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

Austin Kitchen Remodel

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Thu, Aug 29, 2019 @ 17:08 PM

     If you have been considering an Austin kitchen remodel project there are a few things you should take into consideration.  Kitchen upgrades in Austin, Texas can take on many looks and facets.  The scope of work you choose to accomplish this task should effectively solve your problems and most importantly, your needs as the home owner-- for now and for the future.  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.  Aging in place and 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 bathroom.  A CAPS professional in the remodeling industry can help with solutions in solving these issues while performing design/build home modifications.  T-Square Company is a nationally registered CAPS remodeling contractor.   We have over three decades worth of kitchen design/build experience.

Principles Of Universal Design

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

    When you are replacing your old cabinets during a kitchen remodel with some new fine cabinetry or perhaps you are just needing an updated work surface there are a few choices that need to be considered before making your final decision.  Plastic laminates, solid surface material, granite, quartz, stainless steel, wood, and concrete are the most popular choices today when considering new or replacement counter tops for a fine kitchen upgrade.  Each surface has it's own set of pros and cons to take under advisement before a conclusion is reached making sure your selection blends with your lifestyle.  Remember that any samples of materials you see are only small representations of any larger piece when choosing products.  Furthermore protection from heat sources and cutting boards should always be used no matter which top you choose.   Kitchen upgrades and bathroom remodels return the most money at resale on the initial investment of the remodeling project.  National averages show that kitchen remodels recoup around 70% of the costs of the upgrade at the time of resale.  However, your kitchen remodeling costs should never exceed 15% of the total value of your home.  Here is where you need to get your thinking cap on and plan for an affordable budget that is within your means.  Your material choices are very important and if you need to stay mid-level to remain in your budget then do so.  The labor involved for the project will be around 1.6 times the cost of the materials used.  The total budget should allow $100 per square foot for your kitchen upgrade project at a minimum. 

Austin kitchen remodel

     Kitchen remodeling in Austin, Texas is no different than anywhere else.  Basically, for an average size kitchen of between 200-300 square feet you can budget a minimum of $30,000 for your kitchen upgrade.  There are very few DIY kitchen remodeling projects.  Once the demolition is accomplished the inexperienced homeowner should consider his part in the remodel to be complete.  It's time to get the building professionals involved to make sure that the resulting kitchen upgrade functions correctly.  The correct electrical wiring with the new outlets and appliance rough ins should be installed within the kitchen's frame work.  Dedicated circuits per the national electrical code should be wired by a qualified electrician.  This will insure that two appliances can be running simultaneously without tripping any circuit breakers.  The electrician will also install the needed GFI  protected circuits that keep you safe around any wet areas.  It's also a great time to install all the upgraded lighting fixtures with the new switching they require.  Skimping on the electrical budget can cause many problems including an electrical fire.

Kitchen Remodeling

     Plumbing upgrades need to be addressed and the use of a master plumber will make sure that everything functions correctly.  Moving a sink over a small amount can add an additional $2,500 to your project's hard costs as it affects both the plumbing and the floor.  The plumber can be sure that you have adequate water volume for any additional fixtures that will be involved.  The plumber will be involved through the setting of the sink, fixtures, and all appliances requiring water to operate.  When choosing a kitchen sink, whether it is a drop in model or an under mount,  you can never go wrong with a good grade of stainless steel.  These sinks never go out of style and you can outfit them with any color and kind of faucet finish that you see fit.

    Any kitchen remodeling ideas will need to include a better service or work triangle between the sink, refrigerator, and stove placement when remodeling an Austin kitchen.  The shorter the sum of the triangle legs the more efficient the layout.  Twelve to fifteen feet is an optimum size for efficiency.  Islands can also be incorporated into the design to increase your functionality.  The prep sink within the island can become it's own focal point of the work triangle reducing the duties of the main kitchen sink.  The orientation of the island toward the work triangle is very important making sure traffic can still flow freely within the designated triangle. Islands can contain all sorts of special storage areas.  Mixer lifts, produce storage drawers, pullout shelving, divided drawers, wine storage, and dough board pullouts are just a few of the many useful aspects that can be incorporated into the island.

     Moving on to the fine cabinetry for the project, you are limited by what you have budgeted for.  Traditional face frame medium grade oak or maple cabinets will cost you around $160 per linear foot.  Any exotic wood species are even more costly. Special cabinet amenities like pullouts beyond the basic drawer and shelf storage will add more to the total cabinet price.   If the intent of your upgrade is to increase your accessibility via an ADA remodel as in wheelchair accessible,  the new cabinets will most likely have to be custom made.  These alterations should be done by a qualified residential construction contractor who is accomplished in dealing with the local ADA codes. 

     Frameless European full overlay style cabinets are a type of fine cabinetry having either a painted or stained wooden exterior or one with the exterior  totally covered on all exposed surfaces in plastic laminate per your choice of color, pattern, or manufacturer.  The laminated exterior application provides a much cleaner and more modern look for easier maintenance.  The doors and drawer fronts on all European cabinetry are flat having no crevices to conceal grease and grime and directly overlay the cabinet box. Each door is mounted on the inside of the box using fully concealed and adjustable two part hinges.  The frameless European style is represented only by the cabinet carcass or box, composed of the walls, bottom and top (if needed), and back without any face frame components yielding only a 3/4" outward appearance for all the stiles and rails.  This European style which eliminates the usual two inch face frame gives full access to any stored contents with more usable room.  These frameless cabinets limit the amount of exposed stile and rail surface area between the door and drawer faces.  The exposed cabinet area is normally limited to 1/8-3/16 of an inch.  This holds true between any two finished faces coming together presenting a half overlay situation on either a horizontal rail or vertical stile; hence, exhibiting the full overlay method.  This clearance is also typical at the juncture toward the outside walls beside the cabinets. One other characteristic of the European design lies in the adjustable shelving.  A series of 5mm holes are repeatedly drilled in 32mm increments (approximately 1 1/4") continuously at the front and back of all vertical cabinet pieces receiving shelves.  This configuration allows for shelf supports to be inserted to adjust the shelves.  In time, the shelf supporting "dogs" might wear out the holes and become loose causing the shelves to collapse.  The retro use of metal pilasters will remedy the problem.

     Following cabinet installation,  there is no room for the application of wall trim in the European method.   Spaces against the walls should be caulked in place to seal the carcass to the walls.  If the gap toward  the side walls is greater than 1/8 inch preventing a reasonable caulk joint, a laminated filler must be installed.  This new filler should be cut and sanded to fit the taper tightly filling the gap. As mentioned above, the narrow but typical gap from the side of the cabinets to the wall can and will be a problem when European style cabinets are specified for a remodel. Don't forget that the 1/8th inch spacing rule means that no passage door or window trim can be any closer to the new cabinet faces than the cabinet drawers themselves are deep.  Any such trim will always be 1/2 inch or more in thickness thus impedes cabinet function.  By practicing this rule of thumb you will allow the drawers to fully extend. Cabinet doors will also have a clear swing radius and not be wedged against any perpendicular entry door trim.  If the above needed clearance from the cabinet faces to the door trim is nonexistent the entry doors themselves must be relocated.  This aspect will include any wiring for light switches or outlets and should be done by a qualified electrician.

     There are many textured nonporous plastic laminates available today that will help keep your project costs in the black for the cabinet top.  However, the premium grades of plastic laminate counter tops will still cost upwards of $45 per linear foot. Common grades of granite run around $100 per square foot including prep work like edges and sink cut outs and these granite choices can be purchased at square foot pricing. Premium or exotic granite tops must be purchased at slab pricing meaning you will end up with the remnants you don't use to complete the project. Quartz tops are somewhere in the middle and now some are becoming common stock materials in the storage yards available at square foot pricing. Back splashes can either match or be totally different from the surface of the counter top.  Poured in place concrete tops are available as well as stainless steel or solid surface materials. Back splashes using tile patterns and designs must blend well with any of the chosen counter top surface choices. 

    Whatever your situation rely on the experiences of a local building professional.  Check out their credentials and references over merely price checks against other bidders.  Don't make the mistake of letting a cabinet maker subcontractor or tile installer play the part of a general contractor because his knowledge will be limited to that of the cabinets or tile and not the whole project.  You get what you pay for with proper planning and by using an experienced and qualified contractor. T-Square Company has been an accomplished general contracting firm and builder in the Austin area for 35 years.  Our design/build construction techniques will not only save you money but bring your dreams into reality in a seamless manner without confusion. Our team of master tradesmen will work together to make your ideas a reality.  Call us at 512-444-0097 today to set up an in home appointment.

 ADA Kitchen Cabinetry

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What Is Universal Design?

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

    Universal design refers to broad-spectrum ideas meant to produce buildings, products and environments that are inherently accessible to older people, people without disabilities and people with disabilities. Universal Design 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 approach is appealing to all users no matter their age, size, or physical well being. Universal Design is important because our current design standards for housing do not address the design needs of more than one third of our population.  Too often the designers of homes allow the built environment to define the capabilities of the resident.  Universal Design allows for our antiquated architecture to be defined by both our changing human needs and abilities.

Principles Of Universal Design

     There are seven criteria or principles which must be met to be considered a universal design no matter which area of the home you are referring to. Any design must be equally useful to everyone, have flexibility in it's usefulness, be simple and intuitive, be perceived by everyone, have a tolerance for error, require little physical effort, and it must maintain an adequate area for approach and use. Any complexity or discriminating attribute to a design will doom it in terms of  being considered universal in nature. However what better way can you improve on a home's total visitability by everyone? Universal Design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.

 

Bathroom Using Universal Design Techniques

     Whether you refer to this revolution in housing today as accessible design, inclusive design, or universal design it is all about making a home safe, attractive, and easy to use for all of the inhabitants. It has nothing to do with the age, agility, or status of life for anyone living within the home. The main intent of this way of thinking is to be sure the inhabitants are able to enjoy their home throughout their entire lifetime utilizing the universal design principles which have been designed into their home when it was built. This way aging in place can be accomplished without the expense and hassle of having to make periodic changes to the home to meet a person's ever changing physical needs. You can plan for all stages of your life cycle with some fore thought which, once discovered, you find is just common sense. Even if you are in perfect health you can be disrupted by a minor mishap. A more serious injury can change things forever when you no longer have all your abilities.

     Universal Design principles do not equate to accessibility design even though they both are concerned with ergonomics and human function issues. The ADA guidelines for accessibility were created as a means to help those people with extreme disabilities within our society who are a narrow and specific cross section of the masses. A UD approach broadly takes into account moderate impairments or disabilities, temporary health conditions, and the varying abilities of anyone within a home regardless of their age or size. In other words, an ADA accessible home would be designed for the one person with the disability whereas a UD home is designed for everyone and should be used with any custom tub shower conversion.

     Home accessibility should be a concern no matter what your age. If your concerns are not for you, barring any life changing accident, they could concern the accessibility and safety of another generation's independence. As we age, our society is beginning to realize that our homes need to accommodate future life changes. The aging in place phenomena deals with home modifications to existing homes while a universal design home would hardly ever need to address these abrupt issues even though we cannot solve all the future issues for everyone. Everyone ages differently and has their own list of specific needs.

Universal Design Techniques

     A sensible checklist for a home concerning Universal Design would include but is not limited to:

1. Limiting stairs while avoiding sunken rooms or multi-story floor plans with raised entrances

2. Automating lighting while controlling groups of lighting throughout the home

3. Including natural lighting through doors, windows, and skylights

4. Using multiple shower heads in the shower with rain, conventional and hand held units

5. Incorporate curbless showers into the design of your bathroom for ease of entering no matter if a wheelchair is ever involved

6. When deciding on your faucets, door handles, or cabinet pulls always pass the closed fist test for operation

7. Use nonslip flooring especially in wet areas using cork or smaller floor tiles which in turn increase the grout lines

8. Create a correct kitchen work area with the shortest distance between the stove, sink, and refrigerator as possible

9. Provide accessible lower storage in base cabinets storing the most used items on pull out shelving or in drawers

10. Lower your upper cabinets to 15" above your 34" universal cabinet top

11. Leave at least 42" between your cabinets when 48" is much better

12. Have multiple height cabinet tops to double as work surfaces for those who are seated or other little helpers in the kitchen

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

Aging in place home modifications are available through T-Square Company in Austin. Each universal design/build situation will be customized to fit your 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.

CAPS 1636580

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

 

 

 

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Bathroom Remodel Contractors Near Me

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Aug 07, 2019 @ 15:08 PM

     Look at the different types of housing represented throughout Austin and the surrounding areas.  Smaller homes, cottages, sprawling historical townhomes 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 bypassing 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.

Principles Of Universal Design

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

Austin Bathroom Remodel

Bathroom Remodels

     When you go about rearranging your current bathroom, 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 not relying on gravity is easier than moving drains especially when they go into the main drainage system that resides underneath the finished floor.

     If you're current situation is cramped but you already have a double vanity, you might gain space for a new shower expansion by either shortening the vanity while keeping the two sinks or by going with one single sink located in the middle of a shorter vanity.  This can be accomplished by capping off one sink drain completely and/or deleting the water supply stops.  If your toilet is located between the vanity and tub then shortening the vanity is all for naught.  You can move the toilet over but this means breaking out the floor to change the toilet plumbing floor flange plus the water supply.  Be careful as this alteration can be costly and should only be done to allow certain specific situations to evolve.

     In general, bathroom sizes are usually dictated in some respect by the length of the tub which in most cases is five to six feet long.  This is evidenced by a tub that has been installed opposite the entry wall to the bath producing a wall to wall tub situation.  In this configuration the toilet and vanity are generally placed on one of the walls that are perpendicular to the length of the tub. Here is a great starting point to gain space for a larger custom walk in shower to replace the tub you never use.  But if you are fortunate to have both wall lengths exceed the five or six feet norm then space is not an issue and you can proceed with ease.  Just choose your finishes wisely and keep all choices within your budget.

     Certainly there are many upgrades available when planning a bathroom transformation.  The replacement of the tub with a new walk in shower can create a bold  look but will run you around $12,000.  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.

     Fine cabinetry is a must for any bathroom makeover.  As for the vanity, an upgraded cabinet top like quartz installed at the correct height for you is a personal must for function. Do you require a single or double sink configuration?  Under mount or drop in sinks? The vanity should have adequately accessible storage satisfying your needs.  Incorporating  easy operating and properly sized drawers and pull out shelves within the design can be very beneficial.  Linen, medicine, and "over the potty" wall cabinets need to be well thought out. The correct species of wood used for the construction of your fine cabinetry and the style of you cabinet doors are two very important factors to consider.  Remember, you do have a choice and you are going to be looking at these new cabinets for a while.

     Bathroom plumbing fixture choices are numerous to say the least.  Always select reputable companies offering the best warranties especially when considering finishes for the faucets or fixtures installed in the project.   Larger walk in shower designs should have seamless fiberglass liners or state of the art shower bases to avoid leaks if the house ever shifts.  Toilets today come in array of choices. Don't just consider the shape of the new toilet but the height which is also important for universal design. Soft closing or night lit toilet seats are also an option.

     Colors for bathrooms today are natural and earthy creating a calming effect.  Accents of color reflected from the tiles, paint, fixtures, and woodwork are used to make things a little more interesting compared to a room's overall vanilla tones within your design.  Help is just a phone call away but be sure the one who answers has the qualified experience you need for completing your new bathroom transformation.   If you're uncertain about how to proceed with any bathroom remodeling project always rely on a local and trusted building professional.  Sometimes spending a little more money for experienced help with design and construction techniques can save you a lot during the construction process.

     The National Association of Home Builders, in partnership with the AARP and Home Innovation Research Labs, created the CAPS program, which includes training and education on the technical, business management and customer service skills essential to compete in the fastest growing segment of the residential remodeling industry--home modifications for aging in place.  David L. Traut, CAPS the owner of T-Square Company in Austin, Texas is one of the select group of professionals nationwide to earn the Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) designation, identifying him as a home remodeler and builder with the skills and knowledge necessary to remodel or modify a home to meet the unique needs of the older population, disabled owners or their visitors.  Call us at 512-444-0097 to see how we can help you design your bath for the future using Universal Design techniques.  We specialize in all bathroom remodels as well as any handicap accessible bathroom remodel.

      Young Austin homeowners are always looking for ways to bring their existing older home's bathrooms up to date.  Bathroom remodels for these smaller baths can incorporate a number of the items listed above in moderation to fit any budget.  Using beautiful ceramic tiles in an interesting design, updating plumbing fixtures, and the use of neutral colors can create a small bathroom with a "wow" factor. It is quite possible to produce a small but charmingly remodeled bath on a budget.  A project that is affordable plus the fact that it will add resale value to your home cannot be denied.  Check out all the options before committing to a plan and then stick to it.  Always hire a local and professional builder.  Remember that producing change orders because no one thought of "that" can be expensive. Create the style for your bathroom remodel that best gives you a feeling of pride! 

 Bathroom Remodeling Austin

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Principles Of Universal Design

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Fri, Jun 15, 2018 @ 12:06 PM

    Universal design refers to broad-spectrum ideas meant to produce buildings, products and environments that are inherently accessible to older people, people without disabilities and people with disabilities. Universal Design 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 approach is appealing to all users no matter their age, size, or physical well being. Universal Design is important because our current design standards for housing do not address the design needs of more than one third of our population.  Too often the designers of homes allow the built environment to define the capabilities of the resident.  Universal Design allows for our antiquated architecture to be defined by both our changing human needs and abilities.

Principles Of Universal Design

     There are seven criteria or principles which must be met to be considered a universal design no matter which area of the home you are referring to. Any design must be equally useful to everyone, have flexibility in it's usefulness, be simple and intuitive, be perceived by everyone, have a tolerance for error, require little physical effort, and it must maintain an adequate area for approach and use. Any complexity or discriminating attribute to a design will doom it in terms of  being considered universal in nature. However what better way can you improve on a home's total visitability by everyone? Universal Design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.

 

ADA Compatible Kitchen

     Whether you refer to this revolution in housing today as accessible design, inclusive design, or universal design it is all about making a home safe, attractive, and easy to use for all of the inhabitants. It has nothing to do with the age, agility, or status of life for anyone living within the home. The main intent of this way of thinking is to be sure the inhabitants are able to enjoy their home throughout their entire lifetime utilizing the universal design principles which have been designed into their home when it was built. This way aging in place can be accomplished without the expense and hassle of having to make periodic changes to the home to meet a person's ever changing physical needs. You can plan for all stages of your life cycle with some fore thought which, once discovered, you find is just common sense. Even if you are in perfect health you can be disrupted by a minor mishap. A more serious injury can change things forever when you no longer have all your abilities.

     Universal Design principles do not equate to accessibility design even though they both are concerned with ergonomics and human function issues. The ADA guidelines for accessibility were created as a means to help those people with extreme disabilities within our society who are a narrow and specific cross section of the masses. A UD approach broadly takes into account moderate impairments or disabilities, temporary health conditions, and the varying abilities of anyone within a home regardless of their age or size. In other words, an ADA accessible home would be designed for the one person with the disability whereas a UD home is designed for everyone and should be used with any custom tub shower conversion.

     Accessibility should be a concern no matter what your age. If your concerns are not for you, barring any life changing accident, they could concern the accessibility and safety of another generation's independence. As we age, our society is beginning to realize that our homes need to accommodate future life changes. The aging in place phenomena deals with home modifications to existing homes while a universal design home would hardly ever need to address these abrupt issues even though we cannot solve all the future issues for everyone. Everyone ages differently and has their own list of specific needs.

     A sensible checklist for a home concerning Universal Design would include but is not limited to:

1. Limiting stairs while avoiding sunken rooms or multi-story floor plans with raised entrances

2. Automating lighting while controlling groups of lighting throughout the home

3. Including natural lighting through doors, windows, and skylights

4. Using multiple shower heads in the shower with rain, conventional and hand held units

5. Incorporate curbless showers into the design of your bathroom for ease of entering no matter if a wheelchair is ever involved

6. When deciding on your faucets, door handles, or cabinet pulls always pass the closed fist test for operation

7. Use nonslip flooring especially in wet areas using cork or smaller floor tiles which in turn increase the grout lines

8. Create a correct kitchen work area with the shortest distance between the stove, sink, and refrigerator as possible

9. Provide accessible lower storage in base cabinets storing the most used items on pull out shelving or in drawers

10. Lower your upper cabinets to 15" above your 34" universal cabinet top

11. Leave at least 42" between your cabinets when 48" is much better

12. Have multiple height cabinet tops to double as work surfaces for those who are seated or other little helpers in the kitchen

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

Aging in place home modifications are available through T-Square Company in Austin. Each universal design/build situation will be customized to fit your 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.

CAPS 1636580

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

 

 

 

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Universal Design Principles

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Mon, May 21, 2018 @ 16:05 PM

    There are seven criteria which must be met to be considered a universal design no matter which area of the home you are referring to. Any design must be equally useful to everyone, have flexibility in it's usefulness, be simple and intuitive, be perceived by everyone, have a tolerance for error, require little physical effort, and it must maintain an adequate area for approach and use. Any complexity or discriminating attribute to a design will doom it in terms of  being considered universal in nature. However what better way can you improve on a home's total visitability? Universal Design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.

Universal design bathroom

     Whether you refer to this revolution in housing today as accessible design, inclusive design, or universal design it is all about making a home safe, attractive, and easy to use for all of the inhabitants. It has nothing to do with the age, agility, or status of life for anyone living within the home. The main intent of this way of thinking is to be sure the inhabitants are able to enjoy their home throughout their entire lifetime utilizing the universal design principles which have been designed into their home when it was built. This way aging in place can be accomplished without the expense and hassle of having to make periodic changes to the home to meet a person's ever changing physical needs. You can plan for all stages of your life cycle with some fore thought which, once discovered, you find is just common sense. Even if you are in perfect health you can be disrupted by a minor mishap. A more serious injury can change things forever when you no longer have all your abilities.

Principles Of Universal Design

     Universal Design principles do not equate to accessibility design even though they both are concerned with ergonomics and human function issues. The ADA guidelines for accessibility were created as a means to help those people with extreme disabilities within our society who are a narrow and specific cross section of the masses. A UD approach broadly takes into account moderate impairments or disabilities, temporary health conditions, and the varying abilities of anyone within a home regardless of their age or size. In other words, an ADA accessible home would be designed for the one person with the disability whereas a UD home is designed for everyone and should be used with any custom tub shower conversion.

     Accessibility should be a concern no matter what your age. If your concerns are not for you, barring any life changing accident, they could concern the accessibility and safety of another generation's independence. As we age, our society is beginning to realize that our homes need to accommodate future life changes. The aging in place phenomena deals with home modifications to existing homes while a universal design home would hardly ever need to address these abrupt issues even though we cannot solve all the future issues for everyone. Everyone ages differently and has their own list of specific needs.

     A sensible checklist for a home concerning Universal Design would include but is not limited to:

1. Limiting stairs while avoiding sunken rooms or multi-story floor plans with raised entrances

2. Automating lighting while controlling groups of lighting throughout the home

3. Including natural lighting through doors, windows, and skylights

4. Using multiple shower heads in the shower with rain, conventional and hand held units

5. Incorporate curbless showers into the design of your bathroom for ease of entering no matter if a wheelchair is ever involved

6. When deciding on your faucets, door handles, or cabinet pulls always pass the closed fist test for operation

7. Use nonslip flooring especially in wet areas using cork or smaller floor tiles which in turn increase the grout lines

8. Create a correct kitchen work area with the shortest distance between the stove, sink, and refrigerator as possible

9. Provide accessible lower storage in base cabinets storing the most used items on pull out shelving or in drawers

10. Lower your upper cabinets to 15" above your 34" universal cabinet top

11. Leave at least 42" between your cabinets when 48" is much better

12. Have multiple height cabinet tops to double as work surfaces for those who are seated or other little helpers in the kitchen

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

Aging in place home modifications are available through T-Square Company in Austin. Each universal design/build situation will be customized to fit your 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.

CAPS 1636580

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

 

 

 

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Universal Design Kitchen Ideas

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Fri, May 18, 2018 @ 19:05 PM

     Universal Design does not equate to accessibility design even though they both are concerned with ergonomics and human function issues. The ADA guidelines for accessibility were created as a means to help those people with extreme disabilities within our society who are a narrow and specific cross section of the masses. A UD approach broadly takes into account moderate impairments or disabilities, temporary health conditions, and the varying abilities of anyone within a home regardless of their age or size. In other words, an ADA accessible home would be designed specifically for the one person with the disability whereas a UD home is designed for everyone.

Universal Design Kitchen Ideas

     No matter how old you are you should periodically evaluate your residence to determine whether it suits you not just for the present but the future. Your home assessments will be rethought every time your living situation changes. Whether childproofing for a newborn, making a home more accessible following a sickness or unfortunate accident to someone in the family, or making a toilet area safer for an aging residing parent, there will be an immediate evolution to your primary domicile. These same life span design features are even more important if you believe you're past the age of wanting to move and are relishing the thought of aging in your own home, no matter what physical limitations you might later develop.  Incorporating smart aging design concepts through universal design build ideas throughout a home will attract a larger group of buyers when you decide to finally sell your home. Everyone has special needs and there is no one size fits all solutions using universal design. A twenty five year old homeowner with a bad back is really not similar in needs to his or her aging eighty year old grandmother, although they both need added accessibility only in different but similar ways.

Kitchen Remodeling

     Kitchens have evolved because fewer cabinets are needed within the more open designs using Universal Design techniques.  Fewer wall cabinets are needed because of personal reach limitations. For those that are used, they can be installed at 14" above the base cabinet work top instead of the standard 18" spacing.  Dishes can be stored in specialized pull out shelves. Pull down upper shelving is available but can be very costly. The cabinet top is now lowered by two inches and installed at a universal 34" height.  This makes a net 6 inch lower installation height for the bottom of the wall cabinet from the floor.  All types of cabinet inserts like pull out shelves, lazy Susans, and specialized drawers are now available for installation in both base and wall cabinets to increase accessibility.  These devices will certainly help solve the reach problem.  Base cabinet kick spaces can be raised to 9" and deepened to 6" instead of the standard 4" to accommodate future wheelchair access.  Recessed knee spaces can be incorporated into the design for roll under access at the sink, prep area, and cook top. A shallow cabinet with doors can be creatively installed in these areas disguising their intended future use.

     The lack of bending motion and ever decreasing reach distances is changing the way we purchase and install appliances at comfortable heights. Placing dishwashers higher by a few inches to limit bending has become a reachable fad and the new height is changing the old look of our kitchens.  Refrigerator or freezer drawers, dishwasher drawers, and double ovens that are no longer stacked represent just a few changes within the present day appliance marketplace.  The ovens can be installed at the height the homeowner finds most comfortable. Cooking ranges and cook tops with the controls located on the front represent another metamorphosis helping with reach problems.  Microwaves can be installed onto the now lowered 34" height counter top or preferably within the upper area of the lowered base cabinet according to the consumers need for adequate reach. The refrigerator should be a cabinet depth french door model giving access to the lower freezer and maybe an additional refrigerated drawer. Raising the dishwasher up at least 6" can be very helpful for access if you choose to use a conventional model.

      Fewer doors represents a change in the cabinet market.  The new open look lets homeowners access what is stored within the cabinet without an open door blocking their clear path for approach.  No matter in what manner the doors are hung they always interfere with accessibility if they swing.  They will become architectural barriers within the home at some time. Sliding doors are an option but can become a problem if dexterity and coordination ever become an issue. The open cabinet look is seen in both the bath and kitchen as the open shelves make it easier to find the items you need. If a more structural look is needed then glass fronts can be installed. The glass doors maintain the feeling of openness but with order.

     The space between cabinets in a "C" or "U" configuration should be between 42-48" for wheelchair access. A 60" turning radius should be observed for a wheelchair turn if entirely possible within a larger kitchen floor plan. Cabinet hardware should be considered for the future. Small knobs can be a problem for people with arthritis. Graspable "D" handles are a better option. The larger the pulls the easier it is for everyone to use.

Principles Of Universal Design

     Cabinet tops at varying heights should be installed using universal design. A lower island top can become a work surface for someone seated or a six year old helper. This area can be sectioned off using a higher 42" top used for bar stools. Cabinet top materials must have eased edges at the angles to prevent injury. The choice of materials you use for your cabinet top must be both durable and easy to maintain.

      Finding a contractor familiar with the guidelines of accessibility can be quite difficult. Be sure to check out the credentials of any potential bidders you contact.  Be sure they understand that the alterations you are seeking are for wheel chair 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.

     Aging in place services are available through T-Square Company. We are a certified aging in place 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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Bathroom Remodeling Austin

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Jan 24, 2018 @ 17:01 PM

     Look at the different types of housing represented throughout Austin and the surrounding areas.  Smaller homes, cottages, sprawling historical townhomes 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 alongwith 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 bypassing 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.

Principles Of Universal Design

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

bathroom remodel Austin

Bathroom Remodels

     When you go about rearranging your current bathroom, 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 not relying on gravity is easier than moving drains especially when they go into the main drainage system that resides underneath the finished floor.

     If you're current situation is cramped but you already have a double vanity, you might gain space for a new shower expansion by either shortening the vanity while keeping the two sinks or by going with one single sink located in the middle of a shorter vanity.  This can be accomplished by capping off one sink drain completely and/or deleting the water supply stops.  If your toilet is located between the vanity and tub then shortening the vanity is all for naught.  You can move the toilet over but this means breaking out the floor to change the toilet plumbing floor flange plus the water supply.  Be careful as this alteration can be costly and should only be done to allow certain specific situations to evolve.

     In general, bathroom sizes are usually dictated in some respect by the length of the tub which in most cases is five to six feet long.  This is evidenced by a tub that has been installed opposite the entry wall to the bath producing a wall to wall tub situation.  In this configuration the toilet and vanity are generally placed on one of the walls that are perpendicular to the length of the tub. Here is a great starting point to gain space for a larger custom walk in shower to replace the tub you never use.  But if you are fortunate to have both wall lengths exceed the five or six feet norm then space is not an issue and you can proceed with ease.  Just choose your finishes wisely and keep all choices within your budget.

     Certainly there are many upgrades available when planning a bathroom transformation.  The replacement of the tub with a new walk in shower can create a bold  look but will run you around $12,000.  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.

     Fine cabinetry is a must for any bathroom makeover.  As for the vanity, an upgraded cabinet top like quartz installed at the correct height for you is a personal must for function. Do you require a single or double sink configuration?  Under mount or drop in sinks? The vanity should have adequately accessible storage satisfying your needs.  Incorporating  easy operating and properly sized drawers and pull out shelves within the design can be very beneficial.  Linen, medicine, and "over the potty" wall cabinets need to be well thought out. The correct species of wood used for the construction of your fine cabinetry and the style of you cabinet doors are two very important factors to consider.  Remember, you do have a choice and you are going to be looking at these new cabinets for a while.

     Bathroom plumbing fixture choices are numerous to say the least.  Always select reputable companies offering the best warranties especially when considering finishes for the faucets or fixtures installed in the project.   Larger walk in shower designs should have seamless fiberglass liners or state of the art shower bases to avoid leaks if the house ever shifts.  Toilets today come in array of choices. Don't just consider the shape of the new toilet but the height which is also important for universal design. Soft closing or night lit toilet seats are also an option.

     Colors for bathrooms today are natural and earthy creating a calming effect.  Accents of color reflected from the tiles, paint, fixtures, and woodwork are used to make things a little more interesting compared to a room's overall vanilla tones within your design.  Help is just a phone call away but be sure the one who answers has the qualified experience you need for completing your new bathroom transformation.   If you're uncertain about how to proceed with any bathroom remodeling project always rely on a local and trusted building professional.  Sometimes spending a little more money for experienced help with design and construction techniques can save you a lot during the construction process.

     The National Association of Home Builders, in partnership with the AARP and Home Innovation Research Labs, created the CAPS program, which includes training and education on the technical, business management and customer service skills essential to compete in the fastest growing segment of the residential remodeling industry--home modifications for aging in place.  David L. Traut, CAPS the owner of T-Square Company in Austin, Texas is one of the select group of professionals nationwide to earn the Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) designation, identifying him as a home remodeler and builder with the skills and knowledge necessary to remodel or modify a home to meet the unique needs of the older population, disabled owners or their visitors.  Call us at 512-444-0097 to see how we can help you design your bath for the future using Universal Design techniques.  We specialize in any handicap accessible bathroom remodel.

      Young Austin homeowners are always looking for ways to bring their existing older home's bathrooms up to date.  Bathroom remodels for these smaller baths can incorporate a number of the items listed above in moderation to fit any budget.  Using beautiful ceramic tiles in an interesting design, updating plumbing fixtures, and the use of neutral colors can create a small bathroom with a "wow" factor. It is quite possible to produce a small but charmingly remodled bath on a budget.  A project that is affordable plus the fact that it will add resale value to your home cannot be denied.  Check out all the options before committing to a plan and then stick to it.  Always hire a local and professional builder.  Remember that producing change orders because no one thought of "that" can be expensive. Create the style for your Austin bathroom remodel that best gives you a feeling of pride! 

 Bathroom Remodeling Austin

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How To Remodel An Austin Kitchen

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Tue, Dec 19, 2017 @ 11:12 AM

     Kitchen remodeling in Austin, Texas like most other cities include many of the same aspects. So what should you consider? Have you decided you need more room? More storage? Are you looking for a complete kitchen makeover? Will you add on to your home?  How will you determine what's needed without some soul searching and research? All are great questions when considering such a costly investment in your home. At least we know that remodeling of both the kitchen and bath reap the most benefits and ROI when it comes time to sell your home. Try and fill in the answers to the questions below for your home using the following steps which will aid you in defining your new kitchen remodel.

Austin Kitchen Remodel

Kitchen Remodeling

     Determine what is needed by first identifying your priorities. Kitchen remodeling ideas are endless.  Consider how you use your kitchen as it pertains to your personal family lifestyle. Consult with everyone you know who has endured a kitchen remodel and pick up on the pointers they recognized in hind sight. Collect a series of favorite photographs and ideas from any and all media collections to construct a scrapbook of sorts.  Your collection will need to be narrowed in scope to fit your situation before the final design is agreed upon for your Austin kitchen remodel.

Principles Of Universal Design

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

     Start deciding on your budget and determine what the scope of work will be for your kitchen remodel. These variables can only be solved with accurate planning. It is far easier and least costly to perform this step on paper rather than with change orders issued throughout the construction phase. Determine what you would like to see in your new kitchen but most importantly what you can reasonably afford.

     Know that a kitchen remodel is not a DIY situation and that you will need to consult with a residential remodeling professional at some point. Be sure to choose a local qualified kitchen remodeling contractor whose personality and qualifications are agreeable with you personally.  Check out the reviews on the company to find out how clients have responded to their experiences. You are about to undertake a very important short term relationship in your life with someone you may know by reputation only.  The relationship needs to be comfortable and free flowing thus enabling the contractor's creativity level to be at it's highest during your remodeling project. Look at it as a partnership between your needs and the remodeling contractor's abilities.  The use of many finishes must be accommodated for.  His professional remodeling experience will include the capacity to identify many construction limitations and hazards.  These variables underlie the major pitfalls that can be possibly avoided while enabling a remodeling design to come to reality.  Don't forget that you get what you pay for and it certainly isn't about the lowest bid but the remodeling company's integrity and knowledge.  Some CAPS certified remodeling companies have the experience and education to assist you in accomplishing remodeling upgrades that include accessibility or disability issues.  It is important that the job flows between the various trades involved to produce a better final outcome.  This too is a reflection on his remodeling experience for which there is no substitute.

     Concentrate on the kitchen's layout and space planning rather than the way everything will look at the end. Use any means you can think of to mimic the new layout on the floor so you can be sure of the new footprint. Decide on which appliances and fixtures you want to use then figure out where they will be installed. Address any special storage needs that are needed.  Designers and architects can be very helpful at this phase of the design if you cannot visualize the end result. Working with an experienced contractor might also save you on soft costs for the project and enable you to put your money toward the hard construction costs of the project while relying on his experience.

     It's time to determine your finishes and what will stand out most at the end of the project. Make a decision on the type and style of cabinetry you desire and the materials you want for your counter top work surface along with the adjoining back splash material. Settle on a specific sink and fixture that accomplishes your work habits. Don't forget about the island and the function of it's sink. Decide on any specific lighting along with it's location and the appliances you've made a decision on through your research. Pick out your flooring and any special hardware you desire.

     Execute the construction documents needed for obtaining a city construction permit. These will include floor plans, engineering drawings if required, any electrical, mechanical, or plumbing changes, and all research concerning your home's listing with the city.

     Be on board with your professional remodeling company of choice at this time and determine the costs of any subcontractor aspects to finalize the expenditures for your project. Be sure everything is within or below your budget. Remember that kitchen remodeling in Austin, Texas isn't new construction progressing fairly seamlessly from A to Z and there will more than likely be additional charges you hadn't planned for in the beginning.

     Once the construction is ready to begin, finalize all contracts and logistical considerations. If you are going to try and live in the home during construction then you need to plan for everything to be disrupted. Clean out your cabinets and discard the things you haven't used in years.  Decide what needs to be put in storage.  What is the concern for dust protection or a family member's allergies? Setting up a temporary kitchen somewhere else in the home will help during your usual daily grind and don't forget to relocate the refrigerator and coffee pot. If you are fortunate enough to move out then do so to cause less strain on your family and the workers. If you're moving out is there adequate daily access to your home for the workers? What about security?

     As the construction comes to an end begin compiling a punch list for the contractor to address once the project is significantly finished. Things will happen like scratches and scrapes but everything is fixable at the right time.  Do not interrupt the daily work schedule for everyone trying to finish your project unless the matter is critical to the project. Weekly meetings with your residential remodeling contractor should avoid any such problems keeping you up to speed with your project. Everyone involved in your project is a professional working for the remodeling company you chose and can very well take care of any minor touch ups after the main scope of work is complete.

Fine Cabinetry

Kitchen Remodel Austin

 

Kitchen Remodeling Austin

ADA Kitchen Cabinetry

   Whatever your situation please rely on the experiences of a local building professional.  Check out their credentials and references over merely price checks against other bidders.  Don't make the mistake of letting a cabinet making subcontractor play the part of a general contractor because his knowledge will be limited to that of the cabinets and not much else.  You get what you pay for with proper planning.  Call T-Square Company today at 512-444-0097 today for a complete design/build experience for the new kitchen you've longed for.

 

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Kitchen Makeovers Austin, Texas

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Tue, Oct 31, 2017 @ 13:10 PM

     For an average size kitchen of between 200-300 square feet you can budget a minimum of $25,000 for your Austin kitchen makeover.  There are no larger DIY kitchen remodeling projects.  Once the demolition is accomplished the inexperienced homeowner should consider his part in the remodel to be complete.  It's time to get the building professionals involved to make sure that the resulting kitchen upgrade functions correctly.  The correct electrical wiring with the new outlets and appliance rough ins should be installed within the kitchen's frame work.  Dedicated circuits per the national electrical code should be wired by a qualified electrician.  This will insure that two appliances can be running simultaneously without tripping any circuit breakers.  The electrician will also install the needed GFI  circuits that keep you safe around any wet areas.  It's also a great time to install all the upgraded lighting fixtures with the new switching they require.  Skimping on the electrical budget can cause many problems including an electrical fire.

Kitchen Remodeling

Kitchen Makeovers Austin, Texas

Principles Of Universal Design

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

     To begin with, kitchen upgrades and bathroom remodels return the most money at resale on the initial investment of the remodeling project.  National averages show that kitchen remodels recoup around 70% of the costs of the upgrade at the time of resale of the home.  However, your Austin kitchen remodel costs should never exceed 15% of the total value of your home.  Here is where you need to get your thinking cap on and plan for an affordable budget that is within your means.  Your material choices are very important and if you need to stay mid-level to fit the budget then do so.  The labor involved for the project will be around 1.6 times the cost of the materials used.  The total budget should allow $150 per square foot for your kitchen upgrade project.

     Austin kitchen remodeling will need to produce a better service or work triangle between the sink, refrigerator, and stove placement.  The shorter the sum of the triangle legs the more efficient the layout.  Twelve to fifteen feet is an optimum size for efficiency.  Islands can also be incorporated into the design to increase your functionality.  The prep sink within the island can become it's own focal point of the work triangle reducing the duties of the main kitchen sink.  The orientation of the island toward the work triangle is very important making sure traffic can still flow freely within the designated triangle. Islands can contain all sorts of special storage areas.  Mixer lifts, produce storage drawers, wine storage, and dough board pullouts are just a few of the many useful aspects that can be incorporated into the island.

     Plumbing upgrades need to be addressed and the use of a master plumber will make sure that everything functions correctly.  Moving a sink over a small amount can add an additional $2,500 to your project's hard costs as it affects both the plumbing and the floor.  The plumber can be sure that you have adequate water volume for any additional fixtures that will be involved.  The plumber will be involved through the setting of the sink, fixtures, and all appliances requiring water to operate.  When choosing a kitchen sink, whether it is a drop in model or an under mount,  you can never go wrong with a good grade of stainless steel.  These sinks never go out of style and you can outfit them with any color and kind of faucet that you see fit.

     Placing the dishwasher beside the sink and raising it up slightly obove the floor makes reaching in to load or empty the machine a more comfortable activity.  Placing the spice drawers or shelves next to the cook stove also makes good sense.  Storage of pots and pans must also be placed within the vicinity of the stove.  Cooking and eating utensils must have their place between the stove and sink according to use.  Task lighting is a concern making sure there is plenty of light to function properly as well as placing adequate light used over the main kitchen sink.  Roll out trash bins or pull out shelves are a consideration during the layout process.  Let's not forget ADA remodeling concepts for comfort if you are preparing for the future. 

     Moving on to the fine cabinetry for the project, you are limited by what you have budgeted for.  Traditional face frame medium grade oak or maple cabinets will cost you around $160 per linear foot.  Any exotic wood species are even more costly. Special cabinet amenities like pullouts beyond the basic drawer and shelf storage will add more to the total cabinet price.   If the intent of your upgrade is to increase your accessibility via an ADA remodel as in wheelchair accessible,  the new cabinets will most likely have to be custom made.  These alterations should be done by a qualified residential construction contractor who is accomplished in dealing with the local ADA codes. 

      A traditional home builder has never truly considered the special needs of the disabled or aging within any home design. Unfortunately the design emphasis is always put on aesthetics and takes for granted everyone's mobility.  There certainly are no guarantees or clauses within any home's sales contract that will prevent our future personal life experiences from  introducing us to at least a temporary disability.  Accidents will always happen and you could find yourself having to utilize a wheelchair or walker to facilitate your independence for mobility.  Limitations in our mobility or constantly changing needs experienced by both the disabled and the elderly have sprung a new dimension in construction known as ADA remodeling to accomplish increased accessibility.  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 for home remodeling is catching on nation wide 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. An evolution of new products used for disability home modifications is making those homes more accessible and has finally come about in the remodeling industry.  These new advances in accessible home remodeling in Austin not only keep the living environments safer but will not compromise the home's aesthetics.

      Kitchens have evolved because fewer cabinets are needed within the more open designs.  Fewer wall cabinets are needed because of personal reach limitations. For those that are used, they can be installed at 14" above the base cabinet work top instead of the standard 18" spacing.  The cabinet top is now lowered by two inches and installed at a universal 34" height.  This makes a net 6 inch lower installation height for the bottom of the wall cabinet.  All types of cabinet inserts like pull out shelves and specialized drawers are now available for installation in both base and wall cabinets.  These devices will certainly help solve the reach problem.  Base cabinet kick spaces can be raised to 9" and deepened instead of the standard 4" to accommodate wheelchair access.  Knee spaces can be incorporated into the design for roll under access at the sink, prep area, and cook top.

      The lack of bending motion and decreasing reach distances is changing the way we purchase and install appliances at comfortable heights. Placing dishwashers higher by a few inches to limit bending has become a reachable fad and the new height is changing the old look of our kitchens.   Refrigerator drawers, dishwasher drawers, and double ovens that are no longer stacked are just a few changes within the present day appliance marketplace.  Cooking ranges with the controls located on the front represents another metamorphosis helping with reach problems.  Microwaves can be installed on the now lowered 34" height counter top or within the lowered base cabinet according to the consumers need for adequate reach.

      The lack of doors represents a change in the cabinet market.  The new open look lets homeowners access what is stored within the cabinet without an open door blocking their clear path for approach.  No matter in what manner the doors are hung they always interfere with accessibility.  The open cabinet look is seen in both the bath and kitchen.

 

ADA Kitchen Cabinetry

      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 and ADA accessibility in Austin, Texas.  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.

      Finding a contractor familiar with the guidelines of accessibility can be quite difficult. Be sure to check out the credentials of any potential bidders you contact.  Be sure they understand that the alterations you are seeking are for wheel chair 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.

     Aging in place services are available through T-Square Company. We are a certified aging in place 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

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Austin Kitchen Remodeling

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Thu, Sep 07, 2017 @ 14:09 PM

     If you have been considering an Austin kitchen remodeling project there are a few things you should take into consideration.  Kitchen upgrades in Austin, Texas can take on many looks and facets.  The scope of work you choose to accomplish this task should effectively solve your problems and most importantly, your needs as the home owner-- for now and for the future.  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.  Aging in place and 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 bathroom.  A CAPS professional in the remodeling industry can help with solutions in solving these issues while performing design/build home modifications.  T-Square Company is a nationally registered CAPS remodeling contractor.

Principles Of Universal Design

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

    When you are replacing your old cabinets during a kitchen remodel with some new fine cabinetry or perhaps you are just needing an updated work surface there are a few choices that need to be considered before making your final decision.  Plastic laminates, solid surface material, granite, quartz, stainless steel, wood, and concrete are the most popular choices today when considering new or replacement counter tops for a fine kitchen upgrade.  Each surface has it's own set of pros and cons to take under advisement before a conclusion is reached making sure your selection blends with your lifestyle.  Remember that any samples of materials you see are only small representations of any larger piece when choosing products.  Furthermore protection from heat sources and cutting boards should always be used no matter which top you choose.   Kitchen upgrades and bathroom remodels return the most money at resale on the initial investment of the remodeling project.  National averages show that kitchen remodels recoup around 70% of the costs of the upgrade at the time of resale.  However, your kitchen remodeling costs should never exceed 15% of the total value of your home.  Here is where you need to get your thinking cap on and plan for an affordable budget that is within your means.  Your material choices are very important and if you need to stay mid-level to remain in your budget then do so.  The labor involved for the project will be around 1.6 times the cost of the materials used.  The total budget should allow $100 per square foot for your kitchen upgrade project at a minimum. 

Austin kitchen remodel

     Kitchen remodeling in Austin, Texas is no different than anywhere else.  Basically, for an average size kitchen of between 200-300 square feet you can budget a minimum of $30,000 for your kitchen upgrade.  There are very few DIY kitchen remodeling projects.  Once the demolition is accomplished the inexperienced homeowner should consider his part in the remodel to be complete.  It's time to get the building professionals involved to make sure that the resulting kitchen upgrade functions correctly.  The correct electrical wiring with the new outlets and appliance rough ins should be installed within the kitchen's frame work.  Dedicated circuits per the national electrical code should be wired by a qualified electrician.  This will insure that two appliances can be running simultaneously without tripping any circuit breakers.  The electrician will also install the needed GFI  protected circuits that keep you safe around any wet areas.  It's also a great time to install all the upgraded lighting fixtures with the new switching they require.  Skimping on the electrical budget can cause many problems including an electrical fire.

Kitchen Remodeling

     Plumbing upgrades need to be addressed and the use of a master plumber will make sure that everything functions correctly.  Moving a sink over a small amount can add an additional $2,500 to your project's hard costs as it affects both the plumbing and the floor.  The plumber can be sure that you have adequate water volume for any additional fixtures that will be involved.  The plumber will be involved through the setting of the sink, fixtures, and all appliances requiring water to operate.  When choosing a kitchen sink, whether it is a drop in model or an under mount,  you can never go wrong with a good grade of stainless steel.  These sinks never go out of style and you can outfit them with any color and kind of faucet finish that you see fit.

    Any kitchen remodeling ideas will need to include a better service or work triangle between the sink, refrigerator, and stove placement when remodeling an Austin kitchen.  The shorter the sum of the triangle legs the more efficient the layout.  Twelve to fifteen feet is an optimum size for efficiency.  Islands can also be incorporated into the design to increase your functionality.  The prep sink within the island can become it's own focal point of the work triangle reducing the duties of the main kitchen sink.  The orientation of the island toward the work triangle is very important making sure traffic can still flow freely within the designated triangle. Islands can contain all sorts of special storage areas.  Mixer lifts, produce storage drawers, pullout shelving, divided drawers, wine storage, and dough board pullouts are just a few of the many useful aspects that can be incorporated into the island.

    Moving on to the fine cabinetry for the project, you are limited by what you have budgeted for.  Traditional face frame medium grade oak or maple cabinets will cost you around $160 per linear foot.  Any exotic wood species are even more costly. Special cabinet amenities like pullouts beyond the basic drawer and shelf storage will add more to the total cabinet price.   If the intent of your upgrade is to increase your accessibility via an ADA remodel as in wheelchair accessible,  the new cabinets will most likely have to be custom made.  These alterations should be done by a qualified residential construction contractor who is accomplished in dealing with the local ADA codes. 

     Frameless European full overlay style cabinets are a type of fine cabinetry having either a painted or stained wooden exterior or one with the exterior  totally covered on all exposed surfaces in plastic laminate per your choice of color, pattern, or manufacturer.  The laminated exterior application provides a much cleaner and more modern look for easier maintenance.  The doors and drawer fronts on all European cabinetry are flat having no crevices to conceal grease and grime and directly overlay the cabinet box. Each door is mounted on the inside of the box using fully concealed and adjustable two part hinges.  The frameless European style is represented only by the cabinet carcass or box, composed of the walls, bottom and top (if needed), and back without any face frame components yielding only a 3/4" outward appearance for all the stiles and rails.  This European style which eliminates the usual two inch face frame gives full access to any stored contents with more usable room.  These frameless cabinets limit the amount of exposed stile and rail surface area between the door and drawer faces.  The exposed cabinet area is normally limited to 1/8-3/16 of an inch.  This holds true between any two finished faces coming together presenting a half overlay situation on either a horizontal rail or vertical stile; hence, exhibiting the full overlay method.  This clearance is also typical at the juncture toward the outside walls beside the cabinets. One other characteristic of the European design lies in the adjustable shelving.  A series of 5mm holes are repeatedly drilled in 32mm increments (approximately 1 1/4") continuously at the front and back of all vertical cabinet pieces receiving shelves.  This configuration allows for shelf supports to be inserted to adjust the shelves.  In time, the shelf supporting "dogs" might wear out the holes and become loose causing the shelves to collapse.  The retro use of metal pilasters will remedy the problem.

     Following cabinet installation,  there is no room for the application of wall trim in the European method.   Spaces against the walls should be caulked in place to seal the carcass to the walls.  If the gap toward  the side walls is greater than 1/8 inch preventing a reasonable caulk joint, a laminated filler must be installed.  This new filler should be cut and sanded to fit the taper tightly filling the gap. As mentioned above, the narrow but typical gap from the side of the cabinets to the wall can and will be a problem when European style cabinets are specified for a remodel. Don't forget that the 1/8th inch spacing rule means that no passage door or window trim can be any closer to the new cabinet faces than the cabinet drawers themselves are deep.  Any such trim will always be 1/2 inch or more in thickness thus impedes cabinet function.  By practicing this rule of thumb you will allow the drawers to fully extend. Cabinet doors will also have a clear swing radius and not be wedged against any perpendicular entry door trim.  If the above needed clearance from the cabinet faces to the door trim is nonexistent the entry doors themselves must be relocated.  This aspect will include any wiring for light switches or outlets and should be done by a qualified electrician.

     There are many textured nonporous plastic laminates available today that will help keep your project costs in the black for the cabinet top.  However, the premium grades of plastic laminate counter tops will still cost upwards of $45 per linear foot. Common grades of granite run around $100 per square foot including prep work like edges and sink cut outs and these granite choices can be purchased at square foot pricing. Premium or exotic granite tops must be purchased at slab pricing meaning you will end up with the remnants you don't use to complete the project. Quartz tops are somewhere in the middle and now some are becoming common stock materials in the storage yards available at square foot pricing. Back splashes can either match or be totally different from the surface of the counter top.  Poured in place concrete tops are available as well as stainless steel or solid surface materials. Back splashes using tile patterns and designs must blend well with any of the chosen counter top surface choices. 

    Whatever your situation rely on the experiences of a local building professional.  Check out their credentials and references over merely price checks against other bidders.  Don't make the mistake of letting a cabinet maker subcontractor or tile installer play the part of a general contractor because his knowledge will be limited to that of the cabinets or tile and not the whole project.  You get what you pay for with proper planning and by using an experienced and qualified contractor.

 ADA Kitchen Cabinetry

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