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

7 Principles of Universal Design

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, May 23, 2018 @ 15:05 PM

     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.

Principles Of Universal Design

     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. However what better way can you improve on a home's total visitability? Universal Design principles involve 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.

roll in shower

     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. There will be blocking behind the finished walls to accommodate secure grab bar installations or the towel racks in the kitchen can double as grab bars as you become unsteady from lack of balance. All the entryways from the front door to the shower entrance are smooth to prevent tripping from high thresholds. All doors and faucets will be controlled by lever hardware. 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.

      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.

     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 through universal design build ideas throughout a home will attract a larger group of buyers when you decide to finally sell your home. Everyone has special needs and there is no one size fits all solutions using universal design. A twenty five year old homeowner with a bad back is really not similar in needs to his or her aging eighty year old grandmother, although they both need added accessibility only in different but similar ways.

     The National Association of Home Builders, in partnership with the AARP and Home Innovation Research Labs, created the CAPS program, which includes training and education on the technical, business management and customer service skills essential to compete in the fastest growing segment of the residential remodeling industry--home modifications for aging in place.  David L. Traut, CAPS owner of T-Square Company in Austin, Texas is one of the select group of professionals nationwide to earn the Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) designation, identifying him as a home remodeler and builder with the skills and knowledge necessary to remodel or modify a home to meet the unique needs of the older population, disabled owners, or their visitors.  We offer and incorporate universal design in all our remodeling projects to limit the expense and hassle of periodically adapting your home to your ever changing needs.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

      For additional information about the CAPS program, visit nahb.org/CAPS.  For more information about T-Square Company, visit www.tsquareco.com or call 512-444-0097.

 

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Austin Outdoor Kitchens

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Fri, Feb 23, 2018 @ 15:02 PM

     While planning an Austin outdoor kitchen space, you'll need to think about how many people you intend to accommodate given size of the area you plan to include. What are your entertaining needs you plan on furnishing in your new outside space? Identify your budget. The next step is to determine the best location for your kitchen, the size requirements, design layout designating certain areas for certain functions, counter top placement and arrangement, and the appliances and amenities you require. Don't isolate the cook away from the rest of the party. Finally, you must choose the best materials and equipment for accomplishing all your goals that will endure the outside elements because more than likely they will be built into a fixed size placement.

Austin Outdoor Kitchens

     An outdoor kitchen is an excellent way to equip your backyard for entertaining and feeding hungry friends and family. Our Austin climate gives us the flexibility of expanding our living areas into the outdoors. Outdoor kitchens range from small prefab areas with little more than a built in BBQ grill to large, fully equipped custom kitchens complete with one or more grills, extended counter tops, sinks, bars, pizza ovens, and storage cabinets. A fully equipped outdoor kitchen can be a big investment, but one that is sure to add lasting value to your Austin home. Plan for utilities. When planning for an Austin outdoor kitchen design layout, keep in mind the best practical placement or installation of the necessary gas, water and electrical supply. Add music and other entertainment remembering that TV screens are burned out by sunlight making them hard to see. Extend the outdoor entertaining season with heaters, shade and rain shelter. Incorporate shade trees, pergolas and awnings in cooking and dining areas, but don't put a combustible ceiling or awning above an outdoor grill.

     Your Austin outdoor kitchen concept should include designated free flowing zones for food prep, cooking, dining, and socializing. Apply good kitchen design principles for functional zones of the kitchen. Cold areas for refrigeration, hot areas for cooking, wet areas for sinks, and dry areas for food prep. The shape of your outdoor kitchen layout will depend on the location of your new outdoor kitchen to the proximity of your home. Traffic pattern and flow will determine most first steps when designing an outdoor kitchen while galley, C, and U shapes come to mind. Detached areas as in around pools or yard settings give you greater flexibility with your design as it has the capability to expand into your surroundings. More extensive outdoor kitchen designs will usually include side burners, searing areas, flat tops, and warming drawers to name a few amenities but most of these items will require precious additional space or totally designated areas. Provide adequate task lighting as well as ambient lighting to accommodate evening after dark cooking and entertaining.

     Compliment your home's architecture and landscape with your outdoor kitchen design. Mix in some of the stone or brick that is on your home. If a cover is included you can make it look like the rest of your home or totally stand out like a gazebo. The rear wall of your kitchen will surely need to match your home at least on the outside elevation. The inside wall can be covered in anything you desire from tile, stone, metal or any other noncombustible components that are available. The counter top should withstand your climate conditions. Fortunately in Austin we can use tile in our designs because of decreased frosts but solid surfaces are better at being more bacteriastatic. Quartz sheet goods, solid surface materials, and UV resistant cultured granite are excellent choices for the top. Any use of natural stone like granite, onyx, or limestone will require sealing of the top at a higher rate than suggested because it is located outside.

     Plan the entire outdoor entertaining space as part of a single functional plan. Know the choices for equipment and materials by doing your homework and be sure your choices are within your budget. Contact T-Square Company at 512-444-0097 for further information.

 

Tags: outdoor kitchen Austin, Austin outdoor kitchen, Austin outdoor kitchens, Outdoor kitchens in Austin, Austin outdoor kitchen designs, Austin decks and patios

Austin Decks And Patios

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Fri, Feb 23, 2018 @ 13:02 PM

     The best vacation spot can sometimes be in your very own backyard. Since interior space is always at a premium, a homeowner can make the most of their backyard effectively doubling their living space. A great deck design can capture a view, create a comfortable outdoor room, and add a feeling of spaciousness to your home by blurring the boundaries between inside and out. You are simply extending your conditioned living space into the outdoors. A partly sheltered deck serves as an indoor-outdoor space possibly connecting a family room with a patio. Classically simple, a custom deck design can create a great transitional element for nearly any style of house. A deck at the top of a sloping backyard can transform a space into an inviting destination for taking in a view.

Austin deck and patio

     Today's decks are no longer basic rectangles attached to the back of the house. Rather, they integrate seamlessly with the house, landscape, and yard. Many factors will influence the design of your deck, such as the architectural style of your house, contours of your property, restrictions imposed by setbacks and codes, and location of major landscaping features. Whatever your needs, balance them against the budgetary bottom line. Remember to keep your form and function planning in touch with your financial situation. Overruns might increase project costs by as much as 30 percent, depending on unforeseen circumstances. Be open to that reality, and control costs by staying true to the original scope of the project.

     When a roadblock presents itself, turn it into an opportunity to compromise and stay within your budget. For example; if built-in seating crosses the budget line, opt for weatherproof wicker seating that can be moved, rearranged, and updated easily.

     What about including shading or weather protection for your deck? Open pergolas and three sided cabanas seem to be the answer without utilizing an addition to your home. By definition, a pergola has some sort of a roof, but the openness of it varies based on needs and wants. A narrowly constructed open series of pergola "ceiling" pieces gives more shade, as do inserts, either across the whole overhead area or in a pattern. Every pergola should relate in some way to the other structures in the yard. That might mean use of a color, material, or particular design detail -- for example, a sloping roof or a brick base -- that matches something elsewhere, either in landscaping, hardscaping, or on other structures. Style is another element that should be repeated to maintain cohesiveness. A very traditional home calls for a similarly built pergola, while a more casual cottage home might require a less formal pergola. If the pergola is roofed then the addition of a cupola will help with air flow and ventilation.

     The use of details should extend to the pergola's columns. Pergolas generally rest on two or four vertical members for support and structure. Sometimes those columns are simple beams; other columns might have more decorative elements, such as brick, trim, or paint. 

     Builtin outdoor bench seating can provide plenty of seating for outdoor entertaining. Built around a railing post they contribute to the structure's clean, angular sensibility, and the linear slats quickly disperse rain. The benches can run long along the deck sides or be corner units. Simply add the colored cushions if desired and you're all set.

     Before settling on a design, take time to brainstorm ideas for how you want to use your new deck. Consider which features will be most important for your needs, as well as other items on your wish list. Does your active family constantly occupy the backyard? Or are you just looking for a peaceful spot to relax with a morning coffee? Will you throw large, festive parties, or small family gatherings? A dining area makes sense if you often eat and entertain outside, and perhaps an outdoor kitchen, fireplace, or portable gas heaters will be essential for extending time outdoors into the cooler months. As you plan, keep in mind which conveniences will be appropriate. Electrical outlets, for example, make it easy to add or move outdoor lighting, hook up a sound system, or power a laptop or tablet. Once you have a list of desired features, rank them. Prioritizing your dream deck objectives can help during the budget process.

Austin Decks And Patios

Tags: outdoor kitchen Austin, Austin outdoor kitchen, Austin outdoor kitchens, Outdoor kitchens in Austin, Austin outdoor kitchen designs, Austin decks and patios, Austin deck builders, Austin deck designs, Austin deck ideas

Outdoor Kitchen Austin

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Thu, Feb 22, 2018 @ 16:02 PM

     While planning an Austin outdoor kitchen space, you'll need to think about how many people you intend to accommodate given size of the area you plan to include. What are your entertaining needs you plan on furnishing in your new outside space? Identify your budget. The next step is to determine the best location for your kitchen, the size requirements, design layout designating certain areas for certain functions, counter top placement and arrangement, and the appliances and amenities you require. Don't isolate the cook away from the rest of the party. Finally, you must choose the best materials and equipment for accomplishing all your goals that will endure the outside elements because more than likely they will be built into a fixed size placement.

Austin Outdoor Kitchen

     An outdoor kitchen is an excellent way to equip your backyard for entertaining and feeding hungry friends and family. Our Austin climate gives us the flexibility of expanding our living areas into the outdoors. Outdoor kitchens range from small prefab areas with little more than a built in BBQ grill to large, fully equipped custom kitchens complete with one or more grills, extended counter tops, sinks, bars, pizza ovens, and storage cabinets. A fully equipped outdoor kitchen can be a big investment, but one that is sure to add lasting value to your Austin home. Plan for utilities. When planning layouts, keep in mind the best practical placement or installation of the necessary gas, water and electrical supply. Add music and other entertainment remembering that TV screens are burned out by sunlight making them hard to see. Extend the outdoor entertaining season with heaters, shade and rain shelter. Incorporate shade trees, pergolas and awnings in cooking and dining areas, but don't put a combustible ceiling or awning above an outdoor grill.

     Your Austin outdoor kitchen concept should include designated free flowing zones for food prep, cooking, dining, and socializing. Apply good kitchen design principles for functional zones of the kitchen. Cold areas for refrigeration, hot areas for cooking, wet areas for sinks, and dry areas for food prep. The shape of your outdoor kitchen layout will depend on the location of your new outdoor kitchen to the proximity of your home. Traffic pattern and flow will determine most first steps when designing an outdoor kitchen while galley, C, and U shapes come to mind. Detached areas as in around pools or yard settings give you greater flexibility with your design as it has the capability to expand into your surroundings. More extensive outdoor kitchen designs will usually include side burners, searing areas, flat tops, and warming drawers to name a few amenities but most of these items will require precious additional space or totally designated areas. Provide adequate task lighting as well as ambient lighting to accommodate evening after dark cooking and entertaining.

     Compliment your home's architecture and landscape with your outdoor kitchen design. Mix in some of the stone or brick that is on your home. If a cover is included you can make it look like the rest of your home or totally stand out like a gazebo. The rear wall of your kitchen will surely need to match your home at least on the outside elevation. The inside wall can be covered in anything you desire from tile, stone, metal or any other noncombustible components that are available. The counter top should withstand your climate conditions. Fortunately in Austin we can use tile in our designs because of decreased frosts but solid surfaces are better at being more bacteriastatic. Quartz sheet goods, solid surface materials, and UV resistant cultured granite are excellent choices for the top. Any use of natural stone like granite, onyx, or limestone will require sealing of the top at a higher rate than suggested because it is located outside.

     Plan the entire outdoor entertaining space as part of a single functional plan. Know the choices for equipment and materials by doing your homework and be sure your choices are within your budget. Contact T-Square Company at 512-444-0097 for further information.

 

Tags: outdoor kitchen Austin, Austin outdoor kitchen, Austin outdoor kitchens, Outdoor kitchens in Austin, Austin outdoor kitchen designs, Austin decks and patios