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, Texas Wheelchair Accessible Bathroom

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Thu, Sep 12, 2019 @ 14:09 PM

    Designing for specific physical conditions during a handicap retrofit will lessen the impact of say arthritis, restricted mobility, or loss of vision by using combinations of products, concepts, and techniques available today. Working as a team, a trained CAPS specialist along with any family caretakers or therapists is able to identify the day to day problems weighing on those with health limitations. If you are considering an aging in place remodel for your home don't just contact any local remodeler in your area and expect a satisfactory accessible home modification.  A professional design/build accessibility project can only be created for your specific needs by a qualified home remodeler having a nationally accepted CAPS (Certified Aging In Place Specialist) certification.  This credential is backed by the NAHB.  Only a CAPS  home remodeler possesses the specific knowledge that will insure a successful outcome for your accessibility or aging in place project and what's more, keep you in your home longer.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

 

handicap bathroom design in Austin

 Tub To Shower Conversions

    Disability is a complex phenomenon representing an interaction between one's physical impairments, the activities they need to perform, and the architectural barriers within the space in which this situation occurs.  The terminology and jargon used for disabilities evolves regularly whereas, "handicapped" is no longer acceptable.  It is no longer merely a description of intellectual or physical impairments.  Each individual with similar impairments describes his or her limitations differently.  The blind don't experience their world the same as a person with deafness and so on. Physically challenged has become the more socially accepted description of a person with an impairment.

    Physical limitations affect many more people than the daily users of walkers and wheelchairs.  Many members of our life experienced or elder society have significant problems in dealing with their home environment.  Today's conventional building standards conflict with most people's accessibility when you consider our created architectural barriers concerning cabinetry and door opening widths, individual strength, range of motion, movement,  manual dexterity, balance, and coordination .  Once the demands of our built environment exceed their capacities we become excluded from a room or even the entire home.  This has brought about the realization that handicap bathrooms are needed.  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 accessibility design.

    Wheelchair accessible bathrooms today contain stylish vanities set at a universal height of 34 inches with clear knee spaces.  Plan on 27 inches of vertical clearance for a wheelchair. The sink faucets must be easily controlled by either wrist handles or levers. The faucets can be fitted on the side of the sink to make them easier to reach. Or install infra-red faucets that detect motion. Hang the mirror low enough for a seated person to see themselves, and tip the top of the mirror out. bathroom vanities with universal height cabinet tops and open knee spaces are taking over the marketplace.  These new residential vanities do not need to look institutional 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.

    The threshold is the most dangerous component for any ADA compatible shower. Not only is it impossible to overcome in a wheelchair but it isn't safe for those who are vision impaired or those with mobility issues. Curbless roll in showers that are 5 feet wide and 3 feet deep having a 36" clear entrance are advised for everyone.  Low threshold shower bases with add on ramps can solve the shower entry problem when the floor cannot be lowered to form a true contoured roll in slope. The accessible shower should contain at least a shower wand on a sliding bar for varying heights of use along with a regular shower head and control if desired.  Installing fixtures with a scald guard or lowering the temperature at the water heater is a must to prevent burns.  Install the slider bar for the hand held shower hose and head 4 feet off the floor so that the head can slide up to 6 feet high. Always use a shower valve installed below or at 48" from the finished floor 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. Always choose fixtures and fittings that are easy to control with a single hand motion or a closed fist. Motion controlled sensor fixtures are also a possibility when specifying fixtures and finishes. Built-in shower seats provide comfort and safety but can sometimes get in the way of accessibility. Folding seats are an option in the shower and are useful if caretakers are ever involved or a shower chair is ever required. These seats are much safer than a free standing shower seat which can collapse and cause a fall. Recessed shampoo niches located 48" above the floor help keep shower floors or seats free of trip hazards. Grab bars around the bath and especially on each wall in the shower installed at 34-36" above the floor should be used. 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. Non slip floor covering should always be considered with a 0.5 friction coefficient rating. Enclosures can vary by the accessibility needed by all and can be everything from an out-swinging frame-less door to just a simple glass splash panel or even a curtain on a curved rod.  Walk in tubs are also a consideration but some people get chilled while the tub is draining.

Handicap Accessibility

     Austin handicap remodeling,  aging in place home modifications, and ADA Accessible kitchens are available through T-Square Company. Each design/build handicap accessibility 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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Home Remodeling And Additions

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Fri, Aug 30, 2019 @ 13:08 PM

    If you believe you are located at the perfect address, and you have a new member in your family or are simply a multi-generational family of today taking care of a parent and you find yourself short on living space then give us a call. Inevitably at one time or another all homeowners envision potential improvements to an existing home that can significantly enhance their living experience. Regardless of the reason you require home remodeling or an addition we can help you to transform the functionality of your existing living situation or add additional living space to suit your present family's needs. Fall in love with your home again while the professional remodeling contractor's experience helps guide you through changes to your existing home which better fit your daily lifestyle.

Principles Of Universal Design

Austin Home Remodeling Contractors/Home Additions

Austin Remodeling

The Finished Product From Above Picture

Home Remodeling Austin, Texas

 

Aging In Place Home Modifications

Bathroom Kitchen Remodels

    It's time to find yourself either a qualified architectural firm and proceed with the endless task of interviewing residential remodeling contractor or a local design/build construction company with in house design capabilities that can build what is designed.  The latter situation is usually your best shot at getting what you basically need to solve your living situation problems allowing you to cut out the beyond budget frills.  You will also save on the soft costs of your construction project that have nothing to do with the structural building process itself.  Many local residential contractors are quite capable of pushing out a wall in your home or putting a top on a new structure.  This capability is based on both their experience and knowledge of all the building trades, especially the framing aspect that will certainly be involved.  Actual experience in this particular facet of the project could prove to be very helpful for visualizing the construction and it's possibilities.  Has this contractor ever done this kind of project before?  Does he himself have skilled experience or does he appear to be a drive by limited contractor at the mercy of his subcontractor's capabilities?  Any depth of design is totally based on experience.  You will need to completely check out the contractor's references.  Don't be taken in by paid contractor listings  and referral sights that promise you successful and competent businesses with free background checks.  They were listed there for one and only one reason, somebody paid for the listing fee.  Membership to national associations like NARI reflect only a self paid fee but says nothing about the contractor's experience and creativity.  That only comes from past customer's testimonials that you can fact check through the local BBB, Yelp, or Houzz.

    T-Square Company originally came into being as a remodeling company driven with the purpose to maximize the potential of existing homes.  When updating elements of functionality, style, efficiency, accessibility, and comfort, a home can be brought into your present day needs and desires of it's occupants. We approach complete home remodeling, renovations, and additions with the same targeted mindset using universal design techniques to build for the future. With our CAPS training, we are able to offer accessible home designs and modifications for our clients with special needs or disabilities.

    If you have contemplated and dreamed of an addition to your home for years and now find it's time to make a decision to move forward let us help you.  Certain changes in your lifestyle may have dictated an expansion.  Your living space has grown more crowded over time with additional family members being added as children, extended family members, or  an elderly family member.  Any and all of these life changing situations can add stress to your daily lifestyle creating the need for additional living space or home improvements in Austin.  As our children grow older they generally require more space and sometimes privacy.  This sparks a need for an additional bedroom space once an aging relative or spouse requiring special care is introduced into the original home's square footage. Privacy can truly become an issue if only to keep everyone happy while underneath the same roof.  Perhaps even private entrances will be required for some of the home's new residents.  These private entries could  be required to begin a new accessible route if there are ADA compatibility issues involved. 

     T-Square Company is a local design/build General Contracting firm registered with the City of Austin, Texas.  We have a competent team of in house craftsmen for your structural job aspects.  They are complemented by a force of long time affiliated subcontractors holding a masters license with the State of Texas. We are certified accessibility experts holding  nationally accredited CAPS and Universal Design (UD) certificates to assist in removing any architectural barriers limiting mobility within your home.  We offer complete home modifications for independent living for our aging in place customers in Austin.  Let us show you how to adapt your home to fit your ever changing accessibility needs.  Perhaps an expansion to a defined living space would solve a changing living situation.  How can this be accomplished without altering your home's basic footprint?  How can you go about this without a costly addition?  Maybe it's time to look under the hood, so to speak, for a solution that is right under your existing homes roof line.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

    How about pushing a certain room's perimeter out into your existing unused attic space to create attic remodeling?  You can expand a small child's bedroom space to create a play or activity room.  Storage needs can be met by taking in part of the attic to create a closet or other additional storage area.  Entertainment areas can be created without taking square footage out of the living space once the equipment is installed beyond the existing inner wall line into the attic space.

    How you accomplish adding this additional square footage can be quite easy if you obtain the advice of a qualified building professional.  Any reputable residential building contractor can give you direction for such a task so that your roof's structural integrity is not put in jeopardy.  You must not under any circumstance interrupt the structural balance of your roof.  Not only could you cause a structural failure of the roof itself but other areas of your home could be affected by this interruption in stability.

   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 for a complete design/build experience for the home remodel or addition you've longed for.

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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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Home Remodeling Austin, Texas

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Thu, Aug 29, 2019 @ 16:08 PM

     When it finally becomes apparent  that your existing home no longer fits the needs of your family,  it's time to reach out for professional help.  Whether you're looking for a local residential remodeling contractor in Austin, Texas to accomplish a kitchen remodel or a construction professional to complete an entire gutting and remodel of your entire home including a home office transformation,  the final accenting finishes most likely will include the use of fine cabinetry. The choice between frameless European and Northern face frame cabinetry styles will highlight practically any design.   Choosing the correct wood species can further add to the richness of the job.  Then there are those needed additions for a growing or multi-generational families that must blend with your home without being noticed.

Principles Of Universal Design

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

Kitchen Remodeling

      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 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 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 $100 per square foot for your kitchen upgrade project.

     Any kitchen remodel 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 but islands can also be incorporated into the design to increase the efficiency.  The prep sink within the island can become it's own focal point of the work triangle displacing 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.

      Living with a dysfunctional bathroom layout reduces the total feeling of relaxation your master bath is capable of providing.   During those much deserved private moments you long for your bathroom's surroundings to provide both luxury and function.  There isn't adequate lighting for the many daily personal duties like applying makeup.   There needs to be adequate ventilation so you don't always feel as though you are housed in a "sweat box" while getting dressed. The outdated plate mirror extending from your vanity top's splash upward toward the drywall furrdown above has never been a design you thank the world of. You have always disliked that box above housing the poorly illuminating fluorescent tube lamps that are concealed by the yellowing plastic diffusing panel.  You are sick and tired of the poor storage facilities inherited when you purchased your home.  The height of the vanity is out of line according to your needs and it is also inadequate for your storage needs.  The existing cabinet layout contains unusable drawers beginning to come off their tracks and the cabinet doors have their own particular issues.  Your cabinets are either too deep to access what they contain or their storage capabilities have been limited by their total improper design.  What were those guys thinking?  What's more the out of fashion ceramic tiles are either partly missing or they are totally the wrong color for the day along with the colors within the rest of the room.  Having improperly working plumbing fixtures that are now also antiquated with their own set of problems is yet another quandary within itself.  The fixtures themselves can also be finished in a color that is long out of style.  So what do you do?
Handicap Home Modifications

     It is well past time to undergo a fine bathroom upgrade and makeover.  Bathroom remodeling can either be a pain or a pleasant experience according to the participants involved.  Bathroom remodeling in Austin, Texas like most other cities includes many of the same aspects.  Be sure to choose a qualified residential construction contractor whose personality and qualifications are agreeable with you personally.  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.  His professional remodeling experience will include his capacity to identify many construction limitations and hazards.   These variables underlie the major pitfalls that can be avoided while making a bathroom remodeling design come into reality.  His experience can also aid you in accomplishing bathroom upgrades that include disability issues.  Accessibility is what the project is about anyway.  The job needs to flow 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.

     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. 

     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 the 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.

Bathroom Remodels

Home Remodeling In Austin

home remodeling Austin, Texas

 

     T-Square Company is a local General Contracting firm and builder with over 35 years of experience.  Our design/build services can show you how to make your dreams come true in a seamless manner.  Call us at 512-444-0097 today to find out how we can make your living environment better for you and your family.  We are CAPS certified to help our clients with special needs.

 

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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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Accessible Homes

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Tue, Aug 27, 2019 @ 13:08 PM

     What really defines the accessible homes of Austin?  Barrier free architectural design 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.  What are the main design issues regarding aging in place home modifications in Austin?

Principles Of Universal Design

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

  1. Low maintenance with little need for landscaping or exterior upkeep which could translate into newer rather than older homes that are the accessible homes of Austin.
  2. An accessible level entry either achieved with ramps or the rare flat lot in Austin.  Consumers are looking for the free maneuverability that more open floorplans offer having greater clear unobstructed floor space.  Wider doorways and unobstructed accessible routes are truly a concern.  These structures will provide flat floors without transitions requiring steps or stairs to move around.
  3. An accessible master suite and kitchen located on the same floor is preferable.  If two story homes are mandated by the community then the guests will inhabit the second floor.  If the master suite needs to be located on the second floor then closets can be stacked to house a future elevator installation.
  4. Evolving kitchens have sprung up due to the more open floorplans.  Fewer wall cabinets, lowered cabinet tops, pullout shelves or specialized drawers, and a reduced number of mobility obstructing doors represent the evolution of todays cabinetry. Kneespaces can be incorporated into a kitchen design for roll under access to the sink, prep area, and cooktop.  Higher toe kicks can facilitate greater wheelchair access.
  5. Appliances are being installed at more comfortable heights due to decreased reach distances and bending motion.  Raised dishwashers, refrigerator drawers,  dishwashing drawers, and non-stacked double ovens are just a few changes within the appliance world.  Microwaves can be installed below the cabinet top and cooktops with controls located on the front represent another appliance metamorphosis helping with reach problems.
  6. The lack of cabinet doors creating a new accessible open look for cabinetry is taking hold on the market.  This is becoming more popular in both the bath and kitchen of accessible homes.
  7. Concerning bathroom accessibility remodels, bathroom vanities with universal height cabinet tops and open knee spaces are taking over the marketplace.  These new residential vanities do not need to look institutional.  They can be designed like any other piece of fine furniture. Comfort height toilets covered with any one of a multitude of available seats to fit every need prevent deep knee bends required for seating. Curbless roll in showers are advised for everyone on a universal level.  The shower should contain at least a shower wand on a sliding bar to be available for varying heights of use along with a regular height shower head with diverter control if desired.  Folding seats are useful if caretakers are involved and secure grab bars around the shower perimeter will increase the safety factor and prevent falls.  All of the bathroom floor surface must be nonskid to prevent slipping on a guaranteed wet floor. 

Download Our Free Aging In Place Remodeling Considerations Checklist

     The above factors have brought about the need for universal design ideas.  This is the design of products, services, and environments that are usable by as many people as possible regardless of age, ability, or situation without the need for adaptation or specialized alterations.  Home accessibility provides for the greatest safety and access for any home guests or occupants and is undetectable when done well.

     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 Homes Of Austin

 

Accessible Home In Austin

 

accessible homes in Austin

Handicap Home Modifications

  . 

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Professional Construction Services In Austin

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Thu, May 02, 2019 @ 15:05 PM

     The Basic Room Scenario

     A combination of six faces defines nearly any given room.  The four walls receive the most preparation since they are usually the focal point as one enters the room.  Much time is spent to achieve just the right color, texture, and appearance to create that lasting impression.  The fifth surface, the floor, is generally designed for durability and comfort keeping with the rooms color scheme.  It too has a great deal to do with the general feeling of the room and as such is always considered in conjunction with the walls.  The final surface at the ceiling level is hardly ever taken into account in the finish schedule beyond that of getting a coat of color scheme blending paint. 

Principles Of Universal Design

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

Bathroom Remodeling Austin

Kitchen Remodeling

     One may never realize this last face even exists until they are lying in bed staring upward at a very common and unimaginable sight.  This most recently neglected surface having  such great potential has simply been made boring with the invention and use of drywall.  The old out of sight, out of mind gesture kicked in following the sheetrock revolution.  Consulting with a residential construction professional in Austin can give you some workable ideas.

     Long before drywall was slapped upon the ceiling and left to disappear in monotony, ceilings were both ornate and beautiful.  Wood was generally used on the ceiling enabling beams, coffered units, and box ceilings to be limited only by creativity. Clap board houses had boarded ceilings covered with cheese cloth so that colorful wall paper could be hung.  Beaded and v-groove boards were another way to make ceilings interesting.  A metallic look was obtained using stamped tin panels of many patterns.  When all else failed and a homogeneous look was desired plaster was used.

Custom Ceilings

     The look of fine cabinetry along with detailed woodwork and trim can be used on the ceiling to make any job more interesting and "kick it over the top".  You can combine creative  woodwork with faux or actual metal surfaces for that certain but different look.  Beamed and coffered ceilings also create a warm and rich feeling that is beyond the norm. Any use of these special ceilings will give any bath or kitchen upgrade a unique overall feel and look.  They can enhance bedrooms, home offices, libraries, vestibules or any room you'd like to reveal a looming accent. 

How would you like waking up to this Oak ceiling daily?

coffered ceilings in Austin, Texas

Try spending some of those building funds on the aspects that are only seen when you're at total rest and staring up into dullness!

Home Accessibility Help

     No matter which room you are wanting to upgrade, from kitchens to bathrooms, take everything into consideration because this is what represents your home to your visitors through their sensory perception. 

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Home Remodeling Near Me

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Thu, May 02, 2019 @ 15:05 PM

     Whether you're looking for a local residential remodeling contractor in Austin, Texas to accomplish a kitchen remodel or a construction professional to complete an entire gutting and remodel of your entire home including a home office transformation,  the final accenting finishes most likely will include the use of fine cabinetry. The choice between frameless European and Northern face frame cabinetry styles will highlight practically any design.   Choosing the correct wood species can further add to the richness of the job.  Then there are those needed additions that must blend while being added onto your home without notice.

Principles Of Universal Design

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

Kitchen Remodeling

      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 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 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 $100 per square foot for your kitchen upgrade project.

     Any kitchen remodel 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 but islands can also be incorporated into the design to increase the efficiency.  The prep sink within the island can become it's own focal point of the work triangle displacing 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.

      Living with a dysfunctional bathroom layout reduces the total feeling of relaxation your master bath is capable of providing.   During those much deserved private moments you long for your bathroom's surroundings to provide both luxury and function.  There isn't adequate lighting for the many daily personal duties like applying makeup.   There needs to be adequate ventilation so you don't always feel as though you are housed in a "sweat box" while getting dressed. The outdated plate mirror extending from your vanity top's splash upward toward the drywall furrdown above has never been a design you thank the world of. You have always disliked that box above housing the poorly illuminating fluorescent tube lamps that are concealed by the yellowing plastic diffusing panel.  You are sick and tired of the poor storage facilities inherited when you purchased your home.  The height of the vanity is out of line according to your needs and it is also inadequate for your storage needs.  The existing cabinet layout contains unusable drawers beginning to come off their tracks and the cabinet doors have their own particular issues.  Your cabinets are either too deep to access what they contain or their storage capabilities have been limited by their total improper design.  What were those guys thinking?  What's more the out of fashion ceramic tiles are either partly missing or they are totally the wrong color for the day along with the colors within the rest of the room.  Having improperly working plumbing fixtures that are now also antiquated with their own set of problems is yet another quandary within itself.  The fixtures themselves can also be finished in a color that is long out of style.  So what do you do?
Handicap Home Modifications

     It is well past time to undergo a fine bathroom upgrade and makeover.  Bathroom remodeling can either be a pain or a pleasant experience according to the participants involved.  Bathroom remodeling in Austin, Texas like most other cities includes many of the same aspects.  Be sure to choose a qualified residential construction contractor whose personality and qualifications are agreeable with you personally.  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.  His professional remodeling experience will include his capacity to identify many construction limitations and hazards.   These variables underlie the major pitfalls that can be avoided while making a bathroom remodeling design come into reality.  His experience can also aid you in accomplishing bathroom upgrades that include disability issues.  Accessibility is what the project is about anyway.  The job needs to flow 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.

     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. 

     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 the 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.

Bathroom Remodels

Residential Remodeling Creating A Custom Walk In Shower

Custom Walk In Showers In Austin, Texas

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Home Remodeling Contractors Residential

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Thu, May 02, 2019 @ 14:05 PM

     You have contemplated and dreamed of an addition to your home for years but now it's time for you to make a decision as to how you accomplish your basic needs for living.  Certain changes in your lifestyle have dictated an expansion.  Your living space has grown more crowded over time with additional family members being added as children, extended family members, or you may now find yourself having to provide care for an elderly family member.  Any and all of these life changing situations can add stress to  your daily lifestyle creating the need for additional living space or home improvements Austin. 

Principles Of Universal Design

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

     As our children grow older they generally require more space and sometimes privacy.  This sparks a need for additional bedroom space alone once an aging relative or spouse is introduced into the original home's square footage who requires special care.   Here, privacy can truly become an issue just to keep everyone happy while underneath the same roof.  Perhaps even private entrances will be required for some of the home's new residents.  These private entries could  be required to begin a new accessible route if there are ADA compatibility issues involved. 

A Local & Trusted Builder

 

     It's time to find yourself either a qualified architectural firm and residential remodeling contractor or a local experienced residential construction contractor with in house design capabilities who can build what is designed.  The latter situation is usually your best shot at getting what you basically need to solve your living situation problems allowing you to cut out the beyond budget frills.  You will also save on the soft costs of your construction project that have nothing to do with the structual building process itself.  Many local residential contractors are quite capable of pushing out a wall in your home and putting a top on the structure.  This capability is based on both their experience and knowledge of all the building trades, especially the framing aspect that will be involved.  Actual experience in this particular facet of the project could proove to be very helpful for visualizing the construction and it's possibilities.  Has this contractor ever done this kind of project before?  Does he himself have skilled experience or does he appear to be a drive by limited contractor at the mercy of his subcontractor's capabilities?  Any depth of design is totally based on experience.  You will need to completely check out the contractor's references and any memberships in  local business organizations like the  Better Business Bureau.  What kind of rating does the residential remodeling professional have and how long has he been an accredited member?  Does the company have both general liability and Workman's Comp insurances and did the company offer you a certificate of insurance verifying their coverage.  You need the kind of information that can't be paid for and posted by the residential remodel contractor in question.  Don't be taken in by contractor listing  and referral sights that promise you successful and competent businesses.  They were listed there for one and only one reason, somebody paid for the listing fee.  Membership to national associations like NARI reflect only a self paid fee but says nothing about the contractor's experience and creativity.  That only comes from past customer's testimonials that you can fact check.

     Now how about the competitive bid prices you have collected?  A good rule of thumb is to toss out the lowest and highest numbers and go with the mid price.  This is true if and only if the company can pass the litmus test outlined above.  However, the project should be based on overall quality and remember you usually get what you pay for.  This situation will be solved with how the personalities of you and the contractor mesh together.  You must be able to communicate with this person who has come into your life throughout the construction process while keeping a level head for problem solving.  There will be problems because every construction and remodeling project has at least one.  There also needs to be a norm in the way the proposal is written.  Has the bidder been transparent and detailed to you in writing what is being covered within the bid?  Are there meaningful and fair allowances contained within the bid covering the materials that will be used but have no specifications as of yet?  You must do your homework before entering into any contract without regret.

T-Square company is a residential construction contractor in Austin, Texas

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Professional Remodeling Contractor In Austin

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Thu, May 02, 2019 @ 14:05 PM

home remodeling near me    

     When you have finally decided to pursue a personal building project for your home and are now ready to hire a residential construction contractor in Austin, Texas you must first verify the company's capabilities and completion record.  First you really need to know just how reputable a business is before jumping on board with anyone. Is there an office or shop listed with a physical address and not just a P O Box.  The safest way to validate any contractor's record and understand their business is by utilizing free listings available from your local Better Business Bureau either through their website or via the telephone.  Any consumer can see if the contractor is not only a current member and for how long but if they  are an accredited member with a rating given out by the BBB based on track records of the contractor.  You can find out how long they've been in business and if there have any derogatory complaints against them.  You can be assured that no money has changed hands for receiving the accreditation grade which is based  on the total profile of the contractor's business.   Don't get caught taking the easy route to a decision blindly trusting posted lists of trusted businesses that are available on the internet .  Many say that no contractor can pay a fee to be listed on their approved sights; however,  a fee was certainly paid by someone to be listed or the web sight could not exist. 

Elder Construction

     After checking out the local business listing on the BBB why not look into the business owner himself.   Linked In can provide you with some background on the business owner like educational experiences,  how long they've been in business, and other general knowledge.  Just how transparent is the business and is it in good standing?  Yelp is another web site where a free listing about a business containing testimonials has been posted by their clients.  You can verify if a business exists and find out more about them plus you can always ask for more references.

Principles Of Universal Design

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

     Now that you know the business actually exists and the owner is both local and somewhat reputable,  you should take note in how they conduct their business.  Is the contractor trying to do the job without a city permit not being registered with the city and county or does he have both general liability and workman's comp insurance?  The old adage that "if there is a permit involved then my taxes surely will go up because of the improvements" gets shot down because city officials make sure the work is done in line with the accepted building code.  The time to obtain the permit and it's fees surely outweighs the costs of the judgments you would have had to bring against the incompetent contractor once his methods failed.  Now how about asking to see a current certificate of insurance for the company?  The contractor must have general liability coverage to cover any accidental physical occurrences while working on your home.  He must also have workman's comp insurance to keep any employees working on your home from suing you as the homeowner if they are hurt on the job.

     I tell my customers all the time that one of their main ways of choosing a residential building professional in Austin, Texas with a good track record and BBB experience rating is the ability for them to do work with the particular residential building contractor they are interviewing.  Can they communicate easily relying on the contractor's experience and reputation and can they get along throughout the sometimes long and detailed construction process?  Are they compatible as human beings because the only energy that should be spent during the project should be directed toward it's completion.

     T-Square Company can help you with kitchen and bath remodels, room additions, or simply making your home more accessible for you or a loved one.  Our design build projects will be customized to your fit your needs and are guaranteed to blend with your homes existing architecture.  Let our over three decades of remodeling experience work for you.

Bathroom Remodels

Kitchen Remodeling

Home Accessibility Help

     After choosing your residential construction contractor you should never pay for everything up front.  Payments should be associated with aspects of the job and you should always get something for your money.  Soft costs like designs, permits, or fees can be paid in advance to get the project rolling plus any custom made entities or materials ordered and stocked on the job sight.  Never let the contractor draw ahead of what is actually happening no matter how much you are caught up in the building process.  Paying for a little overhead to a bonified construction professional will always cost more but usually saves you a lot in the long run.  It's not always about the cheapest bid because you'll always get what you pay for.  Get every aspect of the job in writing and both you and the chosen residential construction contractor must sign the document for it to be a binding contract.

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T-Square Company is a residential remodeling contractor in Austin, Texas

 

A Local & Trusted Builder

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