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

Handicap Accessible Toilet

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Fri, Apr 26, 2019 @ 10:04 AM

     A bathroom designed for someone who is aging in place is very different than one based on aesthetics or home value. Remodeling when considering future needs requires intuitive thought and considerations before you begin. The issues to consider include a safe design having ease of use by everyone and the people who will be using the facilities. Remember that remodeling a bathroom will take time and effort and there will be costs involved. When someone wants to age in place it is worthwhile to explore a universal design bathroom design that is both comfortable and safe to use as the occupant’s personal needs change. The bathroom is one space in the home where safety is of the utmost importance. From the toilet, to the shower, the vanity, and onto the lighting, there are adaptations and products to help keep the bathroom a safe place for all.

Handicap Home Modifications In Austin

     The goal of an accessible bathroom design is to make the bathroom a safe space for everyone who uses the facilities. Aging in place services use universal design to accommodate wheelchair use and can make the bathroom more comfortable for all generations with or without specific needs. It is important to carefully outline the scope of work during the remodeling of an accessible bathroom by first taking inventory of the users capabilities, needs, and preferences. All disability home remodeling or disability bath remodels must be done considering all the data provided by the client, his or her family, and any caretakers involved. Aging in place design must be carried out by an aging in place specialist holding a CAPS certificate. Only an experienced qualified remodeler holding a CAPS certificate has the qualifications to design an accessible route and perform the construction required to make it safe and functional for the AIP customer. Accessible bathrooms with custom walk in showers and kitchens are available using the right education and experience. Never consider hiring a "jack of all trades but master of none" type handyman to tear your bathroom apart. What's more, you certainly do not want to witness such a person struggling to piece the room back together attempting to achieve your long desired bathroom remodel idea. If so, you will absolutely learn a hard and invaluable lesson in getting what you pay for by accepting the handyman's cheapest bid.

Handicap Accessibility

     In 1990, The Americans With Disability Act (ADA) set forth the guidelines for accessibility within public and commercial buildings. We use these same guidelines today when designing for people's increased accessibility within their home since no laws exist for the residential marketplace. Most of the requirements are merely common sense when universal design techniques are practiced. For instance, the standards for toilets regulate the height, the clearance in front and to the sides, the positions of grab bars and toilet paper holders, and the operation of the flush mechanism.

     The height of a standard toilet is 17 inches or lower with 14 1/2 inches being the common height. The ADA guidelines mandate a distance between 17 and 19 inches from top of the seat to the floor on a handicap toilet. If the toilet is for use by children the height must be between 11 to 17 inches. The flush control is required to be on the open side of the toilet and should have easy one hand operation.

     If you're designing a bathroom for handicapped use, implementing ADA standards within the design make it easier for wheelchair bound people to maneuver around the toilet. Consider the placement of the toilet in relation to walls and barriers in the bathroom. Having a clear floor space with at least 48 inches between the walls on either side of the toilet to make it easier to negotiate the approach. The toilet should be positioned a distance of 18 inches from one of the walls to create an approach space on the opposite side of the toilet. If the lavatory is situated on a side wall it must be placed at least 18 inches from the toilet. Space requirements in front of an ADA toilet vary according to the placement of the toilet, but in general, you need about 66 inches from the back wall to the wall opposite the toilet which is almost standard in a bathroom dictated by the width of a standard tub. A clear five foot turning radius should be observed for maximizing wheelchair operations. Grab bars are required in all ADA compliant bathrooms or toilet stalls. You should provide them behind the toilet and on the side walls and they should be 33 to 36 inches above the finished floor. The grab bar lengths should be twenty four to thirty six inches behind toilet and forty two to forty eight inches on the side wall with the bar located two feet from the front of the toilet. Folding grab bars can be used when the side wall isn't sufficient and they fold up for convenient out of the way storage.

Home Accessibility Help

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ADA Compliant Grab Bars

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Apr 24, 2019 @ 16:04 PM

     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 into a home will attract a larger group of buyers when you decide to finally sell your home.

ADA Compliant Bathroom In Austin

     When mobility becomes an issue for any homeowner, regardless of age, the question arises concerning physically moving to a different home with a bath that is more accessible or making the existing home modifications which will meet the need of the new life changes.Solving aging in place issues will soon become the number one challenge concerning the present obsolete housing inventory in our country. Our present day obsolete homes now inhabited by the baby boomer generation will slowly and increasingly raise their outdated and obsolete ugly heads and expose their true lack of kitchen or bathroom accessibility to those very people inhabiting them. The situation will only become ever more expanding in time. When these homes were previously purchased, they represented an absolute castle in the world of their owners in which to prepare for a day and they also acted as a retreat from life's tough interactions. They housed our families, our memories, and our stuff. They represented a place where we could be ourselves. 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 and specialized handicap remodeling contractors for home remodeling is catching on nationwide 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.

     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 an individual’s personal needs. Home modifications making homes wheelchair accessible can increase safety, accessibility, and independence for people who want to live independently.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

     Falls and slips are among the most common causes of injury to senior or elderly people and for those with a disability. 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. Grab bar installation will greatly improve safety and usability of the bathroom.

     If the residence is fairly new and uses universal design techniques or the geographic area uses accessible housing standards, the walls in the tub area and the walls behind and next to the toilet should have extra blocking. Blocking is a structural reinforcement within a wall that allows a grab bar to be attached securely to withstand a 250 pound force. Studs can also be used but may not be located in the most desirable location for the length of the grab bar being used. The purpose of a grab bar is to help support a person, and the grab bar must be able to support a person's weight until help arrives or the person can right themselves. A grab bar is both pulled and pushed against.The standard size for a grab bar is 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter and should be 1-1/2 inches away from the wall. With some new construction, blocking is placed in the walls such that grab bars can be installed easily at a later date when needed. If there is no blocking in the walls, it can be added later but the wall must be open up to expose the studs. The recommended type is 3/4 inch plywood, 6 to 12 inches wide and nailed into the studs or a 2 by 6 or 8 inch block nailed into the studs. Today, grab bars come in many metal finishes and decorative shapes. Contrasting colors are easier to see in an emergency. Grab bars with a slight milled in texture are easier to grip. The blocking should be the full length of the tub and at both ends. This allows grab bars to be installed anywhere in the area or in more than one place. Never install grab bars on an angle where wet hands can slip. Grab bars should exist on all sides of the shower and tub walls. At the toilet, the blocked areas should be behind the toilet and on at least one side. If there is no wall next to the toilet, an L-shaped grab bar can be installed by attaching the front end to the floor and the back to the wall behind the toilet. All grab bars should be installed at the universal height of 34-36 inches above the finished floor. Folding grab bars can be used when adjacent walls don't exist in a 24" reach distance for a seated person.

Handicap Accessibility

     Once the demands of our built environment exceed their capacities we become excluded from a room or even the entire home. The building world must work in unison to be sure the entire living environment meets basic needs in addition to affordability and structural integrity for the consumer and home owner. This includes both the home and the components within the home being accessible to all inhabitants. Privacy, sense of belonging, sense of control, and the sense of safety and security make up the quality of life for any home and should be considered for any design. Universal Design is where we are headed out of necessity.

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ADA Vanity Height

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Apr 24, 2019 @ 15:04 PM

     Modifying your bathroom following practiced wheelchair accessibility guidelines is a great place to start any universal remodel. This will provide access for both wheelchairs and walkers. Furthermore, you can help avoid many future injuries. Any wet area like the bath is the most dangerous of all your home's surrounding living space and is the most common area for falls and slips. Simply getting in or out of the tub or shower, using the toilet and sink, or just maneuvering over wet surfaces can be hazardous to your health. Installing properly positioned grab bars to increase safety is a great place to spend your money on a limited budget around the shower, toilet, and tub.

ADA Vanity In Austin

     Traditionally bathroom vanities were constructed so the finished cabinet top was 30” AFF above finished floor.This meant that taller people had to bend over and stand away from the sink in order to use it.This puts added stress on the lower back and legs diminishing the comfort factor.Typically bathroom vanities are 21" deep and approximately 29" tall. The depth is not a problem but most folks would prefer a universal design height of 34". Sinks shouldn't be mounted higher than 34 inches from the floor to the top of the cabinet top for an under mount or drop in model. The sinks should not exceed six inches in depth and should be installed within three inches from the front of the overhanging cabinet top edge. The ADA vanity cabinet or even a simple wall hung sink should have a knee clearance below of 27 inches high and be at a minimum 30 inches wide by 11-25 inches deep. A 9" high clear kick area (by 6" deep) at the floor should be maintained for a full height cabinet and be approximately ten inches deep according to the cabinet depth. Remember twenty four inches is the maximum reach distance while sitting in a wheelchair. The choice of sink styles depends on the personal preference of the user. Be sure the lavatory controls are easily controlled with lever or paddle handles and are capable of being operated with one hand and not requiring tight grasping, pinching, or pinching of the wrist. Knobs, discs, or ball type handles can be hard to operate by anyone with soapy hands and more so by someone having an arthritic condition or other ailments. The closer the sink valves can be toward the front of the sink the better. This can be accomplished by following the curved outline of the sink.

Home Accessibility Help

     Bathroom cabinets 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.

     To assure a clear floor space the lavatory must be installed at 24" from any side wall measuring from the center line of the sink. The distance from one sink to another if using a double lavatory layout should be at least 30" center to center. In the case of wall hung freestanding sinks the minimum distance between them should be 4" between the sink edges.  The clear floor space of 30 by 48 inches must be provided for accessing all bathroom fixtures and these areas can overlap one another. The adjoining and overlapping wheelchair turning space should be an unobstructed sixty inches in diameter. A wheelchair turning space could utilize a T-shaped space considering a sixty inch square having two 12"x24" areas removed from each corner of the square from the same side. This will be a 36" wide base with two 36" wide arms. T-shaped wheelchair turning spaces can include on one arm. In this case the clear width at the cabinet should be 36" to use the space as part of the T-turn.

     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 even though they are wheelchair accessible. They can be designed like any other piece of fine furniture. Scalding must be guarded against by using either insulating pipe wrap or a removable panel for the plumbing.

ADA Bathroom Cabinets

 

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Accessible Toilets

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Apr 24, 2019 @ 15:04 PM

     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 an individual’s personal needs. Home modifications making homes wheelchair accessible can increase safety, accessibility, and independence for people who want to live independently.

Accessible toilet in Austin

     The toilet is a uniquely useful fixture in the bathroom for waste disposal.Toilets are typically chosen to match the rest of the plumbing fixtures within the room. These waste ridding devices have evolved very little over the years but require hand strength and agility to be operated correctly. They are not manufactured with accompanying handholds compounding to the difficulty of some users. The seat height of toilets is a critical consideration with respect to comfort and are now available in increased heights ranging from 18-19 inches in height eliminating the deep knee bend or back aches needed for seating. This is a wider accepted choice than the toilet heights we have grown accustomed to at 14-15”. Additionally raised or elevated seats can be installed if needed.  These will provide an additional five inches in height but the elevated seats will most assuredly cause problems if children are also using the facilities. However, lower seat heights are problematic and can also hinder the ease of transferring from a wheelchair and back again. Assisting electrical power toilet lifts with attached grab bars can help raise and lower the user if required. Grab bars should be installed on at least two sides of the toilet. All grab bars must be secured into either adequate wood blocking or existing wall studs so they can hold at least 250 pounds of downward force. Creating a toilet within an open area which is approachable from both sides and not in a closet is much more accessible. Accessible toilets should never be placed in small alcoves. The old idea of placing them within a private room works well for those with a full range of mobility.  They should have a minimum clear width of 60" optimally and sufficient space to accommodate a wheelchair to the sides of the toilet or in front for transferring to and from the toilet. Toilet seats are also available with a heat feature and some have the ability to self-close or have a night light. Wall mounted toilets offer more accessible areas underneath for cleaning versus floor mounted models but are more expensive and not a readily available. An add on bidet attachment installed on a regular toilet can be handy and help improve hygiene especially when a caretaker is involved.  This is a cheaper idea than a free standing bidet and also concerns precious space.

Home Accessibility Help

     Toilets need to have the flush handle located toward the middle of the room and be of the correct height for comfort. Proper clearance from any walls (18" from any side wall to the center of the toilet) must be observed and the clear 30 inch by 48 inch approach to the toilet must be maintained. Grab bars should be installed both on the rear and sidewall of the toilet at 34 inches above the floor. If no side wall is present within a reasonable reach distance from the toilet then you can opt for a folding model as in the above photo.  Any bathroom transformation needs to include universal design characteristics and be accessible to everyone in the home.

Handicap Home Modifications

     Designing task oriented bathroom fixtures without consideration for their use, placement, or how they make up the bathroom environment makes up the current way of thinking universally.  The tub/shower, sink, and toilet are used individually and designing for the greatest approach clearance within clear spaces.  Observing minimal distance to traverse for each fixture location should take president within any accessible design.  This individual design will provide the greatest use of each fixture for the bathroom layout.  Emphasis must be placed on fixture placement to accomplish certain tasks but grouping these tasks where possible can be beneficial to everyone. The greater the proximity of the fixtures, the more efficient and convenient the design.  The universal bathroom can be a more enabling environment focusing on an individual’s capabilities with regards to the individual’s surroundings.

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ADA Vanity in Austin

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Mon, Apr 15, 2019 @ 16:04 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 remodeling 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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Accessible Bathroom Design Specifications

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Apr 03, 2019 @ 16:04 PM

     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.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

     Physical limitations affect many more people than the daily users of walkers and wheelchairs.  Many members of our life experienced or elder society have significant problems in dealing with their home environment.  Today's conventional building standards conflict with most people's accessibility when you consider our created architectural barriers concerning cabinetry and door opening widths, individual strength, range of motion, movement,  manual dexterity, balance, and coordination .  Once the demands of our built environment exceed their capacities we become excluded from a room or even the entire home.  The building world must work in unison to be sure the entire living environment meets basic needs in addition to affordability and structural integrity for the consumer and home owner.  Austin handicap remodeling is imperative considering bathroom remodeling includes both the home and the components within the home being accessible to all inhabitants.  Privacy, sense of belonging, sense of control, and the sense of safety and security make up the quality of life for any home and should be considered for any design for a handicap accessible bathroom remodel.

     Designing for specific physical conditions will lessen the impact of say arthritis, restricted mobility, or loss of vision by using a combinations of products, concepts, and techniques. A trained CAPS specialist is able to identify the day to day problems weighing on those with health limitations. If you are considering an aging in place remodel for your home don't just contact any local remodeler in your area and expect a satisfactory accessible home modification.  A professional design/build accessibility project can only be created for your specific needs by a qualified home remodeler having a nationally accepted CAPS certification.  This credential is backed by the NAHB.  Only a CAPS  home remodeler possesses the specific knowledge that will insure a successful outcome for your aging in place project and what's more, keep you in your home.

     The costs involved for handicap home modifications in Austin are really dictated by the amount of barrier free accessibility required by the person needing the assistance to be safe.  Comfort and safety for the home's inhabitants are key issues when designing an accessibility remodel.  Most homeowners nationally spend between $3,800 and $14,000 with a mean average expense of $7,500.  This cost again is based on the individual home modifications providing the greatest safety for those in need.

      Falls and slips are among the most common causes causes of injury to senior and elderly people requiring disability access remodeling.  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. 

Bathrooms With Disability Access In Austin, Texas

Home Accessibility Help

The Top Five Items To Include When Considering An Accessible Bathroom Design

1. Vanity Sink Accessibility

Wheelchair Accessible bathrooms today contain stylish ADA vanities set at a universal height of 34 inches with clear knee spaces.  Plan on 27 inches of vertical clearance for a wheelchair. The sink faucets must be easily controlled by either wrist handles or levers. The faucets can be fitted on the side of the sink to make them easier to reach. Or install infra-red faucets that detect motion. Hang the mirror low enough for a seated person to see themselves, and tip the top of the mirror out. 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. Scalding must be guarded against by using either insulating pipe wrap or a removable panel for the plumbing.

2. Toilet Accessibility

Toilets are available in comfort heights eliminating the deep knee bend needed for seating.  Grab bars should be installed on at least both sides of the toilet. Ideally, the toilet should be positioned between two support bars 36 inches apart. A toilet seat 17 inches off the floor is a more comfortable height for everyone. Creating a toilet within an open area and not a closet is much more accessible. Elevated or special toilet seats are available with a heat feature and some have the ability to self close or have a night light. A more expensive bidet/toilet is available but an add on bidet attachment to a regular toilet can be handy.

3. Bathing Facilities

Curbless roll in showers that are 5 feet wide and 3 feet deep having a 36" clear entrance are advised for everyone.  The shower should contain at least a shower wand on a sliding bar for varying heights of use along with a regular shower head and control if desired.  Installing fixtures with a scald guard or lowering the temperature at the water heater is a must to prevent burns. Folding seats in the shower are useful if caretakers are ever involved and they are much safer than a free standing shower seat which can fall over. Grab bars around the bath and especially in the shower should be used while non slip floor covering should always be considered. Walk in tubs are also a consideration but some people get chilled while the tub is draining. Install the slider bar for the hand held shower hose and head 4 feet off the floor so that the head can slide up to 6 feet high. Always use a shower valve that is thermostatically controlled and pressure-balanced to prevent scalds. If you desire a full body wash, you can include a regular shower head as well.

4. Safety and Accessibility

Always choose fixtures and fittings that are easy to control with a single hand motion or a closed fist. Motion controlled sensor fixtures are also a possibility when specifying finishes. Provide easily accessible storage compartments with pull out shelving eliminating architectural barriers by not using doors on the cabinetry. Always consider the individual needs of the occupant and find the best placement of any reachable items within their reach distance of 24". Fully consider where the best access is for all accessories such as robe hooks, towel bars, paper dispensers, soap dishes, toothbrush holders, shower shelves. The distances and clearances required will be dictated by the user and not by an accepted general outline. With falls in the wet area of the bathroom being such a great concern, a non slip tile floor should be installed without placing loose rugs in the general area. All doors should have levers instead of door knobs. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires a 5-foot turning radius for a wheelchair. But if space is tight, remodelers may be able to make do with less. "(The 5-foor turning radius) may not always be needed, especially with an electric chair, which will easily turn in a tighter space.

5. Lighting

Natural lighting is always better for anyone using the bath. Adequate task lighting in the shower, dressing area, and vanity vicinity should be installed. Lowered switches at around 48" above the floor in reaching distance should control all the lighting. You can install switches with a push button or large toggle that doesn't require a pinching motion to turn on and off. Outlets that are ground protected should be installed at 18" above the floor.

Handicap Accessibility

Aging in place home modifications are available through T-Square Company. 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

 

 

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