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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The Universal Design Laundry

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

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

A Universal Design Laundry in Austin

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

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

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

Principles Of Universal Design

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

Aging In Place Home Modifications

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Universal 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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Universal Design Bedroom

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

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

Universal design/build  project in Austin

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

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

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

Home Accessibility Help    

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Universal Design Garages

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Nov 25, 2020 @ 18:11 PM

The garage is often overlooked when planning an Aging in Place project. A uniquely specified floor plan, special attention in how the house is entered from the garage and adequate lighting for safety encompass a Universal Design in the garage. Wider and higher clearances are required for greater accessibility. Universal Design for garages deals with the garage footprint and the associated maneuvering space around vehicles. The Universal Design garage floor plan includes a wide enough door to accommodate over-sized vehicles. A typical garage measures 22-24 feet in depth and 15-18 feet in width. Potentially accessible van storage changes a current double garage into a single car garage when the wheelchair user is entering or exiting the garage from a side door of the van. A clear five feet turning radius at the loading spot is observed allowing the wheelchair to freely move about. The single vehicle consumes the entire garage space since 15 feet in width is needed for van access on the side. Storage of a second vehicle resumes following the transport and unloading of the wheelchair user. Eighteen feet wide by eight feet tall over-sized garage doors are adequate for most any over-sized vehicle clearance. If rear vehicle ramps are needed for loading or unloading the disabled passenger supplementary space is needed.  The van is backed into the garage for this situation assuring the wheelchair user is underneath a protecting roof.

Universal Design Garage Layout in Austin

A typical garage has a 4 inch tire curb bump protecting the home from water flowing in.  This curb bump requires at least a 4 feet long ramp to overcome the change in elevation. The overall garage space is reduced using this accessibility aid. If the sunken garage has multiple steps, consider a space saving vertical platform lift as opposed to an extended ramp. This ultimately saves precious maneuvering garage space. Universal Design entries into the house require a no step entry through a 36 inch wide door. One major advantage concerning garage entries is they provide total weather protection for a disadvantaged person transitioning into the home heading toward the accessible route. To make entering the home even easier, install an electric door opener operated from a smartphone or keypad. It opens with the touch of a button and the integrated electric strike eliminates the need to fumble for keys. The opener has a built in safety delay allowing a person to pass clear of the door entrance before closing.

If adequate lighting in the garage was never a consideration it must be upgraded per Universal Design concepts. Proper lighting is one of the key components in Universal Design. It will help eliminate tripping and falling. At least one or more additional lights are installed where needed to overcome this problem especially in the direct vicinity of the home entrance door. These additional lights can be controlled by a motion switch causing them to come on automatically when anything enters the garage.  

Principles Of Universal Design    

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Maneuvering In and Around The Accessible Home

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

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

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

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

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

Home Accessibility Help

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Applying Universal Design

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

The goal of Universal Design is to create a living environment allowing as many people as possible to use it without further major adaptations. Simply defined, Universal Design is a human centered method of design seeking to create environments and products offering safety and comfort for all people with no need for further adaptation or functional changes. No one ever enters a well thought out inclusive Universal Design room reporting the room as being accessible. Everyone does mutually agree it is a good idea. Universal Design creates a supportive environment where the home is designed to suit the homeowner’s changing needs from children to adults. Universal Design addresses future accessibility concerns in newer homes and present day remodels when used in the building process.

Universal Design Bathroom Remodel In Austin

A serious accident is not always required to bring to realization the short comings of an inaccessible home. The limitations and demands of an aging body, the needs of a child, or an elderly visitor distinguish this awareness. The earlier in life the elements of Universal Design are used in a home the longer the entire family has to enjoy them. Once disability is recognized and conceived in a way forcing the redesign of the living environment, it never appears abnormal using Universal Design. It appears to most people as a creative aspect of a home. The invisible nature of this design process allows everyone to benefit from its accessibility without calling attention to anyone. Most everyone benefits from Universal Design because if a design works well for the disabled it works better for everyone on a universal basis. It offers flexibility and adaptability for adding universal accessories now and later to those planning ahead or to the end user. It does not matter if a person is young or old, short or tall, healthy or ill. They might have a disability or be a star athlete. With Universal Design ideas, very diverse and different people enjoy the same home no matter the circumstances.

Universal Design features in a home involve the use of standard universal building products and materials arranged differently or completely omitted for accomplishing greater accessibility with fewer architectural barriers. The same building processes are used for both traditional designs and Universal Designs. The difference is in the final overall open plan and layout and the uninterrupted traffic flow potential of the universal home. How successful a Universally Designed home is depends on how occupants and future visitors feel when entering. The universal home is comfortable for children, a visiting older relative, or a friend who is ill or injured. It is more advantageous if people simply change their way of thinking and ultimately the way the homes are built from the beginning. This is the only way of building forever homes for the future. If everyone demands homes capable of aging requiring fewer major and only minor modifications eventually to Age in Place, the home building industry finally satisfies the needs of consumers.

Principles Of Universal Design

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How The Life Cycle Affects Aging in Place

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

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

Accessible Universal Design Bathroom

 

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

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

Principles Of Universal Design

 

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Accessible Home Builder In Austin

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

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

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

Disability Contractors For Special Needs

home accessibility help in Austin, Texas

 

Home Accessibility Help

 

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

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

 

Principles Of Universal Design

 

     Today's conventional building standards conflict with most people's accessibility when you consider our created architectural barriers concerning cabinetry and door opening widths, individual strength, range of motion, movement,  manual dexterity, balance, and coordination. Once the demands of our built environment exceed their capacities we become excluded from a room or even the entire home.  The building world must work in unison to be sure the entire living environment meets basic needs in addition to affordability and structural integrity for the consumer and home owner.  This includes both the home and the components within the home being accessible to all inhabitants.  Privacy, sense of belonging, sense of control, and the sense of safety and security make up the quality of life for any home and should be considered for any design increasing home accessibility.  Contact T-Square Company for a personal assessment at 512-444-0097.  We pride ourselves on helping our customers stay healthy, independent, and safe.

 

Elder Construction

 

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Handicap Bathroom Contractor in Austin

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

 

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

handicap bathroom in Austin

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

     Problems encountered while accessing your home when you are wheelchair bound generally begin before or at the front door.  Given that you can reach the front porch approach without obstruction is a great start.  The stairs leading onto the front porch are yet another matter all together.  A correctly designed ramp having the correct slope can adequately solve this problem.  The use of grab bars and any railings will be dictated by the ramp's design and the regulations involved.   Once your safely upon the porch, your home's front door width can become an issue.  Any entry door less than three feet in width will cause a problem in maintaining a required 32 inch clear entry way that starts the new accessible route within your home.  Once inside the structure a new set of problems concerning your accessibility will be discovered.

Home Accessibility Help

     An accessible bathroom for your convenience becomes the first issue.  The disability access bathroom will be located within the accessible route.  Any barriers encountered while approaching the bathroom entrance will need to be removed.  The minimum clear widths have to be observed.  This will include the bathroom door itself.  Twenty four to twenty eight inch wide doors are commonly used during the construction of American homes for accessing the bathroom and must be widened during a bathroom transformation.  Anything below three feet does not meet the clear 32 inch requirement mentioned above and will need to be altered for clearance of your wheelchair. This work may involve moving light switches.  These alterations should be done by a licensed electrician assuring your safety.

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

The Top Five Items To Include When Considering An Accessible Bathroom Design

1. Vanity Sink Accessibility

Wheelchair Accessible bathrooms today contain stylish ADA vanities set at a universal height of 34 inches with clear knee spaces.  Plan on 27 inches of vertical clearance for a wheelchair. The sink faucets must be easily controlled by either wrist handles or levers. The faucets can be fitted on the side of the sink to make them easier to reach. Or install infra-red faucets that detect motion. Hang the mirror low enough for a seated person to see themselves, and tip the top of the mirror out. Bathroom vanities with universal height cabinet tops and open knee spaces are taking over the marketplace.  These new residential vanities do not need to look institutional.  They can be designed like any other piece of fine furniture. Scalding must be guarded against by using either insulating pipe wrap or a removable panel for the plumbing.

2. Toilet Accessibility

Toilets are available in comfort heights eliminating the deep knee bend needed for seating.  Grab bars should be installed on at least both sides of the toilet. Ideally, the toilet should be positioned between two support bars 36 inches apart. A toilet seat 17 inches off the floor is a more comfortable height for everyone. Creating a toilet within an open area and not a closet is much more accessible. Elevated or special toilet seats are available with a heat feature and some have the ability to self close or have a night light. A more expensive bidet/toilet is available but an add on bidet attachment to a regular toilet can be handy.

3. Bathing Facilities

Curbless roll in showers that are 5 feet wide and 3 feet deep having a 36" clear entrance are advised for everyone.  The shower should contain at least a shower wand on a sliding bar for varying heights of use along with a regular shower head and control if desired.  Installing fixtures with a scald guard or lowering the temperature at the water heater is a must to prevent burns. Folding seats in the shower are useful if caretakers are ever involved and they are much safer than a free standing shower seat which can fall over. Grab bars around the bath and especially in the shower should be used while non slip floor covering should always be considered. Walk in tubs are also a consideration but some people get chilled while the tub is draining. Install the slider bar for the hand held shower hose and head 4 feet off the floor so that the head can slide up to 6 feet high. Always use a shower valve that is thermostatically controlled and pressure-balanced to prevent scalds. If you desire a full body wash, you can include a regular shower head as well.

4. Safety and Accessibility

Always choose fixtures and fittings that are easy to control with a single hand motion or a closed fist. Motion controlled sensor fixtures are also a possibility when specifying finishes. Provide easily accessible storage compartments with pull out shelving eliminating architectural barriers by not using doors on the cabinetry. Always consider the individual needs of the occupant and find the best placement of any reachable items within their reach distance of 24". Fully consider where the best access is for all accessories such as robe hooks, towel bars, paper dispensers, soap dishes, toothbrush holders, shower shelves. The distances and clearances required will be dictated by the user and not by an accepted general outline. With falls in the wet area of the bathroom being such a great concern, a non slip tile floor should be installed without placing loose rugs in the general area. All doors should have levers instead of door knobs. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires a 5-foot turning radius for a wheelchair. But if space is tight, remodelers may be able to make do with less. "(The 5-foor turning radius) may not always be needed, especially with an electric chair, which will easily turn in a tighter space.

5. Lighting

Natural lighting is always better for anyone using the bath. Adequate task lighting in the shower, dressing area, and vanity vicinity should be installed. Lowered switches at around 48" above the floor in reaching distance should control all the lighting. You can install switches with a push button or large toggle that doesn't require a pinching motion to turn on and off. Outlets that are ground protected should be installed at 18" above the floor.

Handicap Accessibility

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

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

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

 

Wheel Accessible Remodeling In Austin, Texas

    Elder Construction

      

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