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

Universal Bathroom Design

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Dec 02, 2020 @ 11:12 AM

Including Universal Design ideas when periodically remodeling anywhere within the home and especially in the bathroom means the design personally fits a family for a longer period of time. Universal Design contains the natural ability to adapt with people. Many times, an existing bathroom’s layout is changed regarding fixture arrangement and orientation to increase efficiency. Remodeling an existing bathroom using Universal Design possibly involves changing the wall configuration for a more open feeling. Additional space is needed in the bathroom once caretakers providing assistance are required for aging adults or young children.

wheelchair bathroom design in Austin

Modifying the bathroom following practiced wheelchair accessibility guidelines is a great place to start a Universal Design remodel in any home. The expanded clearances involved create a more comfortable and roomy environment for every family member. Universal Design principles provide access for the users of wheelchairs or walkers including everyone else including children. A functional, well organized, and attractive layout placing the items used in close proximity and within reach of the users meets the needs of most homeowners including children and aging adults. This includes people with limited mobility or impaired reach due to physical or medical conditions. The diversity of all people is accounted for. Therefore, it represents a perfect design concept for multi-generational households. Regarding the current multi-generational living environments there are varying participants of many ages with multiple sizes and abilities within the family group indicating the need for Universal Design’s use throughout the home. A major difference in these special family units is a better probability function and dexterity is negatively affected by a group member. 

Planning for the future involving Universal Design principles is so important with any remodel for both now and in the future. Using Universal Design to remodel a bathroom space increases aesthetics, sustainability, usefulness, and safety while lending itself to privacy in a functional surrounding. Universal Design bathroom accessibility includes opening up the area with a clear five foot diameter in case a wheelchair is needed, adding grab bars or handrails throughout the home (or at least blocking for them for a later time when needed), adding a seat within a roll in shower, lowering upper cabinets and counter tops, providing an accessible comfort height toilet, offering at least one vanity sink with roll under capability, adding non-slip flooring, widening hallways, and widening doors. Privacy, sense of belonging, sense of control, and the feelings of safety and security make up the quality of life for any home and are considered for any successful Universal Design project. The reasons for embracing these ideas go beyond aging and disability. They include being an asset for children, is inviting to visitors, it promotes long term health and wellness, works well for seniors, all this paired with the fact it is smart and invisible. 

Bathroom Remodels

Designing task oriented bathroom fixture locations takes into account their use, placement, or how they make up the bathroom environment. This defines the current way of thinking universally. A clear floor space of 30 by 48 inches is provided for approaching all bathroom fixtures. These areas can overlap one another and the five foot turning radius within the design. Always choose quality plumbing fixtures and fittings easily controlled using a single hand motion or a closed fist. Motion controlled sensor fixtures offering hands free operation are a possibility when specifying fixtures and finishes. Sometimes, the master bath today is one of the busiest rooms in the home. It has the potential of becoming the family bathroom. If young children are a part of the family, bath time transforms the bathroom into a very busy and crowded area. If aging parents are visiting, they also need their time in the bathroom because it is a larger and safer space.  

Wheelchair Accessible Remodeling        

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Home Renovations For Disability in Austin

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Fri, Nov 22, 2019 @ 16:11 PM

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

 

Handicap Bathroom Vanity In Austin

Handicap Bathroom Vanity In Austin

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

Home Accessibility Help

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

     Contact T-Square Company today at 512-444-0097 so we can show you how to begin a new accessible chapter in your lifetime.

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Handicap Bathroom Remodel

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Fri, Sep 06, 2019 @ 16:09 PM

 

    Life happens and your present way of going about it includes newly discovered physical barriers which were never an issue before.  You've lost your mobility and are now forced to rely on a wheelchair for assistance at least for the present time.  The maneuvering of familiar areas within your home you'd always taken for granted are now presenting barriers that are limiting your new means of mobility.  Clear openings of 32" or greater, elevation changes steeper than 1:12, and being able to have access to all your home's facilities have been affected springing forth handicap remodeling.  The removal of these home grown barriers that now disrupt your accessible route for handicap bathrooms in Austin, Texas needs to be done by a qualified building professional holding a CAPS certificate.  Any ADA remodeling should comply with both ADA and local building code standards along with the TDLR guidelines.  A handicap bathroom remodel is not age related but becomes a major aspect concerning remodeling for seniors.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

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

Home Accessibility Help

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

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

handicap bathroom remodel in Austin

Handicap Accessibility

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

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

     Aging in place design is mostly used for homeowners who require home modifications to allow them to remain in their home safely and comfortably as they age while their physical abilities change over time. Universal design is a much broader term covering the design of products and environments that are usable by all members of the household, from the youngest to the oldest, to the largest extent possible, without the need for further alterations, adaptations, or specialized design.  Universal Design provides a pathway to seamlessly age in place.  It is truly thinking ahead when it comes to accommodating the living environment for better home access.

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

 

Wheel Accessible Remodeling In Austin, Texas

    Elder Construction

      

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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


Happy Trail AIP 016.jpg


 Aging In Place Home Modifications

Wheelchair Accessible Remodeling

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Handicap Accessible Housing

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Tue, Aug 27, 2019 @ 12:08 PM

     The ADA is the Americans With Disability Act developed in the 1990's to be sure any person with a disability will have equal access to all public facilities and spaces. Unfortunately there are no restricted codes or regulations concerning residential bathrooms or disability access baths. However, these published guidelines for ADA accessibility concerning buildings and facilities is a great resource for ideas on how to make any home safer and easier to live in while aging in place.   Homes can become more accessible through bathroom remodels to people as they age. Many of these published guidelines for wheelchair accessible remodeling, 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. This is the primary basis for ADA remodeling.

    In designing for specific physical conditions, we realize that aging doesn't always bring on disease while the body declines making certain physical limitations inevitable. Arthritis is the most common chronic condition to appear as it restricts ordinary daily activities. The lack of hand strength and stiff knees are indicative of this illness. This most reported arthritic condition affecting people over the age of 65 is followed by heart disease and vision loss in that order. Smart aging design and concepts can compensate for the introduction of frailty, lack of mobility, and blindness in aging in place families. We are constantly coming up with new methods for home modifications and household products to increase the comfort of our residential environments.

Principles Of Universal Design

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

     Mobility limitations vary dramatically but, depending on the personality of the individual, any diminished capacity creates feelings of dependence or depression. When considering an accessible home remodeling project, anticipate that any conditions you are experiencing will only progress for the worst with age. Simple changes to help with hand grip strength or coordination within the home can include large rocker type wall switches, touch controlled lamp switches, and converting round door knobs to lever sets. Mobility aids like walkers, canes, and wheelchairs need to be available at any time. People utilizing these mobility aids may use them all but at different times during the day or hopefully not at all. Accessible home remodeling must take this into account and be designed to accommodate them all as needed by the user.

Handicap Accessible Housing In Austin

Handicap accessible housing in Austin

 Home Accessibility Help

     Most residential housing is geared to young healthy adults. Builders do not take into account age-related conditions such as reduced mobility or limited range of reach. Hence, dwellings do not support the physical and sensory changes that older adults encounter as they age. What appear to be insignificant home features can have significant effect: for a person with even minor aging issues.

     Some permanent disabilities require constant wheelchair use. The home modifications must accommodate a person who is always seated. A five foot turning radius should be observed in the bathroom, kitchen, and living area so as not to restrict the movement of the wheelchair. An unobstructed barrier free accessible route will be determined during the assessment for wheelchair accessible remodeling. Clear wider hallways of at least 42" in width and doorways of at least a 32" clear width must be the standard. Light switches and cabinetry must be lowered where 48" is the reaching limit of a person sitting.

     Impaired memory and think presents a different set of problems to the aging in place specialist's design. Every effort must be made to limit the confusion of those utilizing the remodeled space. As with all progressive diseases , a patient's needs will change over time, any modifications or solutions may be effective only for short periods of time. Restricting the entrances to rooms that present the greatest hazards like the kitchen and bathroom must be taken into account during the assessment.

     Concerning visual challenges, good lighting that is not glaring, appropriate color choices, and contrasting elements within the room design are paramount as considerations for a design. Hearing limitations require LED lighting to indicate appliances being on. Doorbells, stove tops, and life safety devices need to be visual as well as audible.

     Accessible homes look much like other homes but they still help with handicap accessibility.  These homes often have a sunny open feeling since there are fewer walls between common areas.  Level floors create a comfortable flow between living areas and make rooms easier to keep clean.  The kitchen is more efficient having compact storage and the bathrooms are a little more spacious than in a traditional home.  The house is safe designed to reduce the potential for falls.  Adequate glare-free lighting is well positioned to prevent dark spots.  The accessible home is the home of the future representing the way we want to live right now.  Well-planned accessible homes lift the spirits and enhance dignity.  They have the ability to transform our relationships with our bodies and our homes.

     Knowledgeable construction and design professionals are utilizing their CAPS training across the nation. CAPS stands for Certified Aging In Place Specialist. 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 members can be found at nahb.org/CAPSdirectory.

     What really defines accessible home modifications and elder construction in Austin?  Barrier free architectural design and accessibility for all who enter the structure while approaching the main living areas of the home in question is a fair definition. Universal design and aging in place trends have taken hold in the residential remodeling industry.  The current housing inventory doesn't offer the features needed for safety and accessibility in the numbers needed to accommodate the ever growing demand.  It is ultimately up to the individual homeowners and their families to plan for future housing needs. Once it is discovered that modifications to an existing home are not possible to accomplish total accessibility then it is time to consider a newer or custom built accessible home.

     Along with aging in place, the use of universal design in handicap accessible home renovations is becoming more of a household term. 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.

Accessible Homes Of Austin

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

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Accessible Housing

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Tue, Aug 27, 2019 @ 12:08 PM

     In designing for specific physical conditions, we realize that aging doesn't always bring on disease while the body declines making certain physical limitations inevitable. Arthritis is the most common chronic condition to appear as it restricts ordinary daily activities. The lack of hand strength and stiff knees are indicative of this illness. This most reported arthritic condition affecting people over the age of 65 is followed by heart disease and vision loss in that order. Smart aging design and concepts can compensate for the introduction of frailty, lack of mobility, and blindness in aging in place families. We are constantly coming up with new methods for accessible housing and household products to increase the comfort of our residential environments.

Principles Of Universal Design

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

     Mobility limitations vary dramatically but, depending on the personality of the individual, any diminished capacity creates feelings of dependence or depression. When considering an accessible home remodeling project, anticipate that any conditions you are experiencing will only progress for the worst with age. Simple changes to help with hand grip strength or coordination within the home can include large rocker type wall switches, touch controlled lamp switches, and converting round door knobs to lever sets. Mobility aids like walkers, canes, and wheelchairs need to be available at any time. People utilizing these mobility aids may use them all but at different times during the day or hopefully not at all. Accessible home remodeling must take this into account and be designed to accommodate them all as needed by the user when increasing home accessibility.

Accessible Housing In Austin

Accessible Housing In Austin, Texas

 Home Accessibility Help

     Most residential housing is geared to young healthy adults. Builders do not take into account age-related conditions such as reduced mobility or limited range of reach. Hence, dwellings do not support the physical and sensory changes that older adults encounter as they age. What appear to be insignificant home features can have significant effect: for a person with even minor aging issues.

     Some permanent disabilities require constant wheelchair use. The home modifications must accommodate a person who is always seated. A five foot turning radius should be observed in the bathroom, kitchen, and living area so as not to restrict the movement of the wheelchair. An unobstructed barrier free accessible route will be determined during the assessment for wheelchair accessible remodeling. Clear wider hallways of at least 42" in width and doorways of at least a 32" clear width must be the standard. Light switches and cabinetry must be lowered where 48" is the reaching limit of a person sitting.

     Impaired memory and think presents a different set of problems to the aging in place specialist's design. Every effort must be made to limit the confusion of those utilizing the remodeled space. As with all progressive diseases , a patient's needs will change over time, any modifications or solutions may be effective only for short periods of time. Restricting the entrances to rooms that present the greatest hazards like the kitchen and bathroom must be taken into account during the assessment.

     Concerning visual challenges, good lighting that is not glaring, appropriate color choices, and contrasting elements within the room design are paramount as considerations for a design. Hearing limitations require LED lighting to indicate appliances being on. Doorbells, stove tops, and life safety devices need to be visual as well as audible.

     Accessible homes look much like other homes but they still help with handicap accessibility.  These homes often have a sunny open feeling since there are fewer walls between common areas.  Level floors create a comfortable flow between living areas and make rooms easier to keep clean.  The kitchen is more efficient having compact storage and the bathrooms are a little more spacious than in a traditional home.  The house is safe designed to reduce the potential for falls.  Adequate glare-free lighting is well positioned to prevent dark spots.  The accessible home is the home of the future representing the way we want to live right now.  Well-planned accessible homes lift the spirits and enhance dignity.  They have the ability to transform our relationships with our bodies and our homes.

     Knowledgeable construction and design professionals are utilizing their CAPS training across the nation. CAPS stands for Certified Aging In Place Specialist. 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 members can be found at nahb.org/CAPSdirectory.

     What really defines accessible home modifications and elder construction in Austin?  Barrier free architectural design and accessibility for all who enter the structure while approaching the main living areas of the home in question is a fair definition. Universal design and aging in place trends have taken hold in the residential remodeling industry.  The current housing inventory doesn't offer the features needed for safety and accessibility in the numbers needed to accommodate the ever growing demand.  It is ultimately up to the individual homeowners and their families to plan for future housing needs. Once it is discovered that modifications to an existing home are not possible to accomplish total accessibility then it is time to consider a newer or custom built accessible home.

     Along with aging in place, the use of universal design in handicap accessible home renovations is becoming more of a household term. 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.

Accessible Homes Of Austin

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

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Bathroom Remodeling Contractors Austin, TX

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Aug 07, 2019 @ 13:08 PM

     If you have been considering a fine bathroom makeover or remodeling project in Austin there are a few things you should take into consideration.  Bathroom makeovers in Austin, Texas can take on many looks and facets.  The scope of work you choose to accomplish your bathroom transformation should effectively solve your problems and most importantly, your needs as the home owner.  The identification of these specific needs belongs to you the home owner.  The way your home is structurally altered to accomplish these needs is the job of the professional remodeling contractor.  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 is using the restroom.  CAPS professionals in the remodeling industry can help with solutions in solving these issues.  Bathroom remodeling contractors Austin, Texas can provide you with answers to your much thought about questions.

Principles Of Universal Design

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

     Just look at the different types of housing represented throughout Austin and the surrounding areas.  Smaller homes, cottages, sprawling historical town homes surrounded by architecturally pleasing fences, rustic ranch homes, Macmansions, and sleek high rise condominiums are just a few examples of the structures that define Austin's diverse housing landscape. Economic situations along with personal preference formulates where we choose to live in a town with such diversity.       Most people remember how the old style bathtub/shower combination was a standard part of any bathroom design.  Some residential showering areas were enclosed using the multicolored vinyl shower curtain option while others had bipassing or sliding shower doors on tracks.  The doors were framed with either chrome or gold colored aluminum matching the sliding tracks.  Modern bathroom designs have become much more sophisticated because the many available bathroom products are easier to be discovered by the homeowner.  There are millions of pictures representing fine bathroom upgrades or bathroom remodeling all across the internet.

    Certainly there are many upgrades available when planning a bathroom remodel.  A custom tub shower conversion can create a bold  look but will run you around $11,000.  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 suite remodel.  The type of fixtures and building components chosen along with the labor will compose the overall cost of the remodeling project.

Bathroom Remodeling Austin

     Keep in mind that moving plumbing, especially drains, is one of the more expensive aspects of a fine bathroom makeover involving floor demolition.  If you can limit and control the costs involved with this issue you will have more money to spend on the things that show off your endeavors.  Changing water supply line locations for a custom tub shower conversion is not as difficult as moving drains especially when they go into the main drainage system that resides underneath the finished floor.

     Proper lighting is always an important aspect to be installed during a bathroom remodel.  It can be broken down by task.  Recessed cylindrical can lighting is used today to provide the overall luminescence for the room.  Trims with lenses can be installed above baths and showers by code to brighten darker areas.  Light strips or single wall fixtures can be designed around the new framed beveled mirror that you have chosen.  The choice of bulbs utilized is yours for now at least.  Try using dimmers to control your new lighting creating mood. 

     Ventilation is so important when planning a bathroom upgrade because of the humidity involved.  Too many times a single exhaust fan is installed above the toilet, or what is much worse, in the center of the room.   Heat and humidity naturally rise and will overtake the entire room if given a chance. Today's quiet bathroom exhaust fans should be sized according to the room's air volume.  They should be located above any bathing or showering facility and above the toilet.  Conditioned air along with adequately sized duct work supplied by your central unit will further accentuate a pleasant feeling within the bath.

      Bathroom plumbing fixture choices are numerous to say the least.  Select reputable companies offering the best warranties especially when considering finishes used on control valve trims and the fixtures installed in the project.   Larger walk in shower designs should have seamless fiberglass liners to avoid leaks if the house ever shifts.  Using natural stone or glass tiles while additionally designing in glass blocks will certainly be an upgrade.  As for the new walk in shower design, you can design the space to not need a door for splash protection or you can take the route of a clean looking frameless glass shower enclosure.   This will surely set you back at least $900.  The end result will be a sophisticated  clean look of beauty enclosing your new shower.  Whether the door sits upon a curb or you have a specific need for a curbless situation you will be satisfied with your choice.

      Who do you choose to help you with your dream?  It is true that a professional 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 verses 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 down time of a most useful room.  Subcontractors will not be covered up and each skilled  trade is brought onto the sight 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 experiences covering a worker's accident while on your property.  Don't forget that only a certified aging in place (CAPS) professional can help you solve your accessibility issues.

     T-Square Company is a design/build remodeling contractor specializing in bathroom and kitchen remodels for over three decades in Austin.  Our CAPS certification helps provide accessibility to our clients with special needs because we have the knowledge and experience to work with.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

 

 Austin Bathroom Remodels

bathroom remodel Austin, TX

Bathroom Remodels

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ADA Compliant Grab Bars

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

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

ADA Compliant Bathroom In Austin

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

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

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

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

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

Handicap Accessibility

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

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ADA Vanity Height

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

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

ADA Vanity In Austin

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

Home Accessibility Help

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

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

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

ADA Bathroom Cabinets

 

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Accessible Toilets

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

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

Accessible toilet in Austin

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

Home Accessibility Help

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

Handicap Home Modifications

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

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