current building design standards do not address the needs of more than one third of our existing population.  Many more people can greatly benefit from accessible design versus conventional design.  Our rapidly aging population is experiencing the limitations of our personal living environments.  Any evolution in building practically always begins in the common areas of the commercial building sector.  The American Disabilities Act of 1990 increased the attention needed for those people having the right to equally access their work place and any recreational or leisure facilities.  These rules at least offer minimal solutions for those needing the most help with any building access.  We now must  provide access to one bathroom on the first floor in new homes as deemed by our newly adopted building regulations.  This basic right to an accessible bathroom is finally being enforced by the city building inspectors.  What a tremendous needed and basic design improvement!  This change in thought works great for new home owners but what about our existing inventory of older homes and their occupants? 

Principles Of Universal Design

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

Austin ADA vanity

 

Increase Your Accessibility

 

    The National Association of Home Builders, in partnership with the AARP and Home Innovation Research Labs, created the CAPS program, which includes training and education on the technical, business management and customer service skills essential to compete in the fastest growing segment of the residential remodeling industry--home modifications for aging in place.  David L. Traut, CAPS owner of T-Square Company in Austin, Texas as a handicap remodeling contractor 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, training, and knowledge necessary to design and remodel or modify a home to meet the unique needs of the older population, disabled owners, or their visitors.

Download Our Free Aging In Place Remodeling Considerations Checklist

    Elder construction most definitely falls under the category of aging in place. People are living significantly longer with the advent of specialized medicine, care, and a healthier lifestyle. The Center for Disease Control defines aging in place as the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably regardless of age, income, or ability level.  Aging in place construction and remodeling has become synonymous with handicap accessible home design and modification during our lifetime.   Home modifications can be used to accommodate anyone from people with mobility impairments to those with vision loss, hearing loss, or even cognitive or developmental disabilities.  Accessibility home modifications or wheelchair accessible kitchen and bathroom remodeling in Austin will allow anyone with limited mobility within your home to feel more empowered and independent.  The extent of a customized accessibility design is dependent upon the activity level of the person requiring the modifications.  Whether someone needs a cane, walker, or wheelchair to help with mobility it is definitely a game changer for accessibility within the home.  Aging in place home modifications help people maintain their living environment for as long as it works for them before they might need assisted living care or a nursing home.

    Many people find themselves needing accessible homes for themselves or family members. There are approximately 30 million Americans using wheelchairs and the number of people who need accessible homes will continue to increase as disabled and aging people are finding more ways to remain living in their homes. One important way to increase independent living is making a home accessible to any individual personal needs. Home modifications can increase safety, accessibility, and independence for people who want to live independently. Falls and slips are among the most common causes of injury to senior and elderly people.  Smooth surfaces in combination with wet areas make the bathroom one of the most dangerous areas within the home.  It is of paramount importance that the bathroom be updated providing safety for any person with limited mobility or the elderly.  If you are on a tight budget and can only afford a few modifications, the bathroom is the first place to begin an accessibility remodel.  The most basic improvements to enhance safety issues are fairly inexpensive.

    Disability is a complex phenomenon representing an interaction between one's physical impairments, the activities they need to perform, and the architectural barriers within the space in which this situation occurs.  The terminology and jargon used for disabilities evolves regularly whereas, "handicapped" is no longer acceptable.  It is no longer merely a description of intellectual or physical impairments.  Each individual with similar impairments describes his or her limitations differently.  The blind don't experience their world the same as a person with deafness and so on. Physically challenged has become the more socially accepted description of a person with an impairment. No matter how old you are you should periodically evaluate your residence to determine whether it suits you not just for the present but the future. Your home assessments will be rethought every time your living situation changes. Whether childproofing for a newborn, making a home more accessible following a sickness or unfortunate accident to someone in the family, or making a toilet area safer for an aging residing parent, there will be an immediate evolution to your primary domicile. These same life span design features are even more important if you believe you're past the age of wanting to move and are relishing the thought of aging in your own home, no matter what physical limitations you might later develop.  Incorporating smart aging design concepts like a roll in shower into a home will attract a larger group of buyers when you decide to finally sell your home. Preparing for one of those highly likely events involving someone in your home needing room modifications for even a short time while recovering from surgery is surely a smart move. Solving aging in place issues will soon become the number one challenge concerning the present obsolete housing inventory in our country. 

    Let's face it, accessible homes are needed by all of us at some time in our lives.  This is true whether it's for ourselves, a family member, or a guest.  The need is certainly not driven by age but is a result of life's experience.  Any family living with disability among any of the generations within it's group can always benefit from additional accessibility.  This will in turn increase safety and independence for all involved as they go through life. 

    Finding a contractor familiar with the guidelines of accessibility can be quite difficult. Be sure to check out the credentials of any potential bidders you contact.  Be sure they understand that the alterations you are seeking are for wheel chair accessible home remodeling and modifications.  Furthermore be sure this person knows and practices both the federal and most importantly your state's requirements before entering into any contract concerning Austin accessible home remodeling.  The total assessment of any situation involving increased accessibility requires the input of the qualified building remodeler and any caretakers or family members who are involved with the person requiring the home modifications.

    Aging in place home modifications are available through T-Square Company. We are a certified aging in place specialist.  Each design/build situation will be customized to fit your personal needs increasing your accessibility. Call 512-444-0097 today to begin the accessible second chapter of your life while remaining safe and secure in your existing home. CAPS #1636580

Aging In Place Home Modifications

 

Tags: barrier free access, aging in place remodeling, aging in place home improvements in Austin, aging in place designs, aging in place specialist, aging in place design,, Austin elder construction, handicap accessibility, house remodeling Austin, wheelchair accessible showers in Austin,, roll in showers in Austin, house remodeling Austin, Texas, home modifications for independent living Austin, disability remodeling in Austin, Austin Handicap Remodeling, universal design/build, universal design/build ideas, Austin Accessibility Design, Austin senior living solutions, Austin accessible home remodeling, Austin ADA vanity