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

Applying Principles Of Universal Design In Austin

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Tue, Jul 24, 2018 @ 15:07 PM

     Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. Some universal design/build ideas just make good sense. Once you bring them into your home, you'll wonder how you ever lived without them.

Universal Design In Austin

    Can you envision building a house as a young adult that you can live in comfortably while you age no matter what your basic physical needs require? This evolving home will contain wide doorways and hallways that can accommodate both a stroller and a wheelchair or walker. There will be a wide open feeling throughout the house's main living areas in the bathroom, kitchen, and living area that do not restrict moving about. Your universally designed home has the capability to age with you and should not need further modifications to accommodate future life changes for any of it's family members. This universal designed home is barrier free without looking modified and is accessible to everyone no matter of their age, size, or capability of movement. This home will be accessible to everyone from your father to your son. People's personal needs vary with age and the Universal Design of products, services, and environments provide adaptations for aging in place to everyone regardless of their age, ability, or situation. Universal Design becomes invisible when incorporated into a home remodel and is only present when help with accessibility is needed. Furthermore, an appealing universal design project creates a greater resale potential. Aging in place construction drastically provides immediate accessibility while universal design techniques provide for gradual changes for accessibility now and when needed in the future. Both Universal Design and Aging In Place building concepts are not age related but each has to do with the dwelling we choose to live in for as long as possible and the extent of modifications that will be needed to accomplish this life choice.

Increase Your Accessibility

    Universal Design isn’t just for the elderly or the permanently disabled. As Americans age, they’re beginning to realize that their homes need to adapt for future life needs. Consumers are more cognizant today of the benefits of a universally designed home, but they may not realize it can be beautiful as well as functional. Everyone can use universal design! It doesn't matter if you are young or old. You could be short or tall, healthy or ill. You might have a disability or you may be a star athlete. Because of universal design ideas, people who are very different can all enjoy the same home. And that home will be there for all its inhabitants even when their needs evolve. The need for Aging In Place home modifications or remodeling later can be lessened from the time of first moving into the home if living areas are planned using common sense and forethought.

     Universal Design does not strictly deal with accessibility and does not implement precise ADA standards but it does offer flexibility to add accessories now and later to those planning ahead or to the end user. It also provides for a wide range of human performance characteristics for the way people use spaces within their homes including well integrated usability features. These adaptations have a broad market appeal to everyone for achieving ease of use, safety, and convenience accommodating a certain reality. That reality is that all people exist along a continuum of human performance as per their personal traits and characteristics regardless of their age. A universal approach to design takes into account that everyone has varying degrees of ability and disability rather than someone is either fully-functional or disabled. A universal design is appealing to all users.

Accessible Homes Of Austin

     There are seven criteria which must be met to be considered a universal design no matter which area of the home you are referring to. Any design must be equally useful to everyone, have flexibility in it's usefulness, be simple and intuitive, be perceived by everyone, have a tolerance for error, require little physical effort, and it must maintain an adequate area for approach and use. Any complexity or discriminating attribute to a design will doom it in terms of  being considered universal in nature.

     Let's face it, an accessible home is 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 a 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. 

Aging in place home modifications are available through T-Square Company in Austin. Each universal design/build situation will be customized to fit your personal needs. Call 512-444-0097 today to begin to prepare for the accessible second chapter of your life while remaining safe and secure in your existing home.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

CAPS 1636580

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ADA Bathroom Vanity In Austin, Texas

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Tue, Jul 24, 2018 @ 14:07 PM

     Problems encountered while accessing your home when you are wheelchair bound generally begin before or at the front door.  If you can reach the front porch approach without obstruction then you have a great start since the stairs leading onto the front porch can be another matter all together.  A correctly designed ramp having a 1:12 slope can adequately solve this problem.  The use of grab bars and any railings will be dictated by the ramp's design and the regulations and physical limitations involved.   Once your safely upon the porch, your home's front door width can become an issue.  Any entry door less than three feet in width will cause a problem in maintaining a required 32 inch clear entry way which starts the new accessible route within your home.  Rolling over any vertical threshold height greater than 1/2" is also difficult to maneuver.  Once inside the structure a new set of problems concerning your accessibility will be discovered.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

     A traditional home builder has never truly considered the special needs of the disabled or aging within any home design. Unfortunately the design emphasis is always put on aesthetics and takes for granted everyone's mobility.  There certainly are no guarantees or clauses within any home's sales contract that will prevent our future personal life experiences from  introducing us to at least a temporary disability.  Accidents will always happen and you could find yourself having to utilize a wheelchair or walker to facilitate your independence for mobility.  Limitations in our mobility or constantly changing needs experienced by both the disabled and the elderly have sprung a new dimension in construction known as ADA remodeling to accomplish increased accessibility.  Our homes have always been exempt from any and all of the accessibility regulations that have been put in place since 1968 when our Viet Nam veterans were returning home. The new evolving concept known as Universal Design for home remodeling is catching on nation wide and has been for several years as a sign of the times.  Universal design techniques used in building makes a home more accessible to all regardless of their mobility or adaptive abilities. An evolution of new products used for disability home modifications is making those homes more accessible and has finally come about in the remodeling industry.  These new advances in accessible home remodeling in Austin not only keep the living environments safer but will not compromise the home's aesthetics. 

Home Accessibility Help

     An accessible bathroom for the user's convenience and safety becomes the first issue for anyone using a wheelchair or walker for either a short time while recovering or for the rest of their life.  The disability access bathroom will be located within the home's accessible route.  Any architectural barriers encountered while approaching the bathroom entrance will need to be removed.  The minimum clear widths have to be observed.  This will include the bathroom door itself.  Twenty four to twenty eight inch wide doors are commonly used during the construction of American homes for accessing the bathroom.  However, anything below three feet does not meet the 32 inch required clear width needed for clearance of a wheelchair. This work may involve framing alterations and moving light switches.  The electrical changes should be done by a licensed electrician assuring your safety.

     A completely serviceable special needs bathroom must contain at least one ADA vanity and the accessible route must be defined.   The vanity must be one with a clear underneath scald protected area having an unobstructed roll under capability for wheelchairs.  These new residential vanities do not need to look institutional.  They can be designed like any other piece of fine furniture.  A five foot turning radius allowing the wheelchair to maneuver into any approach must also be associated with the ADA vanity.  A 36x48" clear approach area to the vanity must be observed and this can overlap the five foot turning radius.  The area of travel will then be enhanced by an unobstructed clear accessible barrier free route dedicated to reaching the vanity. 

Austin ADA Vanity

     Bathroom cabinets in Austin vary by style and usability.  There are basically two styles of ADA bathroom vanities that comply with an unobstructed 27" tall roll under area below the sink.  ADA sinks with a rear drain location provide for better plumbing drain hook ups.  This modification has everything to do with both the water supply lines and the waste line connecting the sink.  There must be provisions made to protect the user from being scalded when coming into contact with any one of the plumbing pipes serving the sink.  These connecting pipes may become heated merely by the water passing through them creating the problem.  The open type model should always receive both waste and supply insulating jackets applied directly to the pipes providing protection for the wheelchair user.  The closed model concealing the pipes will be equipped with a removable face or face board covering the pipes.  This pipe concealing panel must be installed at the correct wheelchair user clearance angle.  This allows for the needed unobstructed legroom required for the  user.  The vanity can extend beyond the sink but the area containing the sink is required to have this roll under capability.  This section of the vanity top must not be any taller than 34 inches above the finished floor with sufficient lower leg clearance.  Clear unobstructed reach distances around the counter top area must be observed.  Any motion controlled sensors integrated into the various dispensing devices and/or plumbing fixtures throughout the restroom present a true hands free benefit to all the restroom users.  If these aren't in the budget then at least wrist handles used for controlling the faucet can be incorporated into the design of the vanity.  Furthermore, automatic flush valves should be used on all toilets and urinals that provide for hands free use.

Fine Cabinetry

ADA Bathroom Cabinets

     Finding a contractor familiar with the guidelines of Elder construction and 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.

     Aging in place home modifications are available through T-Square Company. We are a certified aging in place (CAPS) specialist.  Each design/build situation will be customized to fit your personal needs. 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

     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. 

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