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

Universal Design Garages

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Nov 25, 2020 @ 18:11 PM

The garage is often overlooked when planning an Aging in Place project. A uniquely specified floor plan, special attention in how the house is entered from the garage and adequate lighting for safety encompass a Universal Design in the garage. Wider and higher clearances are required for greater accessibility. Universal Design for garages deals with the garage footprint and the associated maneuvering space around vehicles. The Universal Design garage floor plan includes a wide enough door to accommodate over-sized vehicles. A typical garage measures 22-24 feet in depth and 15-18 feet in width. Potentially accessible van storage changes a current double garage into a single car garage when the wheelchair user is entering or exiting the garage from a side door of the van. A clear five feet turning radius at the loading spot is observed allowing the wheelchair to freely move about. The single vehicle consumes the entire garage space since 15 feet in width is needed for van access on the side. Storage of a second vehicle resumes following the transport and unloading of the wheelchair user. Eighteen feet wide by eight feet tall over-sized garage doors are adequate for most any over-sized vehicle clearance. If rear vehicle ramps are needed for loading or unloading the disabled passenger supplementary space is needed.  The van is backed into the garage for this situation assuring the wheelchair user is underneath a protecting roof.

Universal Design Garage Layout in Austin

A typical garage has a 4 inch tire curb bump protecting the home from water flowing in.  This curb bump requires at least a 4 feet long ramp to overcome the change in elevation. The overall garage space is reduced using this accessibility aid. If the sunken garage has multiple steps, consider a space saving vertical platform lift as opposed to an extended ramp. This ultimately saves precious maneuvering garage space. Universal Design entries into the house require a no step entry through a 36 inch wide door. One major advantage concerning garage entries is they provide total weather protection for a disadvantaged person transitioning into the home heading toward the accessible route. To make entering the home even easier, install an electric door opener operated from a smartphone or keypad. It opens with the touch of a button and the integrated electric strike eliminates the need to fumble for keys. The opener has a built in safety delay allowing a person to pass clear of the door entrance before closing.

If adequate lighting in the garage was never a consideration it must be upgraded per Universal Design concepts. Proper lighting is one of the key components in Universal Design. It will help eliminate tripping and falling. At least one or more additional lights are installed where needed to overcome this problem especially in the direct vicinity of the home entrance door. These additional lights can be controlled by a motion switch causing them to come on automatically when anything enters the garage.  

Principles Of Universal Design    

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Modifying Your Home For A Disabled Child

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Tue, Sep 17, 2019 @ 13:09 PM

     Making your home accessible for a child with special needs can be costly; but,  it will also give your entire family a feeling of security and freedom if done correctly. It is estimated that 5.4 percent of children five to seven years old are disabled representing a considerably large portion of the population.  For those children, having a home they can feel comfortable in is very important as they mature. Modifying your home for a child with a disability can be accomplished using Universal Design techniques. This concept will also benefit everyone within the family. When your child has a disability, whether from birth or following an accident, you must evolve quickly from being only a parent into a caretaker.  It suddenly becomes your job not only to nurture your child but to identify his or her basic abilities and needs so your child can flourish in their world. Sometimes this is nearly impossible to do within a traditional home design. Since each type of disability is different; then each disability will require it's own special modifications to the house.  Note that no one single type of disability is experienced the same by everyone because everybody is unique and has special needs.  Specific modifications for wheelchair accessibility, visual impairments, sensory concerns, autism, or the use of special medical equipment along with any other of the child's special needs must be considered if the overall design is to be effective for the child. Generally, if a design works well for the disabled, it works equally well for everyone. With Universal Design thoughtful aesthetics and usability are harmonious. 

     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. 

Handicap Accessibility

     Neither the Universal Design or Inclusive Design concept is age driven nor is the aging in place issue. Universal Design addresses the design of all homes both new and existing while Aging In Place deals mostly with the built environment. Universal design/build addresses not only the problems all of today's homeowners face but the professional skills involved in design, building, remodeling, and all social and health services. This new evolving concept in 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, age, or adaptive abilities. The multi-generational appeal of Universal Design is appealing to any homeowner, their children, or their parents. 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.

Wheelchair Accessible Bathroom 

Wheelchair Accessible Bathroom In Austin

     Universal Design doesn't 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 of a dwelling. 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.  It is very important to consider the safety of each room, as well as the exterior of the house and common spaces. Consider your child’s unique needs and how you can make your house safer for them. Whether your child recently acquired a disability or you have moved into a house that needs modifications for increased accessibility, your home must be assessed by a qualified CAPS design/build remodeler. They will be able to correlate the changes to the home environment with the needs of your disabled child.

     Fortunately, to answer the demand for Universal Design, manufacturers continue to develop products for the home that help make the user’s experience safer and more comfortable. To answer the increasing demand for universal design, home appliance and plumbing manufacturers continue to develop products for the home that help make the user’s experience safer and more comfortable without sacrificing beauty.

      The main focus of any home modifications done for a disabled child must make them feel more comfortable and be able to maneuver through and use the home more safely.  It must present a safe place where he or she will be able to develop the life skills they need in their daily environment rather than just focusing on treatment regimens. Sometimes the living environment must be changed to make a significant impact on the child's life so they are able to feel safe and free to be themselves. Whatever is needed in the way of home modifications to create a safe and comfortable environment for your child is available through the registered and certified CAPS program practitioners. CAPS stands for Certified Aging In Place Specialist. This national 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 and is not age related. CAPS is a nationwide initiative and all active CAPS members can be found at nahb.org/CAPSdirectory

Home Accessibility Help

 

Certified Aging In Place Specialist In Austin

    

     Universal Design does not equate to aging in place and accessibility design even though they both are concerned with ergonomics and human function issues. The ADA guidelines for accessibility were created as a means to help those people with extreme disabilities within our society who represent a narrow but specific sample of the masses. It provides a great cross section with average guidelines for people and their surroundings.  A Universal Design approach broadly takes into account moderate impairments or disabilities, temporary health conditions, and the varying abilities of anyone within a home regardless of their age or size. In other words, an ADA accessible home would be designed for the one person with the disability whereas a Universal Design home is designed for everyone.  Each situation should be assessed separately and the designer must take into account the parameters of the space, budget, and client priorities. If all of these needs are met, the result can be beautiful, efficient spaces that improve the independence, safety, and convenience of all household members with particular attention toward the needs of the disabled child.

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Certified Aging In Place Specialist

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 children, or their visitors. For more information about T-Square Company, visit www.tsquareco.com or call 512-444-0097.

Wheelchair accessible remodeling is available through T-Square Company.

We offer complete Aging In Place Services and designs and we are just a phone call away!

 

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Handicap Bathroom Design

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Thu, Sep 12, 2019 @ 15:09 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.  The need for handicap bathrooms have been brought about by many factors,

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. 

Handicap bathroom design in Austin

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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Austin, Texas Wheelchair Accessible Bathroom

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Thu, Sep 12, 2019 @ 14:09 PM

    Designing for specific physical conditions during a handicap retrofit will lessen the impact of say arthritis, restricted mobility, or loss of vision by using combinations of products, concepts, and techniques available today. Working as a team, a trained CAPS specialist along with any family caretakers or therapists 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 (Certified Aging In Place Specialist) 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 accessibility or aging in place project and what's more, keep you in your home longer.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

 

handicap bathroom design in Austin

 Tub To Shower Conversions

    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.

    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.  This has brought about the realization that handicap bathrooms are needed.  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 accessibility design.

    Wheelchair accessible bathrooms today contain stylish 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 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.

    The threshold is the most dangerous component for any ADA compatible shower. Not only is it impossible to overcome in a wheelchair but it isn't safe for those who are vision impaired or those with mobility issues. Curbless roll in showers that are 5 feet wide and 3 feet deep having a 36" clear entrance are advised for everyone.  Low threshold shower bases with add on ramps can solve the shower entry problem when the floor cannot be lowered to form a true contoured roll in slope. The accessible 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.  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 installed below or at 48" from the finished floor 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. 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 fixtures and finishes. Built-in shower seats provide comfort and safety but can sometimes get in the way of accessibility. Folding seats are an option in the shower and are useful if caretakers are ever involved or a shower chair is ever required. These seats are much safer than a free standing shower seat which can collapse and cause a fall. Recessed shampoo niches located 48" above the floor help keep shower floors or seats free of trip hazards. Grab bars around the bath and especially on each wall in the shower installed at 34-36" above the floor should be used. 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. Non slip floor covering should always be considered with a 0.5 friction coefficient rating. Enclosures can vary by the accessibility needed by all and can be everything from an out-swinging frame-less door to just a simple glass splash panel or even a curtain on a curved rod.  Walk in tubs are also a consideration but some people get chilled while the tub is draining.

Handicap Accessibility

     Austin handicap remodeling,  aging in place home modifications, and ADA Accessible kitchens are available through T-Square Company. Each design/build handicap accessibility 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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Accessibility Home Modifications

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Sep 04, 2019 @ 12:09 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 accessibility home modifications for a home's elder design  will attract a larger group of buyers when you decide to finally sell your home.  Accessible home modifications have become a major component within the housing industry when considering our senior homeowners.

Principles Of Universal Design

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

    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.  If your home needs modifications for a disabled child, remember that each type of disability is different and each requires special modifications to the house.  This statement also holds true for aging adults.

Accessibility Remodeling In Austrin

Handicap Accessibility

    Physical limitations affect many more people than the daily users of walkers and wheelchairs.  Many members of our society experience a need for elder construction having 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.  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.

   When mobility becomes an issue for any homeowner or family member, regardless of age, the question arises concerning physically moving to a different home on one level with at least a bath that is more accessible. Austin handicap remodeling can help in 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.  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 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 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.  In fact, there are many benefits to using universal design techniques, including potential use by aging family members, added resale value, and the fact that you'll be creating a space that can be used by anyone who visits your home, regardless of their range of abilities. Simple universal design updates for aging in place home modifications and handicap accessibility can include adding grab bars or handrails throughout the home, adding a seat within the roll in shower, lowering upper cabinets and counter tops, adding non-slip flooring, widening hallways or installing stair lifts, and widening doors.  You might also consider lowering light switches and thermostats and installing easier to use door knobs.  You should try to provide a clear barrier free path or accessible route to the most visited areas of your home as recommended by the ADA. Remember that a more open space gives room for maneuverability while using any mobility aid required.

Download Our Free Aging In Place Remodeling Considerations Checklist

   There are really three categories of aging in place customers.  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. The goal of an accessible bathroom design in Austin 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 in Austin 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 who is also a reputable residential remodeling professional.

    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 and ADA accessibility in Austin, Texas.  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.

Home Accessibility Help

 

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What Is Aging In Place

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Tue, Aug 27, 2019 @ 14:08 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

Aging In Place Living Area In Austin

     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

 

Aging In Place Designs

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 home 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

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What Is Universal Design?

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Tue, Aug 27, 2019 @ 14:08 PM

    Universal design refers to broad-spectrum ideas meant to produce buildings, products and environments that are inherently accessible to older people, people without disabilities and people with disabilities. Universal Design adaptations have a broad market appeal to everyone for achieving ease of use, safety, and convenience accommodating a certain reality. The 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 approach is appealing to all users no matter their age, size, or physical well being. Universal Design is important because our current design standards for housing do not address the design needs of more than one third of our population.  Too often the designers of homes allow the built environment to define the capabilities of the resident.  Universal Design allows for our antiquated architecture to be defined by both our changing human needs and abilities.

Principles Of Universal Design

     There are seven criteria or principles 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. However what better way can you improve on a home's total visitability by everyone? 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.

 

Bathroom Using Universal Design Techniques

     Whether you refer to this revolution in housing today as accessible design, inclusive design, or universal design it is all about making a home safe, attractive, and easy to use for all of the inhabitants. It has nothing to do with the age, agility, or status of life for anyone living within the home. The main intent of this way of thinking is to be sure the inhabitants are able to enjoy their home throughout their entire lifetime utilizing the universal design principles which have been designed into their home when it was built. This way aging in place can be accomplished without the expense and hassle of having to make periodic changes to the home to meet a person's ever changing physical needs. You can plan for all stages of your life cycle with some fore thought which, once discovered, you find is just common sense. Even if you are in perfect health you can be disrupted by a minor mishap. A more serious injury can change things forever when you no longer have all your abilities.

     Universal Design principles do not equate to accessibility design even though they both are concerned with ergonomics and human function issues. The ADA guidelines for accessibility were created as a means to help those people with extreme disabilities within our society who are a narrow and specific cross section of the masses. A UD approach broadly takes into account moderate impairments or disabilities, temporary health conditions, and the varying abilities of anyone within a home regardless of their age or size. In other words, an ADA accessible home would be designed for the one person with the disability whereas a UD home is designed for everyone and should be used with any custom tub shower conversion.

     Home accessibility should be a concern no matter what your age. If your concerns are not for you, barring any life changing accident, they could concern the accessibility and safety of another generation's independence. As we age, our society is beginning to realize that our homes need to accommodate future life changes. The aging in place phenomena deals with home modifications to existing homes while a universal design home would hardly ever need to address these abrupt issues even though we cannot solve all the future issues for everyone. Everyone ages differently and has their own list of specific needs.

Universal Design Techniques

     A sensible checklist for a home concerning Universal Design would include but is not limited to:

1. Limiting stairs while avoiding sunken rooms or multi-story floor plans with raised entrances

2. Automating lighting while controlling groups of lighting throughout the home

3. Including natural lighting through doors, windows, and skylights

4. Using multiple shower heads in the shower with rain, conventional and hand held units

5. Incorporate curbless showers into the design of your bathroom for ease of entering no matter if a wheelchair is ever involved

6. When deciding on your faucets, door handles, or cabinet pulls always pass the closed fist test for operation

7. Use nonslip flooring especially in wet areas using cork or smaller floor tiles which in turn increase the grout lines

8. Create a correct kitchen work area with the shortest distance between the stove, sink, and refrigerator as possible

9. Provide accessible lower storage in base cabinets storing the most used items on pull out shelving or in drawers

10. Lower your upper cabinets to 15" above your 34" universal cabinet top

11. Leave at least 42" between your cabinets when 48" is much better

12. Have multiple height cabinet tops to double as work surfaces for those who are seated or other little helpers in the kitchen

Universal design ideas do not strictly deal with accessibility or aging in place design 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 build project is appealing to all users.

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.

CAPS 1636580

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

 

 

 

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Wheelchair Ramp Slope

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Mon, Jun 24, 2019 @ 10:06 AM

DETERMINING SLOPE RATIO

     To determine the slope of your ramp and how much horizontal space it will require, use the following calculation per the ADA guidelines: Multiply the inches your ramp will rise by the slope ratio you desire, and then divide the sum by 12 (to convert the horizontal space you'll need to feet). For example: 31-inch rise x 20 slope ratio = 620. That divided by 12 gives you a 51-foot horizontal projection.

ADA wheelchair ramp guidelines are as follows:

  • The minimum ramp width must be 36 inches minimum but 48 inches is preferable.
  • Ramps must have edge protection to keep anyone from slipping off their surface in the form of a raised outer curb or railing.
  • All wheelchair ramps must have level or flat unobstructed landings at the top and bottom of the rise being overcome that are 60 inches by 60 inches to provide a proper five foot wheelchair turning radius. The landing areas cannot have more than a 30 feet long ramp separating them. If the rise distance requires longer than a 30 foot run to overcome it then a series of landings can be used creating a switchback design.
  • Thirty six inch handrails are required on both sides of all ramps that rise steeper than 6 inches from the ground below.
  • All surfaces must be slip resistant and stable.

     A wheelchair ramp can be permanent, semi-permanent or portable providing wheelchair accessibility. Permanent ramps are designed to be bolted or otherwise attached in place. Semi-permanent ramps rest on top of the ground or concrete pad and are commonly used for the short term. Permanent and semi-permanent ramps are usually of aluminum, concrete or wood. Portable ramps are usually aluminum and typically fold for ease of transport. Portable ramps are primarily intended for home and building use but can also be used with vans to load an unoccupied mobility device or to load an occupied mobility device when both the device and the passenger are easy to handle. Ramps can be constructed from a variety of different materials, though some are better than others and friction is of upmost importance.

     A wheelchair ramp is basically an inclined plane installed in addition to or instead of stairs. Ramps provide wheelchair users or users of other mobility aids as well as people pushing strollers,carts, or other wheeled objects, better access to any building. When designing a wheelchair ramp, you need to consider the users physical limitations. The ramp should be wide enough to be safe and maneuverable and sturdy enough to carry the weight of an electric wheelchair and it's cargo (this can approach 6-700 pounds in many instances) and have a slope that is gradual enough for a manual wheelchair user to navigate. 

Austin Wheelchair Ramp

     The ADA guidelines recommend a slope ratio of 1:16 to 1:20. The Americans with Disabilities Guidelines dictate how ramps are designed for all public places. A noted 1:12 ratio is too steep for some people to navigate using a manual wheelchair. This translates into an 8% slope or grade. These ratios must be followed in all public places; however, there are no rules for residential construction. On a residential basis, the ramps can be customized for the user without having to rely on the ADA averages. The ADA rules become simply guidelines. The publication assists private homeowners to create ramps that are usable, safe and sturdy. Homeowners aren't required to follow these slope guidelines but if you have the available area then less slope is always better.

Home Accessibility Help

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 individuals personal needs. Home modifications can increase safety, accessibility, and independence for people who want to live independently.


Handicap Accessibility

 

 

    Whether your family needs the support now or down the road, universal design features are a good long-term investment for the home itself. Whatever your situation please remember to rely on the experiences of a local building professional.  Check out their credentials and references and don't limit yourself to only price checks against other bidders.  Don't make the mistake of letting a cabinet making subcontractor or tile installer play the part of a general contractor.  Their knowledge will be limited to that of the cabinets or tile and not much else.  More importance needs to be given to the reputable contractor's personality and knowledge and how well you two communicate.  You are making your choice for a professional to lead the way enabling your dream to be realized.  You get what you pay for with proper planning when using an experienced and qualified local contractor. T-Square Company is CAPS certified and can be reached at 512-444-0097 in Austin, Texas.  Find out how a design/build remodeling contractor can save you money during your next project.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

 

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Wheelchair Ramp Specifications

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Tue, Jun 11, 2019 @ 17:06 PM

     A wheelchair ramp is basically an inclined plane installed in addition to or instead of stairs. Ramps provide wheelchair users or users of other mobility aids as well as people pushing strollers,carts, or other wheeled objects, better access to any building. When designing a wheelchair ramp, you need to consider the users physical limitations. The ramp should be wide enough to be safe and maneuverable and sturdy enough to carry the weight of an electric wheelchair and it's cargo (this can approach 6-700 pounds in many instances) and have a slope that is gradual enough for a manual wheelchair user to navigate. Safety is a paramount concern for the user.

wheelchair ramp in Austin

     The ADA guidelines recommend a slope ratio of 1:16 to 1:20. The Americans with Disabilities Guidelines dictate how ramps are designed for all public places. A noted 1:12 ratio is too steep for some people to navigate using a manual wheelchair. This translates into an 8% slope or grade. These ratios must be followed in all public places; however, there are no rules for residential construction. On a residential basis, the ramps can be customized for the user without having to rely on the ADA averages. The ADA rules become simply guidelines. The publication assists private homeowners to create ramps that are usable, safe and sturdy. Homeowners aren't required to follow these slope guidelines but if you have the available area then less slope is always better.

Home Accessibility Help

ADA wheelchair ramp guidelines are as follows:

  • The minimum ramp width must be 36 inches minimum but 48 inches is preferable.
  • Ramps must have edge protection to keep anyone from slipping off their surface in the form of a raised outer curb or railing.
  • All wheelchair ramps must have level or flat unobstructed landings at the top and bottom of the rise being overcome that are 60 inches by 60 inches to provide a proper five foot wheelchair turning radius. The landing areas cannot have more than a 30 feet long ramp separating them. If the rise distance requires longer than a 30 foot run to overcome it then a series of landings can be used creating a switchback design.
  • Thirty six inch handrails are required on both sides of all ramps that rise steeper than 6 inches from the ground below.
  • All surfaces must be slip resistant and stable.

DETERMINING SLOPE RATIO

     To determine the slope of your ramp and how much horizontal space it will require, use the following calculation per the ADA guidelines: Multiply the inches your ramp will rise by the slope ratio you desire, and then divide the sum by 12 (to convert the horizontal space you'll need to feet). For example: 31-inch rise x 20 slope ratio = 620. That divided by 12 gives you a 51-foot horizontal projection.

     A wheelchair ramp can be permanent, semi-permanent or portable. Permanent ramps are designed to be bolted or otherwise attached in place. Semi-permanent ramps rest on top of the ground or concrete pad and are commonly used for the short term. Permanent and semi-permanent ramps are usually of aluminum, concrete or wood. Portable ramps are usually aluminum and typically fold for ease of transport. Portable ramps are primarily intended for home and building use but can also be used with vans to load an unoccupied mobility device or to load an occupied mobility device when both the device and the passenger are easy to handle. Ramps can be constructed from a variety of different materials, though some are better than others and friction is always your friend.

Handicap Accessibility

 

    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 individuals personal needs. Home modifications can increase safety, accessibility, and independence for people who want to live independently.

    Whether your family needs the support now or down the road, universal design features are a good long-term investment for the home itself. Whatever your situation please remember to rely on the experiences of a local building professional.  Check out their credentials and references and don't limit yourself to only price checks against other bidders.  Don't make the mistake of letting a cabinet making subcontractor or tile installer play the part of a general contractor.  Their knowledge will be limited to that of the cabinets or tile and not much else.  More importance needs to be given to the reputable contractor's personality and knowledge and how well you two communicate.  You are making your choice for a professional to lead the way enabling your dream to be realized.  You get what you pay for with proper planning when using an experienced and qualified local contractor. T-Square Company is CAPS certified and can be reached at 512-444-0097 in Austin, Texas.  Find out how a design/build remodeling contractor can save you money during your next project.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

 

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Disabled Bathroom Remodel

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Thu, May 02, 2019 @ 15:05 PM

     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. 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.  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 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.  In fact, there are many benefits to using universal design techniques, including potential use by aging family members, added resale value, and the fact that you'll be creating a space that can be used by anyone who visits your home, regardless of their range of abilities. Simple universal design updates for aging in place home modifications and handicap bathroom accessibility can include adding grab bars or handrails throughout the home, adding a seat within the roll in shower, lowering upper cabinets and counter tops, adding non-slip flooring, widening hallways or installing stair lifts, and widening doors.  You might also consider lowering light switches and thermostats and installing easier to use door knobs.  You should try to provide a clear barrier free path or accessible route to the most visited areas of your home as recommended by the ADA. 

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

Tub To Shower Conversions

     The ADA is the Americans With Disability Act developed in the 1990's to be sure any person with a disability will have equal access to all public facilities and spaces. Unfortunately there are no restricted codes or regulations concerning residential bathrooms or disability access baths. However, these published guidelines for ADA accessibility concerning buildings and facilities is a great resource for ideas on how to make any home safer and easier to live in while aging in place.   Homes can become more accessible through bathroom remodels to people as they age. Many of these published guidelines for wheelchair accessible remodeling, particularly requirements for corridor and door widths, safety bars and proper access to different types of facilities can go a long way in extending the amount of time an elderly or physically impaired individual can live independently. This is the primary basis for ADA remodeling.

    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 individuals personal needs. Home modifications can increase safety, accessibility, and independence for people who want to live independently.

Roll In Showers

Aging In Place Home Modifications

     There are really three categories of aging in place customers.  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. The goal of an accessible bathroom design in Austin 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 in Austin 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.

      Roll in showers without curbs are advised for everyone on a universal level for an accessible bath.  A 5'x5' clear floor space is an optimum size when a caretaker is involved. Using a 32-36"  wide barrier free entrance in a shower partition with an out-swinging door is advised for everyone.  Remember wider is better in all respects. Upon exiting the shower a clear floor space of 30"x48" for approach to the shower should be present and this area intersects with a five feet turning radius within the room. The shower should contain a shower wand on a sliding bar mounted at 48" above the floor to be available for varying heights of use accompanied by a regular height fixed shower head above.  These diverse shower heads are both regulated using a diverting controller valve.  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. Installing fixtures with a scald guard or lowering the temperature at the water heater is a must to prevent burns. Fold down seats attached to the shower wall are useful if caretakers are involved. Recessed shampoo niches are helpful to eliminate clutter on the shower floor.  Secure grab bars installed on wood grounds buried within the wall around the entire shower perimeter at 34-36" above the finished shower floor increases the safety factor and helps to prevent falls.  A recessed can light fixture should be installed above the shower area for proper lighting. All of the bathroom floor surface must be nonskid type to prevent slipping on a guaranteed wet floor. The ultimate goal in accessible design is to make the bathroom space safe for everyone who uses the bathroom. Universal design can better accommodate wheelchair users and can make the bathroom more comfortable for all users and many times can be done without sacrificing style. It is important to carefully plan the building or remodeling for a wheelchair accessible bathroom by taking inventory of the users capabilities and preferences.

      People who are interested in aging in place home improvements are now looking for a level entry into their home along with the maneuverability that a more open floor plan having greater clear unobstructed floor space presents.  They desire flat floors without transitions requiring steps or stairs to move around.  Ramps having a correct 1:12 slope can be used to get them up to the level floor space at the exterior entries or the garage access.  ADA compliant kitchen cabinets and ADA bathroom cabinets will more than likely come into play to complete any accessible home remodeling project.

      Most aging baby boomers prefer one story homes in which to age in place and this has become a primary reason to relocate versus a remodel.  They are looking for an accessible master suite and kitchen located on the same floor.  However, some developments mandate building two story homes.  The above requirement can be easily met by placing the guest bedrooms and accompanying bath upstairs.  If the master suite for any reason needs to be upstairs, closets can be stacked between floors to house a future elevator installation.

Home Accessibility Help

      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 and ADA accessibility in Austin, Texas.  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.

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