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

Who Do You Hire for an Aging in Place Project?

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Mon, Mar 29, 2021 @ 15:03 PM

The biggest and most important challenge for any homeowner wanting to increase accessibility using Universal Design to Age in Place is qualifying a chosen builder or remodeler. Consumers must verify the tradesman or professional has both the experience and knowledge for understanding any requirements used to increase the client’s safety and accessibility within the home. This is the only variable a homeowner controls in the building process. You are about to give a complete stranger your trust in a very serious matter of which you most likely know little about beyond articles read on the internet or hearsay. All professionals selected must be knowledgeable and experienced concerning Universal Design projects. The relevant personnel having job input concerning the client consist of architects, designers, builders, remodelers, and any therapists or extended healthcare workers who are involved with any household occupant requiring home modifications. I have witnessed clients who are completely overwhelmed and frustrated when interviewing several groups of building professionals including subcontractors with overlapping scopes of work. They become confused by the large amount of information gathered. Be advised that too many cooks in the kitchen can spoil a successful job outcome. CAPS certified accessibility specialists are trained to be better capable of helping with both the design and construction phases of the project. Most CAPS members have had coursework in Universal Design. However, you would not choose a recent law graduate over an experienced defense attorney to represent you in a serious matter. Even though both people have law degrees, there is only one path to choose. The remodeling business is no exception. All CAPS certified professionals are not equal. Some come from different professional backgrounds other than construction while others have not used their acquired knowledge long enough to make a difference. Ask about their experience and how long they have practiced Aging in Place remodeling. A well-seasoned contractor has seen what issues frequently come up in making improvements for Aging in Place and knows which methods he or she has used to overcome certain problematic areas of the home.

Aging in Place remodeling in Austin

The aging societal changes and inventory of inaccessible existing houses created the need for a CAPS certification program. This designation program, offered through the National Association of Home Builders, NAHB, in collaboration with The American Association of Retired Persons or AARP, incorporates components of assessment, technical knowledge and management skills related to home modifications used to help people stay at home safely and independently for a longer period of time. The program was developed in 2001. The CAPS program connects responsible professionals with home owners needing specialized accessibility services on an ever increasing basis. Ordinary homeowners with extraordinary challenges partner up with experienced CAPS professionals and their own families. Working as a team, the 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. Aging in Place services provided by a specialized remodeling contractor ensures all accessibility issues of the home are accomplished correctly. The CAPS credential is a nationwide initiative and many construction and design professionals are taking advantage of the helpful training across the nation. Always check his or her credentials to verify the remodeler holds an active CAPS certification and is familiar with Universal Design. All registered CAPS program graduates and remodeling companies are listed in a national registry in Washington DC. The information is found by calling 1-800-368-5242 or by simply visiting their website at: http:www.nahb.org/en/learn/designations/certified-aging-in-place-specialist.aspx.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

Experienced CAPS certified remodelers have the knowledge, expertise and sensitivity to provide modifications for making a home safer, more accessible, and better suited to the client’s required needs. A professional CAPS certified builder or remodeler is able to correctly assess the costs associated with an accessible design and lead the homeowner in the right direction adhering to the available budget costs to accomplish the modifications needed. Home modifications, accessibility products, and barrier free design greatly promote the independence and functional ability of physically challenged and aging individuals. Designing around specific physical conditions for accessibility lessens the impact of arthritis, restricted mobility, or loss of vision by using combinations of products, concepts, and techniques available today. Keep in mind when hiring a Certified Aging in Place Specialist they offer a service rather than a product. Each CAPS member draws from a different knowledge base, and approaches each project in a distinct way.

T-Square Company in Austin, Texas is a CAPS certified remodeler and offers design/build Aging in Place projects using principles of Universal Design. Call 512-444-0097 to discuss your project today and learn how you can achieve better accessibility within your existing home.

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The Universal Design Laundry

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Dec 23, 2020 @ 13:12 PM

     Like in the garage of the home, the laundry is often overlooked when planning a Universal Design setting to Age in Place. The washer and dryer are separate units arranged side by side. If stacking, the upper drying unit is not accessible for a seated user. They are front loading machines not top loading models. This arrangement allows the user to look directly into either machine while accomplishing their duties. One problem concerning these appliances is like that of the dishwasher. If they are sitting directly on the floor, a seated person does not have a direct line of sight inside to see the garments. To solve this problem, just like the dishwasher, the machines are raised placing them upon a platform or pedestal. Many manufacturers offer matching pedestals around twelve inches tall. The advantage of using the matching pedestals is they often include a drawer unit for storing items.

A Universal Design Laundry in Austin

When configuring the Universal Design laundry room, provide a clear five foot turning radius directly in front of the washer and dryer for approaching both machines. If the laundry room is large enough, a 30 x 48 inch approach area is associated with the machines as with all appliances. This configuration is also used if the machines are in a closet. A useful detail for either situation is to have machines provided with opposite swing doors both opening from the middle. This way a person is between the machines with access to both for sorting clothes at the same time. Otherwise one machine door becomes an architectural barrier for anyone in a wheelchair.

A larger laundry room has both natural and layered lighting. A window is so important in the heat gaining laundry for additional ventilation during certain times of the year and providing natural light for working. Along with an AC duct, install a vented exhaust fan in the laundry decreasing humidity as it becomes a problem. As with any Aging in Place designs, well-lit rooms are much easier to work in for everyone. Additional task lighting is installed wherever needed like underneath wall cabinets.

To gain entrance to the laundry room, a minimum 36” door coming off the accessible route is required. A five foot clear turning radius in the middle of the room offers clear approaches to the sink, machines, ironing and hanging facilities. Pocket or barn doors are a great choice for a laundry entrance requiring no planning for their swing or the space needed when they are opened. Laundry activities are loud at times so plan for deadening them with the door choice. The laundry room needs ample room in order to approach and maneuver. Accessible and adequate storage is a major consideration. Just like in the kitchen, a laundry sink has roll under capability for a wheelchair user. The sink has an associated 30 x 48 inch clear area in front for approach in the layout. The faucet is an easily operated accessible pull out model and the cabinet top is installed at a universal 34 inch height. Here again, multiple height cabinet tops work well in different areas of the room. Additional cabinets and adjustable shelving are placed as space permits using universal heights and reach distances. A fold down clothes folding shelf is great as needed with roll under capability. When not in use it is folded away against the wall gaining back the original floor space.

Principles Of Universal Design

Racks and shelving are installed for hanging and sorting clothes. Keep in mind the 48 inch reach limit for a seated person. Ironing clothes is a usual chore with the laundry but ironing boards are always in the way no matter where they are assembled. To solve this problem, install an adjustable fold up model which is also rolled under. When not in use the ironing board is stored in the accompanying wall cabinet regaining the floor space. These ironing board units are available with a separate electrical outlet inside for the iron preventing running extension cords creating trip hazards. There are also folding ironing board drawer units which are installed in a base cabinet or below a work top. The drawback with these units is the lack of flexibility since they are installed at a fixed location and height.

Aging In Place Home Modifications

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Universal Design Bedroom

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Dec 09, 2020 @ 12:12 PM

Accessible bedrooms are important for people with or without disabilities and for anyone planning to Age in Place. A functional accessible bedroom involves basic Universal Design principles to accommodate future needs. This endeavor ensures access to everyone regardless of their age, abilities, or size. Using Universal Design in the bedroom guarantees everything is easy to see, in reach, and most importantly, easy to approach. Going from the bathroom to the bedroom involves the shortest distance allowed without turns if possible. Traveling from the accessible bedroom through a 36 inch wide door provides access into the designated accessible bathroom. The size of the targeted bedroom dictates the furniture layout. Determine the best furniture placement allowing a clear five foot turning radius inside the bedroom.

Universal design/build  project in Austin

Arrange furniture producing a clear unobstructed 36 inch wide path and prevent clutter. Visualize moving around in the bedroom while approaching the closet utilizing a 30 x 48 inch clear space overlapping with the turning radius area. Always avoid clutter using too much furniture causing interference and trip hazards.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

The closet and dressing area are part of the bedroom. When feasible, open shelf and drawer storage for non-hanging items provide the greatest accessibility in the closet. Built in pull out shelves and drawers are installed below the 48 inch rod/shelf location for specific storage. Fixed shelves or a pull down rod is installed as a storage solution above the 48 inch rod/shelf. Clothes carousels and automated shoe storage units provide further options for the closet. Automated shoe storage units provide an option to regular stationary shoe storage providing greater storage capacity. In any good Universal Design bedroom the lighting, color finishes, and flooring are specified correctly ensuring increased safety and ease of use concerning everyone using the bedroom. The end result is functional and beautiful as well as spacious creating a feeling of openness.  

Home Accessibility Help    

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Maneuvering In and Around The Accessible Home

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Nov 18, 2020 @ 17:11 PM

The number one safety hazard for elderly or disabled people of any age is negotiating level changes both outside and within the home--steps at the entry, stairs between floors, curbs to step over when entering the bath or shower, and being able to access patios, decks, and terraces. When Universal Design is correctly incorporated into a home’s layout, these flexible houses accommodate the needs of their owners and their visitors even as those needs evolve over time. Barrier free homes are functional and comfortable as well as accessible to everyone.

Visitability or the lack thereof begins at the curb for every home. This term refers to how easy it is for all people coming by to pay a visit or stay with the homeowner regardless of their physical abilities. Occupants and visitors are capable of entering an accessible bathroom located on the same floor representing the visitability of the home. Ideally, the entry into the house is through a 36 inch wide door having an ADA threshold to create a no step entry.  Entrance is obtained using an easily graspable lever style lock.

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The accessible entrance is a great place to begin an accessible route for most homes. Once inside the structure a new set of problems concerning accessibility are discovered along the extended accessible route if the entire first floor is not on one single level. The designated accessible route continues into all of the most used rooms increasing accessibility. All swinging doors are minimally 36 inches wide using Universal Design along the accessible route producing a clear 32 inch wide opening when the door is opened to ninety degrees. Sliding, pocket, and bi-fold doors require less operating approach space because the door is better contained along the wall in which it is mounted.

With increasing age or following a temporary health setback, simply maneuvering around inside the home is increasingly more difficult. This designated route includes a 5 x 5 foot clear turning space required for wheelchairs in the main living area, kitchen, the bedroom, and one bathroom. The selection, placement, and design of doors and doorways influence a wide range of people. The location of the doorways affects furniture placement and usable space within the associated room. This in turn affects the clear floor space and usability of the living environment for someone confined to a wheelchair utilizing the accessible route.

Home Accessibility Help

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Aging in Place versus Universal Design

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Nov 04, 2020 @ 15:11 PM

The Universal Design concept is not as age driven as the Aging in Place issue. Universal Design addresses the design of all new and existing homes. Aging in Place exclusively concerns architectural changes made to existing homes through remodeling. Both are specific design techniques used to make a home safer and more comfortable for individuals of different abilities but are applied at different times during a homeowner’s lifespan. Each concept offers increased accessibility and usability to homeowners. Universal Design is one of inclusion benefiting the whole family. It is performed at any time in preparation for the family’s future. The process concerns children, parents, and grandparents making it of paramount importance in multi-generational homes. Aging in Place addresses coping with health conditions in an existing home for the person the home modifications are done for. It takes into account the principles of Universal Design. Aging in Place occurs abruptly when no previous alterations or revisions were ever accomplished for increasing future accessibility.

Home Accessibility Help

Universal Design Entrance in Austin

There is a distinct physical difference between the two methods once they are applied. Universal Design benefits from proactive planning producing permanent and long lasting modifications. For instance, Aging in Place design includes installing an aluminum ramp for accessing a stepped front porch for entering the front door. Using Universal Design a gradually sloping concrete sidewalk approach is installed to overcome the same steps to the front porch. The Universal Design process blends into the home and is not noticeable. The much faster and more frugal accessibility changes for Aging in Place deal directly with the homeowner’s or someone else within the family’s environmental needs. Universal Design, however, offers gradual choices through proactive planning to all of a home's residents no matter their age or physical capabilities concerning the future. Universal Design represents a paradigm transformation in how new homes or remodels are designed and built providing greater adaptability to everyone. The understanding, recognition, and use of Universal Design define the metamorphosis in future home building. The majority of consumers no longer accept track home builders offering inaccessible A, B, or C floor plans. A well thought out universal home design makes a difference in how well it accommodates the needs of all occupants and visitors throughout time. By adopting the Universal Design concept, consumers limit or reduce the need for further adaptations later to homes while beginning to Age in Place.

Aging In Place Home Modifications

 

 

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The Basics Of Aging In Place

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Oct 28, 2020 @ 14:10 PM

Along with the exponential birth rate of the baby boomers in the late 40’s and 50’s, the need for more housing created sprawling American suburbs to accommodate the growing families. Developments sprang up with few architectural options while affordability was the main concern. Today, these same homes slowly and increasingly signify outdated and obsolete architectural barriers exposing a true lack of accessibility for the very people inhabiting them. The situation is ever more expanding in time because the greatest majority of individuals want to age where they currently reside. This basic desire is creating unprecedented nationwide challenges and a niche market in the remodeling industry known as Aging in Place. The majority of Americans over the age of 45 want to continue living in an environment they are well acquainted with throughout the maturing years. Everyone is living longer only to experience many life challenging events during an extended lifespan.

Aging In Place Remodel in Austin

According to the AARP, 80 percent of older home owners overwhelmingly prefer to Age in Place, which means living in a home safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age or ability level. People with disabilities are aging but healthy individuals are aging into a disability. Aging in Place strictly deals with the remodeling of existing homes. Therefore, to Age in Place, owners need to modify their home as they mature increasing access and safety using Universal Design before a life changing event forces making sudden architectural changes. The Aging in Place market in the U.S. today is influenced by the increasing size of the aging population, the market desire to remain in one's home, a constantly increasing cultural diversity, and the aging housing stock associated with reduced affordability. The desire to remain in existing homes is driven by social attachments via a network of neighbors, friends, and family. Comfortable positive aging is a way of living rather than a state of being.  The three main areas needing improvement for a person wanting to Age in Place is the bathroom, the kitchen, and the family area in that order.

Clearly the act of Aging in Place occurs during a period of time when seniors have the ability to make decisions to better support quality of life. There are three segments served within the Aging in Place marketplace. The first segment includes those homeowners without urgent needs. The second segment focuses on a group of homeowners with progressive health condition needs. The third sector involves those people who have undergone traumatic health changes or accidental injuries necessitating immediate modifications to the home. The choice to Age in Place does not mean the homeowner has to do everything in the future by themselves. Aging in Place principles support responsible people living life with dignity and independence even when outside assistance is essential.

Download Our Free Aging In Place Remodeling Considerations Checklist

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How The Life Cycle Affects Aging in Place

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Oct 21, 2020 @ 10:10 AM

It is very evident the current home inventory lacks the ability of accommodating more than a third of the consumers inhabiting them. Traditional home builders never considered the accessibility issues affecting mobility for the homeowner or visitor. Consumers have allowed the built environment to mandate the inhabitant’s capabilities for far too long. In 2020, all the 76 million baby boomers reach the age of 55 or older at a time when many people are planning for retirement. This perpetual problem, brought on by years of endless supply and demand, is finally being acknowledged by our ever aging population. Traditional home builders never considered the accessibility issues affecting mobility for the homeowner or visitor. Once any disability occurs to the homeowner or family member regardless of age, size, or ability, including a broken limb, the same home endeared for at least part of a lifetime becomes a prison presenting unforeseen barriers, frustrations, and perils at every turn. This situation is not age related but is a function of life experience. Because consumers have allowed the built environment to mandate the inhabitant’s capabilities for far too long, the only way people are capable of remaining in the home is through home modifications. Home modifications using the concept of Universal Design ensures all people at every stage of life and ability benefit from an inclusive surrounding living environment. Universally, any family living with a disability among any of its generations benefits from additional accessibility. The early application of Universal Design concepts within the home offer practical solutions to cope with future unforeseen problems experienced at any time throughout life.

Accessible Universal Design Bathroom

 

Disease is not necessarily a part of aging. Genetics and more commonly the environment dictate when disease is expressed. The five senses are burdened by age as a result of cellular degeneration constantly altering the way the world is perceived. This ongoing aging process begins at birth. How rapidly it occurs is defined by an individual’s personal makeup. Encountering problems with memory, agility, taste, hearing, smell, or vision during the aging process alters the way the living environment is perceived and conforms to the needs of any homeowner. This situation holds true for a younger adult suffering from a debilitating disease or returning to health following an accident. The scenario is once again verified for a teenager or a young child experiencing a life changing accident or illness. Hence, every member of society is included in the lack of home accessibility.

While the usual aging process affects daily activities at an increasing level over time, the early application of Universal Design concepts within the home offer practical solutions to deal with future unforeseen problems experienced at any time in life. The home is smartly prepared in advance to Age in Place and avoids drastic architectural changes due to a sudden physical need. This universal proactive design approach ensures the home does not contribute negatively to the adverse effects brought on by disability at any age allowing homeowners to seamlessly Age in Place.

Principles Of Universal Design

 

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Disability Renovation Services In Austin, Texas

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Mon, Jan 06, 2020 @ 10:01 AM

     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. Some of our societal statistics that weigh into aging in place situations include reports stating that 19% of the population between the ages of 16 and 64 and 42% of those of us 65 and over have a physical disability affecting the activities of their daily lives.  For a progressive condition,  aging in place home remodeling in Austin definitely comes into play.  This is the only way to insure both the safety and mobility for the homeowner or family member requiring the home modifications.  The two main groups driving elder construction and the aging in place market are those people who are 65 and over and the baby boomers.  The first group is projected to reach 55 million in 2020.  The baby boomer generation born between 1946 and 1965 today make up 28% of the U.S.  population and are made up of some 77 million people.  Modifications of existing homes is important because people of age 50 and older want to remain in their current home for as long as possible.  Aging in place home modifications in Austin should only be done by a CAPS certified remodeling company.  This is the only way that you can be assured that the home modifications are the right choices to satisfy your needs.  There is no need to waste money only to find out that the wrong alterations were done by an inexperienced and unqualified remodeling company.  Always check their credentials to verify that the remodeler holds a CAPS certification. All registered CAPS program graduates and their remodeling company will be listed in a national registry in Washington.  The information can be found by simply visiting nahb.org/CAPS.

     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.

Austin Handicap Remodeling

Austin Tub To Shower Conversion

Tub To Shower Conversions

    If you have been considering a fine bathroom makeover with better accessibility or an accessible kitchen remodeling project in Austin there are a few things you should take into consideration.  Bathroom upgrades in Austin, Texas can take on many looks and facets.  The scope of work you choose to accomplish this task should effectively solve your problems and most importantly, your needs as the home owner-- for now and for the future.  The identification of these specific needs belongs to you the home owner.  The way your home is structurally altered to help with special needs is the job of the professional remodeling contractor holding a CAPS certification.  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 of another generation's independence is using the restroom.  CAPS professionals in the remodeling industry can help with solutions in solving these issues while performing design/build home modifications.

Principles Of Universal Design

    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 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.  We are able to offer complete services concerning disability renovations beginning with our design/build philosophy.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

    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.  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 and at any age. An evolution of new products used in room modifications making homes more accessible has come about in the remodeling industry.  These new advances in home remodeling not only keep the living environments safer but will not compromise the home's aesthetics or resale value.  Interior modifications can include adding grab bars or handrails throughout the home, lowering upper cabinets and countertops, 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.  The published guidelines for ADA accessibility for buildings and facilities is a great resource for ideas on how to make a home safer and easier to live in.   Homes can become more accessible to people as they age. Many of these published guidelines, 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.

   

Aging In Place Home Modifications

     Whether you desire a roll in shower, accessible sink , or merely a clear and unobstructed access to your existing bath, a CAPS professional can help you increase your accessibility.  The CAPS certification holder can not only help you with the design of what you desire but is competent and professionally qualified to carry out any construction needed. Certainly there are many upgrades available when planning a bathroom transformation.  The replacement of the tub with a new walk in shower can create a bold  look but will run around $14,000.  There are no spending limits for bathroom remodels.  You can plan on spending around $12,000 to $15,000 for a hall bath remodel.  The price tag can approach or exceed $35,000 for a complete master bath remodel.  The type of fixtures and building components chosen along with the labor will compose the overall cost of the remodeling project. These prices are based on long lasting home modifications requiring time to install using proper construction techniques and are not to be confused with pop in kits offered by others they claim will be accomplished in a couple of days.

      It is true that a trained CAPS professional and remodeling contractor with years of experience will cost you more than a handyman illegally playing among the trades at your peril but then again there are those professional guarantees to  consider.  The professional verses the handyman is more likely to seek your overall satisfaction that will follow him into his next job.  A true building professional can also orchestrate the job's smooth flow limiting the down time of a most useful room.  Subcontractors will not be covered up and each skilled  trade is brought onto the sight as needed in an orderly fashion.  Professionals normally have insurance to cover on the job accidents to protect the homeowners from having legal action brought against them personally.  Be sure you ask for a certificate of insurance from your chosen professional contractor so that you aren't held personally liable for medical expenses covering a worker's accident while on your property.  Don't forget that only a certified aging in place (CAPS) professional can help you solve your accessibility needs and concerns.  The aging in place considerations specifically used in homes today where the owner is planning to retire is all a part of training and experience.

Home Accessibility Help

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Accessible Home Builder In Austin

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Thu, Oct 24, 2019 @ 13:10 PM

     An accessible home refers to the construction or modification of housing to enable independent living for disabled people. Usability or accessibility is accomplished through universal design techniques and proper planning around the homeowner's personal abilities. There is no "one size fits all" for an accessible home design when considering the many types of disabilities.  Furthermore, no one disability is experienced the same by everyone. Once inside the home, accessibility can be further enhanced by using adaptable and universal products, components, and finishes. The slightest change found in an accessible design can make the greatest difference for a homeowner living with a disability.

     T- Square Company located at 14141 Highway 290 West, Suite 800 in Austin, Texas is an industry leading accessible, universal, certified Aging in Place and VA approved Specially Adapted Housing accessible home builder and remodeler. We offer design/build projects for both totally accessible homes from the ground up and complete handicap modifications for existing homes to age in place. Traditional home builders and remodelers do not consider or understand the needs of the disabled or elderly. They deal mainly with the two thirds of our society without disabilities. They do not have the knowledge or experience required to think out of the box when creating a special needs home. It requires an educated accessible home builder and contractor to realize special needs for special people. T-Square Company will design and build you an adapted living environment which is completely customized toward your abilities. Whether your project concerns home modifications, an accessible addition or wing, or new construction using handicap accessible floor plans generated around the client so we can help you increase your accessibility. We are CAPS certified (1636580) and have over three decades of building and remodeling experience practicing as a disability contractor for special needs. We want to help our clients be as self sufficient and independent as possible. Let us show you how to increase the safety and accessibility within your personal living environment.

Disability Contractors For Special Needs

home accessibility help in Austin, Texas

 

Home Accessibility Help

 

    Handicap accessible floor plans or designs can include level no step entries, single level designs, smart home features, wider hallways and doorways, adequate maneuvering space for a wheelchair turning radius throughout the home, non-slip flooring, ramps to overcome level changes, residential elevators, clear unobstructed walkways, special area lighting, accessible closets and storage, roll out or pull out shelving, easy grab door hardware and electric door openers, automatic and graspable faucets, full extension drawers, accessible switches and outlets, automated controls, roll in showers, ADA roll under vanities, counter tops, and work spaces, accessible kitchen designs, accessible appliances, and many other specialty features designed around the homeowner's abilities and needs. Basically the rooms in an accessible home are more spacious while the amount of architectural barriers within the home is decreased. Accessibility is very important in the bathroom, kitchen, and the most visited living areas of the home.

     Architects and designers with the help of CAPS professionals have been revising design basics in the recent past, creating design principles and strategies that accommodate the full range of human capability. This field of flexible or inclusive design is called Universal Design and its goal is to create easily accessible living and working spaces. Instead of appearing as a hospital extension, the designs are appealing and stylish and comfortable for everyone, not just the severely disabled among us. The world of boundaries and barricades is beginning to lessen and catch on nationwide one home at a time. This is a testament to the disabled population demanding equal access as the ADA rules which came about in 1990. Unfortunately the ADA rules do not apply to the residential market and disabled homeowners need to depend on the knowledgeable CAPS certified private sector of builders and remodelers.  Every home should be accessible to all inhabitants and their visitors regardless of their age, size, or physical abilities.  Caring for someone with special needs is a unique and sometimes lifelong challenge. Whether it’s a child born with a disability, someone who has suffered an unfortunate accident or medical event causing them to lose abilities they once had, or an older family member in declining health needing assistance with daily life, the work of a special needs contractor can help make things easier for both the affected individual and their caregivers.

 

Principles Of Universal Design

 

     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 increasing home accessibility.  Contact T-Square Company for a personal assessment at 512-444-0097.  We pride ourselves on helping our customers stay healthy, independent, and safe.

 

Elder Construction

 

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Handicap Bathroom Contractor in Austin

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Mon, Sep 30, 2019 @ 11:09 AM

 

    Life happens and your present way of going about it includes newly discovered physical barriers which were never an issue before.  You've lost your mobility and are now forced to rely on a wheelchair for assistance at least for the present time.  The maneuvering of familiar areas within your home you'd always taken for granted are now presenting barriers that are limiting your new means of mobility.  Clear openings of 32" or greater, elevation changes steeper than 1:12, and being able to have access to all your home's facilities have been affected springing forth handicap remodeling.  The removal of these home grown barriers that now disrupt your accessible route for handicap bathrooms in Austin, Texas needs to be done by a qualified building professional holding a CAPS certificate.  Any ADA remodeling should comply with both ADA and local building code standards along with the TDLR guidelines.

handicap bathroom in Austin

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

     Problems encountered while accessing your home when you are wheelchair bound generally begin before or at the front door.  Given that you can reach the front porch approach without obstruction is a great start.  The stairs leading onto the front porch are yet another matter all together.  A correctly designed ramp having the correct 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 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 that starts the new accessible route within your home.  Once inside the structure a new set of problems concerning your accessibility will be discovered.

Home Accessibility Help

     An accessible bathroom for your convenience becomes the first issue.  The disability access bathroom will be located within the accessible route.  Any 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 and must be widened during a bathroom transformation.  Anything below three feet does not meet the clear 32 inch requirement mentioned above and will need to be altered for clearance of your wheelchair. This work may involve moving light switches.  These alterations should be done by a licensed electrician assuring your safety.

     Once inside the accessible bathroom you should try to maintain a five foot turning radius for your wheelchair if at all possible. You will need to have your plumbing facilities brought into compliance to enable your freedom and safety.  Bathroom modifications for the disabled involve the use of grab bars within the tub or shower and around the toilet which can be very helpful insuring your safety for maneuverability.  These should be installed at 34 inches above the finished floor to safeguard your use of them.  Having roll under capability for the new 34" high ADA compliant vanity can be very helpful while you are in the wheelchair.  Exact clearances should be complied with underneath the vanity.  The proper safety equipment should be installed on the plumbing pipes that don't allow scalding of your legs. The toilet may need to be replaced providing a comfort level height for easier access.  The handicap bath or roll in shower may need to be altered to become only a shower with roll in or possibly transfer capabilities. Roll in showers are always easier to deal with than handicap baths having walk in ability. However, these tubs are not for everyone especially those with dementia so do your homework before buying such an expensive addition to your bathroom.   All of these changes must be done along the  ADA guidelines for your safety.

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

     The referenced door situation above will be true for any room in the house if you are to enter them barrier free.  The kitchen, your bedroom, and any other rooms you require accessibility to enter could be affected.  Even the closet door within your bedroom will need to be wide enough so that you can manage getting your clothes to dress.  Any other bedrooms that you may need to enter with your wheelchair will need alterations.

     The accessible kitchen is another story altogether.  You will at least need the roll under capability as mentioned above at the sink.  Upper kitchen cabinet heights may become an issue if you still plan to do meal preparations.  No matter what you end up doing, make sure to hire an experienced building professional who understand the ADA guidelines for your well being.

     Aging in place home modifications are available through T-Square Company in the Austin area. We have an A plus rating with the local BBB and have over 30 years of remodeling experience. We are additionally a certified aging in place specialist offering complete aging in place services.  We offer complete handicap floor plans generated with you, the client, in mind. Each design/build situation will be customized to fit your personal needs increasing your accessibility. Call 512-444-0097 today to begin the accessible second chapter of your life while remaining safe and secure in your existing home. CAPS #1636580

 

Wheel Accessible Remodeling In Austin, Texas

    Elder Construction

      

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