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

Remodel Your Bathroom Wisely For Future Needs/Accessible Bathrooms

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Fri, Nov 12, 2021 @ 15:11 PM

As a universal design/build construction company located in Austin, Texas, T-Square Company realizes that building for your future changing needs is a very valuable consideration concerning all your periodic remodeling projects. We always design for the future for our clients, regardless of their age or abilities. This thought process is especially true when designing a bathroom upgrade. Being a nationally CAPS certified remodeler, we are very aware your personal needs can change in the blink of an eye. The daily tasks of getting into the bathroom, bathing, showering, using the toilet, or brushing your teeth can become almost impossible without assistance if you don't address your bathroom's inaccessibility in a proactive manner. Any revisions must be completed before you absolutely need the help. Design shortcomings become ever so noticeable if you have an accident and are recovering at home or a debilitating disease sets in. Most all problems caused by architectural barriers will be eliminated with a handicap accessible bathroom remodel.

We are certain that avoiding emergency remodeling while incorporating Universal Design techniques into your home whenever possible is a great way of enhancing your health, independence, and safety. This practice also provides a better overall quality of life. The sooner the main inaccessible areas in your home are addressed, the longer you and your family have to enjoy them. For those desiring to Age in Place, as in safely living in your own home for as long as possible, gradually incorporating the principles of Universal Design into all remodeling projects provides a seamless gateway for successful aging. So, what are the main concerns when designing a bathroom for the future?

 

Getting Into The Bathroom

Accessible bathroom in Austin

When possible, you should always install a 36-inch wide door into your bathroom allowing all mobility devices to enter without obstruction. Sometimes it's easier when walls cannot be altered or removed to make a large double door entry into the bathroom. Replacing the original twenty-four to twenty-eight-inch wide door offers maximum accessibility for anyone. This universal design element provides clear approaches toward all bathroom fixtures from an adjoining room.  Additionally, an unobstructed 60-inch wheelchair turning radius is shared by the bathroom and adjacent room.

 

An Accessible Shower

ADA shower in Austin, Texas

A safe, low-profile (1 1/2" tall) accessible shower with roll-in capability from an add-on ramp suits the needs of most diverse homeowners. Even if you don't require the grab bars during a particular phase of your life, installing adequate blocking before the tile is installed provides a universal path for your future needs once the bars are required. Take note, the grab bars must be able to withstand a shear force of 300 pounds. Their purpose is to provide support and stability when you need it most. Clutter within the shower and especially on the shower floor is a safety hazard. Recessed shampoo niches keep shampoo bottles and other items off the floor. Additionally, folding shower seats are far safer than free-standing models that are rarely ever in the right place. They save space when folded while not in use and never interrupt the use of a shower chair. It is a common misconception that shower controls must be mounted on one wall underneath the fixed shower head. Shower valves can be installed anywhere they are most convenient for the user, especially if a caretaker is involved. A recessed shower can light above the shower decreases shadows and further increases safety.

 

Using The Toilet

ADA accessible toilet in Austin

When a toilet exists in a confining room or space, there is no easy way of approaching it if you have mobility problems and especially if you are using any kind of mobility device. After all, safety is the predominant concern when using the toilet. Remove all restricting walls and narrow doors so everyone can freely approach and use the toilet. Once again, grab bars increase safety when they are required and must be adequately prepared for installation. Another problem with toilets involves those that are too short requiring deep knee bends for using them. A higher comfort height toilet offers significant help with this problem. Be sure the flush handle is toward the open side of the bathroom.

 

Brushing Your Teeth

IMG_0068-1

Offering adaptability in a vanity is a universal design aspect. Everyone has equal access while standing or using a wheelchair--if only for a short time during recoveries. More adaptability is offered using multiple height countertops. Lever faucets are easier for everyone to operate, even for those users with arthritis. Motion-sensor faucets create washing areas that are completely hand-free.

 

When you are ready to take the next steps toward your accessible future, contact T-Square Company in Austin, Texas. We can show you how to address your personal needs using our more than thirty years of knowledge and design/build accessibility experience. We guarantee to keep you safer in your existing home longer and out of dangerous and uncaring institutions using our proven design methods. We offer all handicap accessible home renovations or additions--especially accessible bathrooms.

David L. Traut, CAPS #1636580

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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.

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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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.

Harper VA 010

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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ADA Compliant Bathroom Vanity

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Jan 15, 2020 @ 12:01 PM

    Traditionally bathroom vanities were constructed so the finished cabinet top was 30” AFF (above finished floor). This meant that taller people had to bend over and stand away from the sink in order to use it. This puts added stress on the lower back and legs diminishing the comfort factor. Typically bathroom vanities are 21" deep and approximately 29" tall. The depth is not a problem but most folks would prefer a universal design height of 34". Universally, sinks shouldn't be mounted higher than 34 inches from the floor to the top of the cabinet top for an under mount or drop in model. The sinks should not exceed six inches in depth and should be installed within three inches from the front of the overhanging cabinet top edge. The ADA vanity cabinet or even a simple wall hung sink should have a knee clearance below of 27 inches high and be at a minimum 32 inches wide by 11-25 inches deep. The choice of sink styles depends on the personal preference of the user. Be sure the lavatory controls are easily controlled with lever or paddle handles and are capable of being operated with one hand and not requiring tight grasping, pinching, or pinching of the wrist. Knobs, discs, or ball type handles can be hard to operate by anyone with soapy hands and more so by someone having an arthritic condition or other ailments. The closer the sink valves can be located toward the front of the sink the better. This can be accomplished by following the curved outline of the sink.

ADA compliant vanity in Austin
 


     There are basically two styles of ADA vanities that comply with an unobstructed roll under area below the sink.  This capability has everything to do with both the water supply lines and the main waste line connecting the sink.  There must be provisions made to protect the user from being scalded when coming into contact with any one of the plumbing pipes serving the sink.  These connecting pipes may become heated merely by the water passing through them creating a problem of scalding the user especially if they are unable of feeling sensations.  The open type model should always receive both waste and supply insulating jackets applied directly to the pipes providing protection for the wheelchair user.  The closed model concealing the pipes will be equipped with a removable face or panel board covering the pipes.  This pipe concealing panel must be installed at the correct angle.  This allows for the needed unobstructed legroom required for the  user.  The vanity can extend beyond the sink but the area containing the sink is required to have this roll under capability which is 27" tall and 32" wide.   This section of the vanity top must not be any taller than 34 inches above the finished floor with the sufficient lower clearance mentioned above.  Clear unobstructed reach distances around the counter top area must be observed at 24 inches.  Any motion controlled sensors integrated into the various dispensing devices and/or plumbing fixtures throughout the bathroom present a true hands free benefit to all the bathroom users.  If these aren't in the budget then at least wrist handles used for controlling the faucet can be incorporated into the design of the vanity.  Bathroom vanities with 34" 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.

 

ADA Compliant Vanity In Austin



Recommended Clear Dimensions And Requirements


     Sinks shouldn't be mounted higher than 34 inches from the floor to the top of the cabinet top for an under mount or drop in model.  The sinks should not exceed six inches in depth and should be installed within three inches from the front of the overhanging cabinet top edge.  A rear drain is recommended to have the proper clearance when rolling under the vanity.  The ADA vanity cabinet or even a simple wall hung sink should have a knee clearance below of 27 inches high and be at a minimum 30 inches wide by 11-25 inches deep.  A 9" high clear kick area (by 6" deep) at the floor should be maintained for a full height cabinet and be approximately ten inches deep according to the cabinet depth. Remember twenty four inches is the maximum reach distance while sitting in a wheelchair.  Be sure the lavatory controls fall within this range and are easily controlled being operated with one hand and not requiring tight grasping, pinching, or pinching of the wrist. 

ADA Bathroom In Austin

 

Clear Floor Space


     To assure a clear floor space the lavatory must be installed at 24" from any side wall measuring from the center of the sink.  The distance from one sink to another if using a double lavatory layout should be at least 30" center to center.  In the case of wall hung freestanding sinks the minimum distance between them should be 4" between the sink edges.

ADA vanity in Austin

     A clear floor space of 30 by 48 inches must be provided to access all bathroom fixtures and these areas can overlap one another.  The adjoining and overlapping wheelchair turning space should be an unobstructed sixty inches in diameter.  A wheelchair turning space could utilize a T-shaped space considering a sixty inch square having two 12"x 24" areas removed from each corner of the square from the same side. This will be a 36" wide base with two 36" wide arms.  T-shaped wheelchair turning spaces can include on one arm.  In this case the clear width at the cabinet should be 36" to use the space as part of the T-turn.

ADA Bathroom Cabinets

     Let's face it, accessible homes are needed by all of us at some time in our lives.  This is true whether it's for ourselves, a family member, or a guest.  The need is certainly not driven by age but is a result of life's experience.  Any family living with disability among any of the generations within it's group can always benefit from additional accessibility.   This will in turn increase safety and independence for all involved as they go through life.

     Aging in place home modifications are available through T-Square Company. We are a certified aging in place (CAPS) specialist.  Each design/build situation will be customized to fit your personal needs. 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

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

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What Is The Height Of A Handicap Vanity?

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Thu, Dec 12, 2019 @ 15:12 PM

     ADA guidelines state that accessible sinks shouldn't be mounted higher than 34 inches above the floor for adults. For children, the sink should be set at 29 inches maximum above the finished floor. Both these heights are dependent on the individual using the sink and are truly a set of guidelines. Adults should have a knee clearance of 27 inches high by 30 inches of width with 11-25 inches deep. For children or smaller adults, a knee clearance of 24 inches above the floor is recommended. All sinks for the handicapped user should have no more than a 6 1/2 inch depth.There should also be a clear associated floor space for approach in front of the vanity which measures 30 by 48 inches. This clear space is needed to approach all bathroom fixtures and the clear spaces can overlap within the bathroom design. To assure a clear floor space the lavatory must be installed at 24" from any side wall measuring from the center line of the sink. The distance from one sink to another if using a double lavatory layout should be at least 30" center to center. In the case of wall hung freestanding sinks the minimum distance between them should be 4" between the sink edges. A clear 24 inch reach distance must be observed to help assist a seated person.

ADA Vanity In Austin

     There is no one set of dimensions which works for everyone with special needs since everyone is different.   Bathroom cabinets in Austin vary by style and usability needs.  There are basically two styles of ADA bathroom vanities that comply with an unobstructed 27" tall roll under area below the sink.  ADA sinks with a rear drain location provide for better plumbing drain hook ups.  This modification has everything to do with both the water supply lines and the waste line connecting the sink.  There must be provisions made to protect the user from being scalded when coming into contact with any one of the plumbing pipes serving the sink.  These connecting pipes may become heated merely by the water passing through them creating the problem.  The open type model should always receive both waste and supply insulating jackets applied directly to the pipes providing protection for the wheelchair user.  The closed model concealing the pipes will be equipped with a removable face or face board covering the pipes.  This pipe concealing panel must be installed at the correct wheelchair user clearance angle.  This allows for the needed unobstructed legroom required for the  user.  The vanity can extend beyond the sink but the area containing the sink is required to have this roll under capability.  This section of the vanity top must not be any taller than 34 inches above the finished floor with sufficient lower leg clearance.  Clear unobstructed reach distances around the counter top area must be observed.  Any motion controlled sensors integrated into the various dispensing devices and/or plumbing fixtures throughout the restroom present a true hands free benefit to all the restroom users.  If these aren't in the budget then at least wrist handles used for controlling the faucet can be incorporated into the design of the vanity.  Furthermore, automatic flush valves should be used on all toilets and urinals that provide for hands free use.

ADA Bathroom Cabinets

     Finding a disability contractor familiar with the guidelines of Elder construction and accessibility for people with special needs can be quite difficult. Be sure to check out the credentials of any potential bidders you contact.  Also be sure they understand that the alterations you are seeking are for wheelchair accessible home remodeling and modifications.  Furthermore be sure this person knows and practices both the federal and most importantly your state's requirements before entering into any contract. We offer complete handicap accessible floor plans generated around our individual clients.

     Aging in place home modifications are available through T-Square Company. We are a certified aging in place (CAPS) specialist.  Each design/build situation will be customized to fit your personal needs. 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

     Let's face it, accessible homes are needed by all of us at some time in our lives.  This is true whether it's for ourselves, a family member, or a guest.  The need is certainly not driven by age but is a result of life's experience.  Any family living with disability among any of the generations within it's group can always benefit from additional accessibility.   This will in turn increase safety and independence for all involved as they go through life. 

Increase Your Accessibility

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Universal Home Design In Austin

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Tue, Oct 29, 2019 @ 15:10 PM

     It appears that after so long a time of blogging, soap box deliveries, and conversations with my customers concerning the importance of Universal Design in the future of our home building industry others have listened and are in agreement. I was humbled to find this article published in the Austin American Statesman and take pride in the fact that people are beginning to see the importance of this very forward thinking design concept.  May this article help to propel the needed universal building movement forward.

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

     Aging in place home modifications are available through T-Square Company in Austin, Texas. Each universal design/build project will be customized to fit any and all homeowners personal needs. Call 512-444-0097 today to begin to prepare for the accessible second chapter of your life while remaining safe and secure in your existing home. T-Square Company will design and build you an adapted living environment completely customized toward your abilities. Whether your project concerns home modifications, an accessible addition or wing, or new construction we can help you increase your accessibility. We have over three decades of building and remodeling experience practicing as a disability contractor for people with special needs . We want to help our clients be as self sufficient and independent as possible by offering handicap accessible floor plans. Let us show you how to increase the safety and accessibility within your personal living environment.

CAPS 1636580

 

Accessible Homes Of Austin

 


The trend toward 'universal design' in homes
Tuesday, Jan 15, 2019 @ 3:57pm
By David Wilfong

universal home design in Austin

Simple adjustments like a sideways opening oven can make life a lot easier for a person in a wheelchair. | Jofre Essley / Flickr
For many years disabled people faced challenges at every corner of public life. Stairs, rough ground, or even just reaching objects on a shelf created obstacles at inopportune times. Then the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) came into play. Wheelchair ramps and handicapped restrooms became commonplace in common spaces, and the result has been an improved quality of life for millions.
Then there’s the subject of home design. Homes have been modified for many years to meet the needs of the disabled, but now there is a new concept of “universal design,” which means homes being built for all needs from the beginning, even if there is not currently a disabled person living there.
“Along with aging in place, universal design is becoming more of a household term,” says T-Square Company (14141 Highway 290 West, Suite 800 in Austin) in is online blog. “Essentially, it’s about building or modifying places and spaces—both public and private—to accommodate people of all ages and abilities. More than just an architectural concept, universal design is a win-win for sandwich generation boomers caring for aging parents and their children at home, for grandparents raising grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and for all who are facing the challenges of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other chronic diseases. Whether your family needs the support now or down the road, universal design features are a good long-term investment for the home itself.”
The trend toward 'universal design' in homes
Tuesday, Jan 15, 2019 @ 3:57pm
By David Wilfong

Principles Of Universal Design

 

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Handicap Accessible Floor Plans

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Mon, Oct 14, 2019 @ 13:10 PM

     T- Square Company in Austin, Texas is an industry leading accessible, universal, certified Aging in Place and VA approved Specially Adapted Housing custom home builder and remodeler. We offer both new totally accessible homes and complete handicap modifications for existing homes. Traditional home builders and remodelers don't really consider the needs of the disabled or elderly like ADA vanities , roll in showers, or specially adapted kitchens which are universal in nature.  It takes a special breed of contractor to realize special needs for special people.

Handicap Accessible Home Design In Austin

      A revolution in building design standards is long overdue.  Our current building design standards do not address the needs of more than one third of our existing population.  Many more people can greatly benefit from accessible design versus conventional design.  Our rapidly aging population is experiencing the limitations of our personal living environments.  Any evolution in building practically always begins in the common areas of the commercial building sector.  The American Disabilities Act of 1990 increased the attention needed for those people having the right to equally access their work place and any recreational or leisure facilities.  These rules at least offer minimal solutions for those needing the most help with any building access.  In Austin, we now must  provide access to one bathroom on the first floor in new homes as deemed by our newly adopted building regulations.  This basic right to a handicap accessible bathroom is finally being enforced by the city's building inspectors.  What a tremendous needed and basic design improvement!

     Finding the right design/build contractor with ADA knowledge and experience can be a challenge.  Obtaining help for maintaining your independence throughout an accessible wheelchair design in Austin is possible.  You should be looking for a CAPS certified contractor who understands life changes.  A local contractor who offers specialty products and services standing out from the rest of the pack.  A contractor who has the ability, through experience,  to help clear the murky water impeding your accessible route and how it can be accomplished.  One who takes ADA remodeling to another level promoting safety.  A well versed construction professional can take on and solve any residential ADA challenge creating handicap accessible house plans.  These can include widening doorways, ADA compliant kitchen cabinets, or ADA compatible baths

Home Accessibility Help

     Accessible floor plans can include level no step entries, wider hallways and doorways, adequate maneuvering space for a wheelchair turning radius throughout the home, non-slip flooring, ramps to overcome level changes, clear unobstructed walkways, special area lighting, accessible closets and storage, roll out or pull out shelving, easy grab door hardware, automatic and graspable faucets, full extension drawers, accessible switches and outlets, roll in showers, ADA roll under vanities, counter tops, and work spaces, accessible kitchen appliances, and many other specialty features designed around the homeowner's abilities.

     A handicap accessible house plan takes the special needs of the physically disabled into consideration throughout the entire design. This type of home layout typically includes fewer walls, more open space, and wider hallways for increased mobility throughout the home for those that require the use of a wheelchair.

     The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures that public spaces are designed to accommodate disabled patrons, and this type of home does as well. After all, living with a disability presents many challenges, as the ADA acknowledges, and navigating the home shouldn't be one of them. The home shouldn't ever make the homeowner feel like a prisoner within it's walls.

    Aging in place construction and Austin ADA remodeling has become synonymous with handicap accessible home design and modification during our lifetime.   Home modifications can be used to accommodate anyone from people with mobility impairments to those with vision loss, hearing loss, or even cognitive or developmental disabilities. Accessibility home modifications or wheelchair accessible kitchen and bathroom remodeling in Austin will allow anyone with limited mobility within your home to feel more empowered and independent.  The extent of a customized accessibility design is dependent upon the activity level of the person requiring the modifications.

Handicap Accessibility

     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.

 

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Austin Home Remodeling For Disabled

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Sep 04, 2019 @ 10:09 AM


     Our existing architecture does not lend itself well to accomplishing any easy aging in place home remodels in Austin.  In fact, there are more inaccessible homes in all of the US than there are accessible homes and 45% of these existing homes are owned by the baby boomers representing the oldest group of homeowners.  Generally speaking in most residential US properties there are no easy ways to enter into bathrooms or utilize  kitchens without coming into contact with one architectural  barrier or another-especially if a wheelchair or walker is being used to help with mobility issues.  While an estimated 80% of aging homeowners have a firm plan to age in place, everything requires the proper clearance and distance for a new customized accessible route in your home to function properly provided by wheelchair remodeling.

     The concept of successful aging has become increasingly important as senior citizens begin to dominate the population. An active engagement in life through participation in social and productive activities is one component of successful aging. The built environment directly impacts the engagement profiles of older adults so it is necessary to provide environments designed to suit the needs of aging adults. Of all the design theories that attempt to accommodate the aging process, universal design may be the most desirable option as it provides built environments that benefit everyone. Universal design is a promising voluntary philosophy that requires increased attention from designers and builders participating in aging in place. Taken as a whole, it is evident that the application of universal design to the built environment is a positive step toward successful aging.

Principles Of Universal Design

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

  But you say to yourself that  your needed aging in place home modifications basically require general home remodeling in Austin, Texas or in any other town for that matter.  Aging in place services provided by a specialized remodeling contractor holding a national CAPS certificate is who you need as a partner to insure that  the accessibility issues of your home are solved correctly.  With over 30 years of remodeling experience I obtained my registered CAPS certificate.  By offering a design/build firm to my aging in place customers, I get personal satisfaction from giving my clients their independence back while the remain in their existing home.  Without the training required to earn the CAPS certificate on top of my decades of building knowledge I could not offer my customers such a thorough and complete solution for solving their accessibility issues.  Only an experienced qualified remodeler holding a CAPS certificate has the qualifications to design an accessible route and perform the construction required to make it safe and functional for the Aging In Place customer.  There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a person with mobility impairments be able to independently roll into his or her shower and be a part of that accomplishment.

Download Our Free Aging In Place Remodeling Considerations Checklist

  Let's compare the alternative costs associated with aging in place verses when you already own your home.   The more institutional alternative of assisted living accompanied by more medical expertise and staff training plus the access to emergency medical facilities is available as opposed to renting an apartment.  These are two of the main alternative choices for seniors who decide not to remain in their own homes.   According to a national study done in 2014, the average cost for assisted living ranged from $3,000 to $3,500 per month.  However, if you decide to age in place in a high quality one bedroom apartment, the rent will run around $1,300 per month.  Seniors living in their own home or with loved ones represents a preference by most seniors and property taxes must be taken in account.

     An average Aging in Place bathroom home modification providing total accessibility given there is a large space to remodel at onset will come in around $30,000.  This can vary in many aspects if there is not enough room to change the existing floor plan.  Smaller bathrooms can cost $15-20,000 but will not have the barrier free accessibility as the larger modified bathroom.  Fully accessible kitchens will run on the average of $50,000 depending on the size of the existing kitchen.  These are both one time costs for sustainability of a given lifestyle and location providing future independence and safety for the homeowner who participates in accessible home remodeling.  A wheelchair accessible roll in shower alone can cost $15,000 depending on the given plumbing situation and the size required for maneuverability. Many aging homeowners are more than willing to accept these costs if the modifications will give them the freedom to age in place.

     There are five criteria which must be modified in a home to provide a highway for aging in place.

Widen Doorways

If a senior relies on mobility aids, such as a walker or wheelchair, to navigate through her home, widening doorways is a must-have home modification. Depending on the insulation and placement of electrical switches and outlets in the home, costs vary greatly for widening doorways.

Install Ramps

Exterior stairs may be a challenge for seniors who are unsteady on stairs or who have balance issues, so installing ramps is a necessary home modification that is well worth the cost to provide greater independence. CAPS certified contractors are trained in building and installing ramps of the correct height and slope for seniors.

Indoor threshold ramps are also necessary home modifications for older adults who use wheelchairs. These indoor ramps provide smooth transitions from one surface to another, making it safer to navigate throughout the home. The threshold ramps often are constructed of rubber, so they’re easily adjustable to accommodate the step or door jamb height that is involved in the transition.

Kitchen Modifications

As seniors age, they may find that their appliances are no longer in ideal locations and that their counter tops and cabinetry are too high, especially if they are in a wheelchair. Every appliance must be placed within the reach distance for a seated person between 18 and 48 inches.  Professional Caps certified contractors may need to come in and adjust the counter height and lower the sink, to allow for easier access from a seated position. Additionally, seniors aging in place often find it easier when microwaves are placed in microwave stands, as opposed to being at the back of the counter or in raised microwave cabinets.  Providing multi-level counter tops is a way to give accessibility to everyone in the kitchen.

Shower and Bathtub Modifications

A senior opting to age in place also should consider home modifications for the bathroom, particularly the bathtub. One option is a bathtub to shower conversion, which provides a much easier and safer entry and exit than a bathtub. A second bathroom modification option is to replace a traditional bathtub with a walk-in tub.

Roll in showers without curbs are advised for everyone on a universal level for an accessible bath.  A 5 feet square clear floor space is an optimum size when a caretaker is involved. Using a 32-36"  wide barrier free entrance in a shower partition with an out-swinging door is advised for everyone.  Remember wider is better in all respects. Upon exiting the shower a clear floor space of 30"x48" for approach to the shower should be present and this area intersects with a five feet turning radius within the room. The shower should contain a shower wand on a sliding bar mounted at 48" above the floor to be available for varying heights of use accompanied by a regular height fixed shower head above.  These diverse shower heads are both regulated using a diverting controller valve.  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. Installing fixtures with a scald guard or lowering the temperature at the water heater is a must to prevent burns. Fold down seats attached to the shower wall are useful if caretakers are involved. Recessed shampoo niches are helpful to eliminate clutter on the shower floor.  Secure grab bars installed on wood grounds buried within the walls around the entire shower perimeter installed at 34-36" above the finished shower floor increases the safety factor and helps to prevent falls.  A recessed can light fixture should be installed above the shower area for proper lighting. All of the bathroom floor surface must be nonskid type to prevent slipping on a guaranteed wet floor. The ultimate goal in accessible design is to make the bathroom space safe for everyone who uses the bathroom. Universal design can better accommodate wheelchair users and can make the bathroom more comfortable for all users and many times can be done without sacrificing style. It is important to carefully plan the building or remodeling for a wheelchair accessible bathroom by taking inventory of the users capabilities and preferences.

If a senior wants to keep his existing bathtub, or cannot afford to replace it, there are less expensive modifications that can be made to prevent slips and falls in the bathtub. One modification is to add a grab bar to the tub, while another is to install safety strips. Both of these simple modifications can help prevent slips and falls in the bathtub.

Yet another modification for the bathtub, which is less expensive than replacing the bathtub or shower, is to purchase a bathtub transfer bench. Transfer benches straddle the side of the bathtub, enabling seniors to sit safely on the bench while getting into the tub by lifting each leg, one at a time, over the bathtub wall. Getting into the tub while seated greatly reduces the risk of dangerous slips and falls for seniors. Some seniors who cannot spare the required bathroom floor space for bathtub transfer bench legs opt for bathtub chairs, which sit completely inside the bathtub. Seniors may be able to turn around and sit on the chair with both legs outside of the tub and then lift one leg at a time over the tub wall while seated.

Flooring Modifications

Flooring is another consideration for older adults making home modifications with the goal of aging in place. The first step is to evaluate the home’s existing floors. If the carpet is older and shaggy, you may want to consider replacing it with new carpeting that has a shorter nap. Seniors are less likely to trip on shorter-nap carpeting, and it’s also more suitable for seniors who navigate through the home with the use of a walker or wheelchair.

Hardwood, tile, laminate, and vinyl floors are smooth and may allow for easier wheelchair maneuvering, but they also tend to be more slippery than carpeting. People often use throw rugs on these types of flooring, so be sure that you either get rid of them or securely tape them down to prevent trips and falls.  Using the proper tile with an acceptable coefficient of friction will prevent slipping even when wet.

     The best way to prepare for aging in place is to have a definite plan considering all possible outcomes and needs for those involved.  Aging in place isn't for everyone like those with major health issues.  For others with more independence, it can be a practical decision providing quality of life and safety for many years.  Everyone's needs are different as we age and one must allow for flexibility and change for all future decisions.

     The best course of action to take when making home modifications for seniors aging in place is to consider all of the areas of the home that present the most trouble or concern. If there are things that are especially difficult for seniors, like reaching the counter tops or light switches, modify them. If there are potential tripping or falling hazards, eliminate them or modify them accordingly. Taking a proactive approach to modifying the home means that seniors can age in place independently while their loved ones have peace of mind knowing that their aging loved ones are safer in their homes.

      Construction and design professionals are taking advantage of the CAPS training across the nation. This designation is taught through the National Association of Home Builders in collaboration with AARP. CAPS connects responsible professionals with home owners who need these services on an ever increasing basis. CAPS is a nationwide initiative and all active CAPS professionals can be found at nahb.org/CAPSdirectory.  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.

 ACCESSIBLE BATHROOM WITH WHEELCHAIR ACCESS


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 Aging In Place Home Modifications

Wheelchair Accessible Remodeling

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What Is Aging In Place

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Tue, Aug 27, 2019 @ 14:08 PM

     Regardless of your age, you may want to recognize and take under advisement some universal design techniques for your next new construction or home remodeling project. Some people confuse aging in place with universal design.  Both are a method to increase accessibility within the home but aging in place strictly deals with an existing home. Aging in place design also implies modifying any home for it's older occupants to insure that the inhabitants can safely remain there as long as they possibly can through elder living solutions.  This time will expire once they need assisting medically trained help for safeguarding their personal safety in a nursing home or an assisted living environment.  Universal design is just that; offering choices to all of a home's residents no matter their age or physical capabilities.  It starts with a design and then the construction begins. When universal design ideas are incorporated into their floor plan, homes can accommodate the needs of their owners as those needs evolve over time.  Better yet, at time of resale your home will be available to a much larger market of consumers.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

Aging In Place Living Area In Austin

     There are really three categories of aging in place customers requiring home modifications.  Those who are simply and wisely planning ahead for their futures to remain in their present homes.  The second category concerns those people who know they have a chronic medical disorder and need to prepare in advance for accessibility issues which will come as a result of their disease.  People with diseases that are constantly causing increased physical or mental changes to their being are a good representative of this second group.  The third group involves those people who either have had a chronic problem that has  progressed severely altering their mobility or those who have sustained a life altering tragedy such as being involved in an accident.  All of these groups will drive the future metamorphosis of existing inaccessible dwellings.

Principles Of Universal Design

Elder Construction

      Each individual with similar impairments describes his or her limitations differently when undergoing elder construction.  The blind don't experience their world the same as a person with deafness.  The checklist below contains features you may want to consider for your next new construction or renovation project. It also provides a quick reference for various aging in place issues. Because this list is not comprehensive due to people's differing needs, it’s best to also consult with a Certified Aging In Place Specialist. To find one in your area, go to nahb.org/capsdirectory

Download Our Free Aging In Place Remodeling Considerations Checklist

 

Aging In Place Designs

The interior floor plan

A single story one level living area without steps between living areas or attached rooms

A 5-foot by 5-foot clear/turn space in living area, kitchen, a bedroom, and one bathroom

A clear hallway of at least 36" in width being well lit providing an accessible barrier free route of travel throughout the home

All thresholds and transitions along the clear floor space should be tapered and no more than 1/2" in height

All doors should be minimally 36" wide along the accessible route producing a 32" clear opening. All doors should have lever hardware

Kitchen and laundry

Wall support and provision for adjustable and/or varied height counters and removable base cabinets

Upper wall cabinetry three inches lower than conventional height

Accented stripes on edge of counter tops to provide visual orientation to the work space

Counter space for dish landing adjacent to or opposite all appliances

Base cabinet with roll out trays and lazy Susans

Pull-down shelving

Glass-front cabinet doors

Open shelving for easy access to frequently used items

Appliances

Easy to read controls located at front

Washing machine and dryer raised 12-15 inches above floor

Front loading laundry machines

Microwave oven at counter height or below

Side-by-side refrigerator/freezer

Side-swing or wall oven

Raised dishwasher with push-button controls

Electric cook top with level burners for safety in transferring between the burners, front controls and downdraft feature to pull heat away from user; light to indicate when surface is hot

Miscellaneous

A 30-inch by 48-inch clear space at appliances or 60-inch diameter clear space for turns

Multi-level work areas to accommodate cooks of different heights

Open under-counter seated work areas

Placement of task lighting in appropriate work areas

Loop handles for easy grip and pull

Pull-out spray faucet; levered handles

Bathroom

Wall support and provision for adjustable and/or varied height counters and removable base cabinets

Contrasting color edge border at counter tops

At least one wheelchair maneuverable bath on main level with 60-inch turning radius or acceptable T-turn space and 36-inch by 36-inch or 30-inch by 48-inch clear space

Bracing in walls around tub, shower, shower seat, and toilet for installation of grab bars to support 250-300 pounds

If stand-up shower is used in main bath, it is curbless and minimum of 36-inches wide or for any custom tub shower conversions

Bathtub - lower for easier access

Fold down seat in the shower

Adjustable/handheld shower heads, 6-foot hose

Tub/shower controls offset from center and below 48"

Low profile shower stall with built-in antibacterial protection

Light over shower stall

Comfort height toilet two and half inches higher than standard toilet (17-19 inches) or height-adjustable

Design of the toilet paper holder allows rolls to be changed with one hand

Wall-hung sink with knee space and panel or insulation to protect user from scalding pipes

Slip-resistant flooring in bathroom and shower

Electrical, lighting, safety, and security

Light switches by each entrance to halls and rooms

Light receptacles with at least two bulbs in vital places (exits, bathroom)

Light switches, thermostats, electrical panels and other environmental controls placed in accessible locations no higher than 48 inches from floor

Electrical outlets 18-inches above the floor and may need to be closer than 10-feet apart

Clear access space of 30-inches by 48-inches in front of switches and controls

Rocker or touch light switches

Easy-to-see and read thermostats set at or below 48"

Programmable thermostats

Home wired for security

Other ideas

Separate apartment for rental income or future caregiver

Flex room that can used as a nursery or playroom when the children are young and as a home office later; if combined with a full bath, room could also be used for an aging parent/aging in place

     Let's face it, accessible homes are needed by all of us at some time in our lives.  This is true whether it's for ourselves, a family member, or a guest.  The need is certainly not driven by age but is a result of life's experience sometimes requiring wheelchair remodeling.  Any family living with disability among any of it's generations within it's group can always benefit from additional home accessibility.   This will in turn increase safety and independence for all involved as they go through life. 

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

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

Aging In Place Home Modifications

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