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

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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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 Accessible Toilet

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

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

Handicap Home Modifications In Austin

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

Handicap Accessibility

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

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

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

Home Accessibility Help

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ADA Compliant Grab Bars

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

     No matter how old you are you should periodically evaluate your residence to determine whether it suits you not just for the present but the future. Your home assessments will be rethought every time your living situation changes. Whether childproofing for a newborn, making a home more accessible following a sickness or unfortunate accident to someone in the family, or making a toilet area safer for an aging residing parent, there will be an immediate evolution to your primary domicile. These same life span design features are even more important if you believe you're past the age of wanting to move and are relishing the thought of aging in your own home, no matter what physical limitations you might later develop. Incorporating smart aging design concepts into a home will attract a larger group of buyers when you decide to finally sell your home.

ADA Compliant Bathroom In Austin

     When mobility becomes an issue for any homeowner, regardless of age, the question arises concerning physically moving to a different home with a bath that is more accessible or making the existing home modifications which will meet the need of the new life changes.Solving aging in place issues will soon become the number one challenge concerning the present obsolete housing inventory in our country. Our present day obsolete homes now inhabited by the baby boomer generation will slowly and increasingly raise their outdated and obsolete ugly heads and expose their true lack of kitchen or bathroom accessibility to those very people inhabiting them. The situation will only become ever more expanding in time. When these homes were previously purchased, they represented an absolute castle in the world of their owners in which to prepare for a day and they also acted as a retreat from life's tough interactions. They housed our families, our memories, and our stuff. They represented a place where we could be ourselves. Our homes have always been exempt from any and all of the accessibility regulations that have been put in place since 1968 when our Viet Nam veterans were returning home. The new evolving concept known as Universal Design and specialized handicap remodeling contractors for home remodeling is catching on nationwide and has been for several years as a sign of the times. Universal design techniques used in building makes a home more accessible to all regardless of their mobility or adaptive abilities.

     Many people find themselves needing accessible homes for themselves or family members. There are approximately 30 million Americans using wheelchairs and the number of people who need accessible homes will continue to increase as disabled and aging people are finding more ways to remain living in their homes. One important way to increase independent living is making a home accessible to an individual’s personal needs. Home modifications making homes wheelchair accessible can increase safety, accessibility, and independence for people who want to live independently.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

     Falls and slips are among the most common causes of injury to senior or elderly people and for those with a disability. Smooth surfaces in combination with wet areas make the bathroom one of the most dangerous areas within the home. It is of paramount importance that the bathroom be updated providing safety for any person with limited mobility or the elderly. Grab bar installation will greatly improve safety and usability of the bathroom.

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

Handicap Accessibility

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

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ADA Vanity Height

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

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

ADA Vanity In Austin

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

Home Accessibility Help

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

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

     Bathroom vanities with universal height cabinet tops and open knee spaces are taking over the marketplace. These new residential vanities do not need to look institutional even though they are wheelchair accessible. They can be designed like any other piece of fine furniture. Scalding must be guarded against by using either insulating pipe wrap or a removable panel for the plumbing.

ADA Bathroom Cabinets

 

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Accessible Toilets

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

     Many people find themselves needing accessible homes for themselves or family members. There are approximately 30 million Americans using wheelchairs and the number of people who need accessible homes will continue to increase as disabled and aging people are finding more ways to remain living in their homes. One important way to increase independent living is making a home accessible to an individual’s personal needs. Home modifications making homes wheelchair accessible can increase safety, accessibility, and independence for people who want to live independently.

Accessible toilet in Austin

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

Home Accessibility Help

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

Handicap Home Modifications

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

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Veterans Home Remodeling In Austin, Texas

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Mon, Feb 11, 2019 @ 14:02 PM

     The concept of the accessible home has evolved beyond the basic grab bars and ramps to one in which accessibility is built into the basic design.  Universal design makes living in a home easier for people of all ages and abilities.  Accessible can be both beautiful and functional and never needs to have any institutional appearance.  As our aging baby boomer population ages, the need for accessibility in the home is becoming ever more important.  Our new way of viewing the basic home in our society and our antiquated architecture is giving way to a revolution in home design.  Ordinary homeowners with extraordinary challenges can partner up with CAPS design professionals, architects, and their own families to create homes to restore capabilities, independence, and grace to daily living. 

roll in shower in Austin

Principles Of Universal Design

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

     Everyone ages differently and has different needs and wants.  The factors that constitute the aging in place market for all individuals are based on a persons genetic makeup, their lifestyle including the choices they have made while living their life, and their environment.  These factors have brought about the need for universal design.  This is the design of products, services, and environments that are usable by as many people as possible regardless of age, ability, or situation without the need for adaptation or specialized alterations.  It provides for the greatest safety and access for any home guests or occupants and is undetectable when done well.  Since so very few homes share the accessibility offered by universal design, to satisfy the needs of a particular household member brought about by an accident, an illness, or simply the aging process there will always be a need for customized accessibility features.  This will be accomplished by a CAPS accredited remodeling professional producing a truly functional design when considering accessible home designs in Austin, Texas.   T-Square Company is a competent home remodeling company who understands and practices aging in place home modifications and Elder construction in Austin. We are CAPS certified and will perform the work needed to fit the in house design insuring your safety and accessibility. T-Square Company specializes in accessible bathrooms in Austin, Texas.

     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 bring about the need for remodeling for disabilities.  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.

     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.

Download Our Free Aging In Place Remodeling Considerations Checklist

     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 this 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.

Home Accessibility Help

     Accessible wheelchair designs in Austin are available through T-Square Company. Each design/build situation will be customized to fit your personal needs. Call 512-444-0097 today to begin your accessible second chapter in your life while remaining safe and secure in your existing home. CAPS 1636580 We are a certified contractor with the VA for our veterans.  We understand the process for securing a VA grant and conforming to the SAH program guidelines.

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Austin Handicap Bathroom Contractor

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Tue, Nov 13, 2018 @ 17:11 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.

Austin Handicap Bathroom

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.  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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Applying Principles Of Universal Design In Austin

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Tue, Jul 24, 2018 @ 15:07 PM

     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. Some universal design/build ideas just make good sense. Once you bring them into your home, you'll wonder how you ever lived without them.

Universal Design In Austin

    Can you envision building a house as a young adult that you can live in comfortably while you age no matter what your basic physical needs require? This evolving home will contain wide doorways and hallways that can accommodate both a stroller and a wheelchair or walker. There will be a wide open feeling throughout the house's main living areas in the bathroom, kitchen, and living area that do not restrict moving about. Your universally designed home has the capability to age with you and should not need further modifications to accommodate future life changes for any of it's family members. This universal designed home is barrier free without looking modified and is accessible to everyone no matter of their age, size, or capability of movement. This home will be accessible to everyone from your father to your son. People's personal needs vary with age and the Universal Design of products, services, and environments provide adaptations for aging in place to everyone regardless of their age, ability, or situation. Universal Design becomes invisible when incorporated into a home remodel and is only present when help with accessibility is needed. Furthermore, an appealing universal design project creates a greater resale potential. Aging in place construction drastically provides immediate accessibility while universal design techniques provide for gradual changes for accessibility now and when needed in the future. Both Universal Design and Aging In Place building concepts are not age related but each has to do with the dwelling we choose to live in for as long as possible and the extent of modifications that will be needed to accomplish this life choice.

Increase Your Accessibility

    Universal Design isn’t just for the elderly or the permanently disabled. As Americans age, they’re beginning to realize that their homes need to adapt for future life needs. Consumers are more cognizant today of the benefits of a universally designed home, but they may not realize it can be beautiful as well as functional. Everyone can use universal design! It doesn't matter if you are young or old. You could be short or tall, healthy or ill. You might have a disability or you may be a star athlete. Because of universal design ideas, people who are very different can all enjoy the same home. And that home will be there for all its inhabitants even when their needs evolve. The need for Aging In Place home modifications or remodeling later can be lessened from the time of first moving into the home if living areas are planned using common sense and forethought.

     Universal Design does not strictly deal with accessibility and does not implement precise ADA standards but it does offer flexibility to add accessories now and later to those planning ahead or to the end user. It also provides for a wide range of human performance characteristics for the way people use spaces within their homes including well integrated usability features. These adaptations have a broad market appeal to everyone for achieving ease of use, safety, and convenience accommodating a certain reality. That reality is that all people exist along a continuum of human performance as per their personal traits and characteristics regardless of their age. A universal approach to design takes into account that everyone has varying degrees of ability and disability rather than someone is either fully-functional or disabled. A universal design is appealing to all users.

Accessible Homes Of Austin

     There are seven criteria which must be met to be considered a universal design no matter which area of the home you are referring to. Any design must be equally useful to everyone, have flexibility in it's usefulness, be simple and intuitive, be perceived by everyone, have a tolerance for error, require little physical effort, and it must maintain an adequate area for approach and use. Any complexity or discriminating attribute to a design will doom it in terms of  being considered universal in nature.

     Let's face it, an accessible home is 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 a 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. 

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.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

CAPS 1636580

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