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

Pointers for Seniors To Age In Their Homes/Austin Aging in Place

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Apr 27, 2022 @ 11:04 AM

Everyone is living longer only to experience many life-challenging events during an extended lifespan.The desire to remain in your current home is not driven by age. This need is a reaction to and the result of life's experience. Any family living with a disability among any of its family members will always benefit from familiar surroundings. To increase safety and independence within your current home, certain modifications to increase accessibility and use are typically required. These modifications include but are not limited to wider doorways, the installation of ramps, inclusive kitchen modifications, accessible bathroom modifications, and the application of smooth, non-skid flooring. When planning on what modifications are needed, always make a list of the home's most problematic areas for any or all of its residents. This basic desire is creating unprecedented nationwide challenges and a niche market in the remodeling industry known as Aging in Place. The majority of Americans over the age of 45 want to continue living in an environment they are well acquainted with throughout their maturing years. These people are looking for safety, security, ease of use, and comfort for their forever home before they must vacate due to specialized needs. 

Aging In Place Home Modifications

But where did this commonly seen lack of home accessibility in nearly all homes come from? Perpetual, status quo building techniques, and affordability provide the answers. Over time, along with the exponential birth rate of the baby boomers in the late 40s and 50s, the need for more housing created sprawling American suburbs to accommodate the growing families. Developments sprang up with few architectural options while affordability was the main concern. Today, these same homes slowly and increasingly signify outdated and obsolete architectural barriers exposing a true lack of accessibility for the very people inhabiting them. The situation is ever more expanding in time since the greatest majority of individuals want to age where they currently reside. 

Aging In Place Remodel in Austin

According to the AARP, 80 percent of older homeowners overwhelmingly prefer to Age in Place, which means living in a home safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age or ability level. People with disabilities are aging but healthy individuals are aging into a disability. Aging in Place strictly deals with the remodeling of existing homes. Therefore, to Age in Place, owners need to gradually modify their homes as they mature increasing access and safety using the principles of Universal Design before a life-changing event forces making sudden architectural changes. The Aging in Place market in the U.S. today is influenced by the increasing size of the aging population, the market desire to remain in one's home, a constantly increasing cultural diversity, and the aging housing stock associated with reduced affordability. The desire to remain in existing homes is driven by social attachments via a network of neighbors, friends, and family. Comfortable positive aging is a way of living rather than a state of being.  What's more, seniors who took a proactive approach in modifying their homes over time offer peace of mind to their loved ones who know their family members are living safely and independently in their homes. 

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

Clearly, the act of Aging in Place occurs during a period of time when mature homeowners or seniors have the ability to make decisions to better support an increased quality of life. There are three segments served within the Aging in Place marketplace. The first segment includes those homeowners without urgent needs. The second segment focuses on a group of homeowners with progressive health needs. The third sector involves those people who have undergone traumatic health changes or accidental injuries necessitating immediate modifications to the home. The choice to Age in Place does not mean the homeowner has to do everything in the future by themselves. Aging in Place principles supports responsible people living life with dignity and independence even when outside assistance is essential.

T-Square Company is one of Austin's premier Aging in Place contractors offering complete Aging in Place services from home assessments to design/builds. We have over 30 years of accessibility knowledge to share with our clients making their home life less complicated. We hold a nationally recognized CAPS certification (Certified Aging in Place Specialist) offered by the National Association of Home Builders, NAHB. Contact T-Square Company today to find out how to proceed toward an accessible second chapter of your life while remaining at home. We offer complete Aging in Place design services.

Download Our Free Aging In Place Remodeling Considerations Checklist

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Disability Remodeling Services/Austin, Texas

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Thu, Feb 24, 2022 @ 13:02 PM

Preparing for one of those highly likely events involving someone in your home needing room modifications for even a short time while recovering from surgery is surely a smart move. The new evolving concept known as Universal Design for home remodeling is catching on nationwide and has been for several years as a sign of the times. Universal design techniques used in a building make a home more accessible to all regardless of their mobility or adaptive abilities and at any age. An evolution of new products used in room modifications making homes more accessible has come about in the remodeling industry. These new advances in home remodeling not only keep the living environments safer but will not compromise the home's aesthetics or resale value.  Interior modifications can include adding grab bars or handrails throughout the home, lowering upper cabinets and countertops, adding non-slip flooring, widening hallways, installing stairlifts, designing and building accessible bathrooms, and widening doors. You might also consider lowering light switches and thermostats and installing easier-to-use door levers. You should try to provide a clear barrier-free path or accessible route to the most visited areas of your home. The published guidelines for ADA accessibility for buildings and facilities are a great resource for ideas on how to make a home safer and easier to live in. Homes can become more accessible to people as they age. Many of these published ADA guidelines, particularly requirements for corridor and door widths, safety bars, and proper access to different types of facilities can go a long way in extending the amount of time an elderly or physically impaired individual can live independently.

If you have been considering a bathroom renovation with better accessibility or an accessible kitchen remodeling project in Austin there are a few things you should take into consideration.  Accessible bathroom upgrades can take on many looks and facets.  The scope of work you choose to accomplish this task should effectively solve your physical challenges and most importantly, your needs as the homeowner-- for now and for the future. The identification of these specific needs belongs to you the homeowner.  The way your home is structurally altered to help with special needs is the job of the professional remodeling contractor holding a CAPS certification.  A thorough assessment by a Certified Aging in Place professional will identify your home's architectural barriers and what is required to remove them. Accessibility should be a concern no matter what your age.  If your concerns are not for you,  barring any life-changing accident, they could concern the accessibility of another generation's independence in using the restroom.  CAPS professionals in the remodeling industry can help with solutions in solving these issues while performing design/build home modifications.

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 evolve 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 our daily lives.  For a progressive condition,  aging in place home remodeling in Austin definitely comes into play.  This is the only way to ensure both the safety and mobility for the homeowner or family member requiring the home modifications.  The two main groups driving elder construction and the aging in place market are those people who are 65 and over and the baby boomers.  The first group is projected to reach 55 million in 2020.  The baby boomer generation born between 1946 and 1965 today make up 28% of the U.S.  population and are made up of some 77 million people.  Modifications of existing homes are important because people age 50 and older want to remain in their current homes 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 companies will be listed in a national registry in Washington.  The information can be found by simply visiting nahb.org/CAPS.

Austin Handicap Remodeling

 

ADA Kitchen Cabinetry

 

Conquer A Tub To Shower Conversion

 

Wheelchair accessible ADA kitchen


Discover the Principles Of Universal Design

The National Association of Home Builders, in partnership with the AARP and Home Innovation Research Labs, created the CAPS program, which includes training and education on the technical, business management, and customer service skills essential to compete in the fastest-growing segment of the residential remodeling industry--home modifications for aging in place.  David L. Traut, CAPS the owner of T-Square Company in Austin, Texas is one of the select group of professionals nationwide to earn the Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) designation, identifying him as a home remodeler and builder with the skills and knowledge necessary to remodel or modify a home to meet the unique needs of the older population, disabled owners, or their visitors. T-Square Company offers complete disabled home modifications in Austin using our design/build philosophy. We have over 35 years of accessibility experience in the commercial and private market sectors. We specialize in disability remodeling projects for our special needs clients.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

What are some of the costs involved? Whether you desire a roll-in shower, accessible sink, or merely clear and unobstructed access to your existing bath, a CAPS professional can help you increase your accessibility. The professional national CAPS certification holder can not only help you with the design of what you desire but is competent and professionally qualified to carry out any construction needed. Certainly, there are many upgrades available when planning a bathroom transformation. The replacement of the tub with a new walk-in shower can create a bold look but will run around $14,000.  There are no spending limits for bathroom remodels. You can plan on spending around $12,000 to $15,000 for a hall bath remodel. The price tag can approach or exceed $35,000 for a complete master bath remodel. The type of fixtures and building components chosen along with the labor will compose the overall cost of the remodeling project. These prices are based on long-lasting home modifications requiring time to install using proper construction techniques. T-Square Company's design/builds are not to be confused with pop-in kits offered by others claiming they will be accomplished in a couple of days.

Aging In Place Home Modifications

It is true that a trained CAPS professional and remodeling contractor with years of experience will cost you more than a handyman illegally playing among the trades at your peril but then again there are those professional guarantees to consider.  The professional versus the handyman is more likely to seek your overall satisfaction that will follow him into his next job.  A true building professional can also orchestrate the job's smooth flow limiting the downtime of a most useful room.  Subcontractors will not be covered up and each skilled trade is brought onto the site as needed in an orderly fashion.  Professionals normally have insurance to cover on-the-job accidents to protect the homeowners from having legal action brought against them personally.  Be sure you ask for a certificate of insurance from your chosen professional contractor so that you aren't held personally liable for medical expenses covering a worker's accident while on your property.  Don't forget that only certified aging in place (CAPS) professionals can help you solve your accessibility needs and concerns.  The aging-in-place considerations specifically used in homes today where the owner is planning to retire are all a part of training and experience. Call T-Square Company today at 512-444-0097 and discover how precise home modifications will offer you extended comfort, safety, and independence within your existing home. 

Home Accessibility Help

 

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Age in Place At Home/Home Accessibility Help

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Jan 19, 2022 @ 12:01 PM

AIPSTUD cover4-1

Everyone planning to remain in their home to Age in Place is looking for safety, security, ease of use, and comfort. Homeowners and families must plan for future housing needs. The current housing inventory does not offer the features needed for safety and accessibility in the numbers required to accommodate the growing demand. They have weighed the costs of institutional living compared to their home’s expenses. They also realize the difference in adhering to stringent rules in a facility instead of independently and freely residing in their present home.

Before and after retirement is an excellent time to prepare the house for what comes next in life—before any significant health issues appear. Choosing to Age in Place earlier in life using Universal Design techniques means a family can longer enjoy the home without obstruction. Their relatives, visitors, and children have peace of mind assured the aging loved ones or the chronically ill are safer living at home.

The truth is, with professional help, you can adapt almost any home environment to enable you and everyone else in the family to live within it to the fullest extent safely. The process is not age-related. Disability can strike any family member at any age. The need for greater home accessibilty is the common thread. Universal Design or inclusive design is a design and building pathway that makes homes more accessible to all regardless of their age, mobility, or ability when appropriately used. The design process offers a seamless path for Aging in Place. It addresses the requirements of special needs families or multigenerational situations. Solutions for diverse living conditions are now becoming a possibility.

Regardless of size or ability, people are becoming more familiar with Universal Design and Aging in Place if considering a home remodeling project. Some people use these words interchangeably, but while they are similar, they do differ. Both are specific design techniques used in making a home more comfortable and accessible for individuals of different abilities. Universal Design deals more with customized new dwellings and a proactive remodeling approach for people wanting to Age in Place before any health issues arise. Aging in Place strictly involves remodeling existing homes to accommodate physical needs brought on by sudden health issues in a reactive manner. The costs for both processes represent a beneficial investment in your home for future needs as opposed to merely spending involving aesthetically pleasing remodeling projects.

I came to realize over my building career that including cramped twisting hallways with narrow doorways, bathrooms lacking maneuvering space and usability, kitchens without accessible storage and workspaces, and stepped home entries were repeating home design flaws. The home building industry has always lacked inclusion for all homeowners with their ever-changing needs.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

As a Certified Aging in Place (CAPS) professional (#1636580), I am confident this book, which will hopefully be available toward the end of 2022, will introduce you to a new way of thinking about your home's future. It offers a guide for solving diverse home needs for all people affected by varying physical conditions and aging. I decided to write this book due to many customer requests for a summation of suggestions to improve their home's accessibility, comfort, usefulness, and sustainability and, ideas they could share with others.  I based the information provided on countless past walkthroughs and home assessments. Inside, you can discover room by room the benefits of using the principles of Universal Design and how to incorporate them periodically throughout your living environment at your own pace. I guide you through a home, making suggestions for what will increase your and your family's future accessibility.  You will notice the chapters involving the bathroom and kitchen are pretty extensive. They represent the most important rooms to consider when planning to Age in Place. The most utilized rooms in our homes must accommodate all diverse residents and visitors.

Would you please not allow your home to hold you or your loved ones captive within its walls and enable your home to conform to you and the needs of your family. Please think ahead positively and proactively while preparing for the future. IT JUST MAKES GOOD SENSE.

Home Accessibility Help

#accessiblehomes

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CAPS Services In Austin, Texas

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Thu, Dec 16, 2021 @ 15:12 PM

What are CAPS services and what does CAPS stand for? First of all, CAPS stands for Certified Aging in Place Specialist. The aging societal changes and inventory of inaccessible existing houses created the need for a CAPS certification program. This designation program, offered through the National Association of Home Builders, NAHB, in collaboration with The American Association of Retired Persons or AARP, incorporates components of assessment, technical knowledge, and management skills related to home modifications used to help people stay at home safely and independently for a longer period of time. The program was developed in 2001.

Accessible Shower in Austin

The services offered by a CAPS professional varies from a complete accessible remodel to improving certain areas in the home like bathrooms or kitchens. The precise modifications increase usability according to personal needs of the homeowner and family. The CAPS program connects responsible professionals with homeowners needing specialized accessibility services on an ever-increasing basis. Ordinary homeowners with extraordinary challenges partner up with experienced CAPS professionals and their own families. Working as a team, the trained CAPS specialist along with any family caretakers or therapists is able to identify the day-to-day problems weighing on those with health limitations. Aging in Place services provided by a specialized remodeling contractor ensures all accessibility issues of the home are accomplished correctly. T-Square Company located in Austin, Texas is one of the specialized CAPS certified contractors.

The CAPS credential is a nationwide initiative and many construction and design professionals are taking advantage of the helpful training across the nation. David L. Traut, president, and owner of T-Square Company is an active CAPS member (#1636580) and has participated in the program for over a decade. Furthermore, he has actively completed accessibility design/build remodels for over 25 years for the private sector, HUD, and the VA.  Always check a person's credentials to verify the remodeler holds an active CAPS certification and is familiar with Universal Design. All registered CAPS program graduates and remodeling companies are listed in a national registry in Washington DC. The information is found by calling 1-800-368-5242 or by simply visiting their website at: http:www.nahb.org/en/learn/designations/certified-aging-in-place-specialist.aspx.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

If the current pandemic taught us anything concerning safety and institutional living situations, we now know it is much safer to remain in your home surrounded by familiar surroundings and friends. During the stay-at-home mandates, everyone was aware of what Aging in Place meant. We all became better acquainted with our homes and family members. The best way to approach a desire to Age in Place is by being proactive before an illness takes control of your life. At that point, you must deal with it in a reactive manner. There are many differences between home modifications and a home remodel. The main difference is home modifications involve investing in your familiar home versus spending during remodeling. Home modifications are used to enhance your ADL (Activities of Daily Living) whereas remodeling deals more with aesthetics. Investing in your home will benefit your future retirement years by making your home conform to your needs.  

T-Square Company in Austin, Texas is a CAPS certified remodeler and offers design/build Aging in Place projects using principles of Universal Design. Call 512-444-0097 to discuss your project today and learn how you can achieve better accessibility within your existing home. Our knowledge and experience can help solve your personal needs within your existing home. Whether you need a safer shower, wider doorways, a zero-step entrance, or a more accessible kitchen to entertain your family and friends, T-Square Company is here to help.

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Who Do You Hire for an Aging in Place Project?

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Mon, Mar 29, 2021 @ 15:03 PM

The biggest and most important challenge for any homeowner wanting to increase accessibility using Universal Design to Age in Place is qualifying a chosen builder or remodeler. Consumers must verify the tradesman or professional has both the experience and knowledge for understanding any requirements used to increase the client’s safety and accessibility within the home. This is the only variable a homeowner controls in the building process. You are about to give a complete stranger your trust in a very serious matter of which you most likely know little about beyond articles read on the internet or hearsay. All professionals selected must be knowledgeable and experienced concerning Universal Design projects. The relevant personnel having job input concerning the client consist of architects, designers, builders, remodelers, and any therapists or extended healthcare workers who are involved with any household occupant requiring home modifications. I have witnessed clients who are completely overwhelmed and frustrated when interviewing several groups of building professionals including subcontractors with overlapping scopes of work. They become confused by the large amount of information gathered. Be advised that too many cooks in the kitchen can spoil a successful job outcome. CAPS certified accessibility specialists are trained to be better capable of helping with both the design and construction phases of the project. Most CAPS members have had coursework in Universal Design. However, you would not choose a recent law graduate over an experienced defense attorney to represent you in a serious matter. Even though both people have law degrees, there is only one path to choose. The remodeling business is no exception. All CAPS certified professionals are not equal. Some come from different professional backgrounds other than construction while others have not used their acquired knowledge long enough to make a difference. Ask about their experience and how long they have practiced Aging in Place remodeling. A well-seasoned contractor has seen what issues frequently come up in making improvements for Aging in Place and knows which methods he or she has used to overcome certain problematic areas of the home.

Aging in Place remodeling in Austin

The aging societal changes and inventory of inaccessible existing houses created the need for a CAPS certification program. This designation program, offered through the National Association of Home Builders, NAHB, in collaboration with The American Association of Retired Persons or AARP, incorporates components of assessment, technical knowledge and management skills related to home modifications used to help people stay at home safely and independently for a longer period of time. The program was developed in 2001. The CAPS program connects responsible professionals with home owners needing specialized accessibility services on an ever increasing basis. Ordinary homeowners with extraordinary challenges partner up with experienced CAPS professionals and their own families. Working as a team, the trained CAPS specialist along with any family caretakers or therapists is able to identify the day to day problems weighing on those with health limitations. Aging in Place services provided by a specialized remodeling contractor ensures all accessibility issues of the home are accomplished correctly. The CAPS credential is a nationwide initiative and many construction and design professionals are taking advantage of the helpful training across the nation. Always check his or her credentials to verify the remodeler holds an active CAPS certification and is familiar with Universal Design. All registered CAPS program graduates and remodeling companies are listed in a national registry in Washington DC. The information is found by calling 1-800-368-5242 or by simply visiting their website at: http:www.nahb.org/en/learn/designations/certified-aging-in-place-specialist.aspx.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

Experienced CAPS certified remodelers have the knowledge, expertise and sensitivity to provide modifications for making a home safer, more accessible, and better suited to the client’s required needs. A professional CAPS certified builder or remodeler is able to correctly assess the costs associated with an accessible design and lead the homeowner in the right direction adhering to the available budget costs to accomplish the modifications needed. Home modifications, accessibility products, and barrier free design greatly promote the independence and functional ability of physically challenged and aging individuals. Designing around specific physical conditions for accessibility lessens the impact of arthritis, restricted mobility, or loss of vision by using combinations of products, concepts, and techniques available today. Keep in mind when hiring a Certified Aging in Place Specialist they offer a service rather than a product. Each CAPS member draws from a different knowledge base, and approaches each project in a distinct way.

T-Square Company in Austin, Texas is a CAPS certified remodeler and offers design/build Aging in Place projects using principles of Universal Design. Call 512-444-0097 to discuss your project today and learn how you can achieve better accessibility within your existing home.

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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.

Discover the 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.

Discover the 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 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.  

Discover the 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.

Discover the Principles Of Universal Design

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