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

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.

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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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