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

Future Home Building Using Universal Design

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Dec 30, 2020 @ 15:12 PM

The present out of control housing market situation prompted a search for answers solving the question of how to create houses capable of meeting the needs of tomorrow while accommodating future life changes. There is no one size fits all home design because everyone’s life experience is unique to them creating a diverse society with diverse physical needs. Using Universal Design, the wide ranging abilities of the homeowner is a major consideration for all successful inclusive and adaptable designs in homes. The absence of the Universal Design principles entering into all existing home architectural endeavors is perpetuating the lack of accessible housing urgently needed for the lifespan of every homeowner. To increase the acceptance of this design concept by everyone, especially the consumer, Universal Design must become a topic of conversation through knowledge and basic understanding. This depends on the members of the broadest populations’ acknowledgement of the need for the use of this practical idea.

Universal Design Kitchen in Austin

Universal Design plays a significant role in the future accessibility of all home designs. Homeowners must base design decisions on the seven (or eight) principles of Universal Design. Deciding which universal features to include in future forever homes is the most alluring question. Each principle is very useful in itself. The more principles involved in the design process, the greater the adaptable outcome of the home. After all, the smart forward thinking homes of the future depict long term sustainable assets for life allowing Aging in Place to seamlessly follow as people age and evolve. It is true Universal Design emerged out of the accessible and adaptive architectural movement; however, it constantly attempts to combine aesthetics with basic core values for every user. While moving us toward an accessible future, appearing invisible, Universal Design recognizes peoples’ bodies, needs, and lifestyles constantly change along a continuum due to the aging process. Universal Design acknowledges too that everyone ages differently as individuals. One person’s disability type is not experienced like another’s. It is better to live in a more open and comfortable Universal Design home with the flexibility of evolving with the homeowner rather than one which at some uncertain time becomes an impasse during the homeowner’s lifetime.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

Embracing Universal Design with its many values and advantages for all people during timely remodeling projects or while building a new home is needed if society is ever going to escape the inaccessible cookie cutter homes of today. Additionally, this design technique offers a win-win solution helping solve problems encountered by multi-generational households. The multi-generational homes of today create the greatest personal accessibility challenges for all the generations involved. The application of Universal Design principles is desperately needed to sustain the choice of living environments for these diversified families. Universal Design homes have the unique ability of simultaneously accommodating strollers, walkers, or wheelchairs within the home without regard to a person’s size, age, or abilities. Furthermore, these homes contain lasting value if the owner ever decides to sell appealing to all society groups. To the uninformed, the folklore associated with Universal Design has stigmatized the process in home building today. This has much to do with why such a unique building concept is not greeted with open arms by the consumer. Beliefs like, it costs more, it takes up too much space, it will make my home have less resale value, it will look institutional, or only a few people could benefit from it represent a select few.

While Universal Design sounds appealing in conversations, it is rare to actually witness it in the built environment. The Universal Design movement recognizes its slow acceptance hinges on historic ties related to being a disability solution. This way of thinking causes implications for consumers and the world of home design presenting a huge misconception. Universal Design never distanced itself from the need for increased accessibility during the disability movement of the 80’s and therefore is mired in ADA jargon producing an indelible unfocused brand. As an inclusive design, Universal Design pertains to overcoming the barriers and stereotypes associated with its terminology in order to stand out as the next and final trend in future housing. Universal Design has no limits for the varying groups of people it helps. Every family member is included when using this design methodology whether they are abled or disabled, short or tall, young or old. With education, people understand Universal Design is the most revolutionary element in housing design today. Once realized how the principles of Universal Design affect everyone in the quest for maximum inclusion, consumers might start paying better attention to this logical building concept. Future home dwellers are fortunate in having this transitional and adaptable design concept in their vocabulary. Possibly they distinguish the designs flexibility as the gateway for tomorrow homes built and designed for everyone at every age. Only then, when people grasp the importance of Universal Design, does it become an everyday building term and a much needed household solution. No longer are personal desires for Aging in Place creating total disruption during life’s waning years. It is successfully accomplished seamlessly following the accessibility offered by Universal Design.

Principles Of Universal Design

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Universal Kitchen Design

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Dec 16, 2020 @ 12:12 PM

A Universal Design approach to kitchen conception takes into account people’s varying degrees of ability and disability rather than someone is either fully-functional or disabled. The diversity among the users of the kitchen includes size, age and agility. The kitchen represents the family hub, and for the designated cook of the day, it is where many hours are spent caring for the family. A Universally Designed kitchen supports the diversity of all cooks, users, and helpers. With the additional cooks like granny or the kids, the kitchen no longer adequately accommodates everyone’s participation and changes need to be made. This is especially noticeable once families decide to help each other and become multi-generational. Enlarged work spaces, larger passing areas, accessible work surfaces, storage within universal reach distances, accessible appliances, and flexible and layered lighting are a few of the inclusive changes for the kitchen. A cohesive blend of universal functionality for the abled and disabled with conventional convenience aspects for other family members is the goal guaranteeing a successful and accessible Universal Design kitchen for any home.

Universal Design Kitchen in Austin

Homes with wheelchair accessible kitchens representing a by-product of Universal Design are a predictable necessity for the ever aging population. With the right layout, it is possible to make a home for maintaining the quality of life of the homeowners with disabilities while helping them live a more healthy, safe, and independent life. Kitchens with architectural barrier free layouts are more functional for everyone involved especially when mobility devices are required. Universal Design techniques give everyone a chance for equal independence. These very basic techniques provide adaptations or specialized designs regardless of age, ability, or situation. 

In Universal Design kitchens, the work areas containing the sink and cook top have the capability of moving up and down with the touch of a button further accommodating the seated user or a helpful child. Cleaning is easier because of the adjustable height work and storage areas.  When planning a Universal Design kitchen for anyone, every aspect of the space is considered from the cabinet height to the accessibility of appliances, to the space between cabinets and walls or islands. The principles of Universal Design call for the space to be functional and accessible for everyone in the household. This includes older homeowners with mobility or sight issues, as well as younger members of the family.

ADA Kitchen Cabinetry

Layout and flow is especially considered when planning a Universal Design kitchen space. To promote functionality for all occupants, it is vital to consider every aspect of the design including doors, traffic patterns, and workstations. The universally designed accessible kitchen is one of usability.  People need roll under capability at the sink and at least one food prep area if nowhere else. A clear floor space of 30 x 48 inches is provided in front of each accessible appliance and these areas of approach can overlap especially at the clear 5 foot turning radius. Raised dishwashers offer easier access to dishes and lowered microwaves and other appliances solve other reach distance problems making it easier to live with a disability. 

Increase Your Accessibility

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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.

Harper VA 010

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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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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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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Handicap Bathroom Vanity In Austin

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Thu, Sep 12, 2019 @ 15:09 PM

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

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

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

Home Accessibility Help

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

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

Handicap bathroom vanity in Austin

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

Fine Cabinetry

ADA Bathroom Cabinets

     Finding a contractor familiar with the guidelines of accessibility can be quite difficult. Be sure to check out the credentials of any potential bidders you contact.  Be sure they understand that the alterations you are seeking are for wheel chair accessible home remodeling and modifications.  Furthermore be sure this person knows and practices both the federal and most importantly your state's requirements before entering into any contract.

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

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

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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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Handicap Bathroom Remodel

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Fri, Sep 06, 2019 @ 16:09 PM

 

    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.  A handicap bathroom remodel is not age related but becomes a major aspect concerning remodeling for seniors.

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 surely 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 but these are only to be used as a reference.  At this point every individual has their own set of needs according to their disabilities.

handicap bathroom remodel in Austin

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 design is mostly used for homeowners who require home modifications to allow them to remain in their home safely and comfortably as they age while their physical abilities change over time. Universal design is a much broader term covering the design of products and environments that are usable by all members of the household, from the youngest to the oldest, to the largest extent possible, without the need for further alterations, adaptations, or specialized design.  Universal Design provides a pathway to seamlessly age in place.  It is truly thinking ahead when it comes to accommodating the living environment for better home access.

     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 (CAPS) offering complete aging in place services.  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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Home Remodeling Austin, Texas

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Thu, Aug 29, 2019 @ 16:08 PM

     When it finally becomes apparent  that your existing home no longer fits the needs of your family,  it's time to reach out for professional help.  Whether you're looking for a local residential remodeling contractor in Austin, Texas to accomplish a kitchen remodel or a construction professional to complete an entire gutting and remodel of your entire home including a home office transformation,  the final accenting finishes most likely will include the use of fine cabinetry. The choice between frameless European and Northern face frame cabinetry styles will highlight practically any design.   Choosing the correct wood species can further add to the richness of the job.  Then there are those needed additions for a growing or multi-generational families that must blend with your home without being noticed.

Principles Of Universal Design

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

Kitchen Remodeling

      To begin with, kitchen upgrades and bathroom remodels return the most money at resale on the initial investment of the remodeling project.  National averages show that kitchen remodels recoup around 70% of the costs of the upgrade at the time of resale of the home.  However, your kitchen remodeling costs should never exceed 15% of the total value of your home.  Here is where you need to get your thinking cap on and plan for an affordable budget that is within your means.  Your material choices are very important and if you need to stay mid-level to fit the budget then do so.  The labor involved for the project will be around 1.6 times the cost of the materials used.  The total budget should allow $100 per square foot for your kitchen upgrade project.

     Any kitchen remodel will need to produce a better service or work triangle between the sink, refrigerator, and stove placement.  The shorter the sum of the triangle legs the more efficient the layout but islands can also be incorporated into the design to increase the efficiency.  The prep sink within the island can become it's own focal point of the work triangle displacing the duties of the main kitchen sink.  The orientation of the island toward the work triangle is very important making sure traffic can still flow freely within the designated triangle. Islands can contain all sorts of special storage areas.  Mixer lifts, produce storage drawers, wine storage, and dough board pullouts are just a few of the many useful aspects that can be incorporated into the island.

      Living with a dysfunctional bathroom layout reduces the total feeling of relaxation your master bath is capable of providing.   During those much deserved private moments you long for your bathroom's surroundings to provide both luxury and function.  There isn't adequate lighting for the many daily personal duties like applying makeup.   There needs to be adequate ventilation so you don't always feel as though you are housed in a "sweat box" while getting dressed. The outdated plate mirror extending from your vanity top's splash upward toward the drywall furrdown above has never been a design you thank the world of. You have always disliked that box above housing the poorly illuminating fluorescent tube lamps that are concealed by the yellowing plastic diffusing panel.  You are sick and tired of the poor storage facilities inherited when you purchased your home.  The height of the vanity is out of line according to your needs and it is also inadequate for your storage needs.  The existing cabinet layout contains unusable drawers beginning to come off their tracks and the cabinet doors have their own particular issues.  Your cabinets are either too deep to access what they contain or their storage capabilities have been limited by their total improper design.  What were those guys thinking?  What's more the out of fashion ceramic tiles are either partly missing or they are totally the wrong color for the day along with the colors within the rest of the room.  Having improperly working plumbing fixtures that are now also antiquated with their own set of problems is yet another quandary within itself.  The fixtures themselves can also be finished in a color that is long out of style.  So what do you do?
Handicap Home Modifications

     It is well past time to undergo a fine bathroom upgrade and makeover.  Bathroom remodeling can either be a pain or a pleasant experience according to the participants involved.  Bathroom remodeling in Austin, Texas like most other cities includes many of the same aspects.  Be sure to choose a qualified residential construction contractor whose personality and qualifications are agreeable with you personally.  You are about to undertake a very important short term relationship in your life with someone you may know by reputation only.  The relationship needs to be comfortable and free flowing thus enabling the contractor's creativity level to be at it's highest during your remodeling project. Look at it as a partnership between your needs and the remodeling contractor's abilities.  His professional remodeling experience will include his capacity to identify many construction limitations and hazards.   These variables underlie the major pitfalls that can be avoided while making a bathroom remodeling design come into reality.  His experience can also aid you in accomplishing bathroom upgrades that include disability issues.  Accessibility is what the project is about anyway.  The job needs to flow between the various trades involved to produce a better final outcome.  This too is a reflection on his remodeling experience for which there is no substitute.

     Bathroom plumbing fixture choices are numerous to say the least.  Select reputable companies offering the best warranties especially when considering finishes used on control valve trims and the fixtures installed in the project.   Larger walk in shower designs should have seamless fiberglass liners to avoid leaks if the house ever shifts.  Using natural stone or glass tiles while additionally designing in glass blocks will certainly be an upgrade. 

     Colors for bathrooms today are natural and earthy creating a calming effect.  Accents of color reflected from the tiles, paint, fixtures, and woodwork are used to make things a little more interesting compared to the room's overall vanilla tones within your design.  Help is just a phone call away but be sure the one who answers has the qualified experience you need for completing your new bathroom transformation.

Bathroom Remodels

Home Remodeling In Austin

home remodeling Austin, Texas

 

     T-Square Company is a local General Contracting firm and builder with over 35 years of experience.  Our design/build services can show you how to make your dreams come true in a seamless manner.  Call us at 512-444-0097 today to find out how we can make your living environment better for you and your family.  We are CAPS certified to help our clients with special needs.

 

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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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