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

Future Home Building Using Universal Design

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Dec 30, 2020 @ 15:12 PM

The present out of control housing market situation prompted a search for answers solving the question of how to create houses capable of meeting the needs of tomorrow while accommodating future life changes. There is no one size fits all home design because everyone’s life experience is unique to them creating a diverse society with diverse physical needs. Using Universal Design, the wide ranging abilities of the homeowner is a major consideration for all successful inclusive and adaptable designs in homes. The absence of the Universal Design principles entering into all existing home architectural endeavors is perpetuating the lack of accessible housing urgently needed for the lifespan of every homeowner. To increase the acceptance of this design concept by everyone, especially the consumer, Universal Design must become a topic of conversation through knowledge and basic understanding. This depends on the members of the broadest populations’ acknowledgement of the need for the use of this practical idea.

Universal Design Kitchen in Austin

Universal Design plays a significant role in the future accessibility of all home designs. Homeowners must base design decisions on the seven (or eight) principles of Universal Design. Deciding which universal features to include in future forever homes is the most alluring question. Each principle is very useful in itself. The more principles involved in the design process, the greater the adaptable outcome of the home. After all, the smart forward thinking homes of the future depict long term sustainable assets for life allowing Aging in Place to seamlessly follow as people age and evolve. It is true Universal Design emerged out of the accessible and adaptive architectural movement; however, it constantly attempts to combine aesthetics with basic core values for every user. While moving us toward an accessible future, appearing invisible, Universal Design recognizes peoples’ bodies, needs, and lifestyles constantly change along a continuum due to the aging process. Universal Design acknowledges too that everyone ages differently as individuals. One person’s disability type is not experienced like another’s. It is better to live in a more open and comfortable Universal Design home with the flexibility of evolving with the homeowner rather than one which at some uncertain time becomes an impasse during the homeowner’s lifetime.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

Embracing Universal Design with its many values and advantages for all people during timely remodeling projects or while building a new home is needed if society is ever going to escape the inaccessible cookie cutter homes of today. Additionally, this design technique offers a win-win solution helping solve problems encountered by multi-generational households. The multi-generational homes of today create the greatest personal accessibility challenges for all the generations involved. The application of Universal Design principles is desperately needed to sustain the choice of living environments for these diversified families. Universal Design homes have the unique ability of simultaneously accommodating strollers, walkers, or wheelchairs within the home without regard to a person’s size, age, or abilities. Furthermore, these homes contain lasting value if the owner ever decides to sell appealing to all society groups. To the uninformed, the folklore associated with Universal Design has stigmatized the process in home building today. This has much to do with why such a unique building concept is not greeted with open arms by the consumer. Beliefs like, it costs more, it takes up too much space, it will make my home have less resale value, it will look institutional, or only a few people could benefit from it represent a select few.

While Universal Design sounds appealing in conversations, it is rare to actually witness it in the built environment. The Universal Design movement recognizes its slow acceptance hinges on historic ties related to being a disability solution. This way of thinking causes implications for consumers and the world of home design presenting a huge misconception. Universal Design never distanced itself from the need for increased accessibility during the disability movement of the 80’s and therefore is mired in ADA jargon producing an indelible unfocused brand. As an inclusive design, Universal Design pertains to overcoming the barriers and stereotypes associated with its terminology in order to stand out as the next and final trend in future housing. Universal Design has no limits for the varying groups of people it helps. Every family member is included when using this design methodology whether they are abled or disabled, short or tall, young or old. With education, people understand Universal Design is the most revolutionary element in housing design today. Once realized how the principles of Universal Design affect everyone in the quest for maximum inclusion, consumers might start paying better attention to this logical building concept. Future home dwellers are fortunate in having this transitional and adaptable design concept in their vocabulary. Possibly they distinguish the designs flexibility as the gateway for tomorrow homes built and designed for everyone at every age. Only then, when people grasp the importance of Universal Design, does it become an everyday building term and a much needed household solution. No longer are personal desires for Aging in Place creating total disruption during life’s waning years. It is successfully accomplished seamlessly following the accessibility offered by Universal Design.

Principles Of Universal Design

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Universal Kitchen Design

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Dec 16, 2020 @ 12:12 PM

A Universal Design approach to kitchen conception takes into account people’s varying degrees of ability and disability rather than someone is either fully-functional or disabled. The diversity among the users of the kitchen includes size, age and agility. The kitchen represents the family hub, and for the designated cook of the day, it is where many hours are spent caring for the family. A Universally Designed kitchen supports the diversity of all cooks, users, and helpers. With the additional cooks like granny or the kids, the kitchen no longer adequately accommodates everyone’s participation and changes need to be made. This is especially noticeable once families decide to help each other and become multi-generational. Enlarged work spaces, larger passing areas, accessible work surfaces, storage within universal reach distances, accessible appliances, and flexible and layered lighting are a few of the inclusive changes for the kitchen. A cohesive blend of universal functionality for the abled and disabled with conventional convenience aspects for other family members is the goal guaranteeing a successful and accessible Universal Design kitchen for any home.

Universal Design Kitchen in Austin

Homes with wheelchair accessible kitchens representing a by-product of Universal Design are a predictable necessity for the ever aging population. With the right layout, it is possible to make a home for maintaining the quality of life of the homeowners with disabilities while helping them live a more healthy, safe, and independent life. Kitchens with architectural barrier free layouts are more functional for everyone involved especially when mobility devices are required. Universal Design techniques give everyone a chance for equal independence. These very basic techniques provide adaptations or specialized designs regardless of age, ability, or situation. 

In Universal Design kitchens, the work areas containing the sink and cook top have the capability of moving up and down with the touch of a button further accommodating the seated user or a helpful child. Cleaning is easier because of the adjustable height work and storage areas.  When planning a Universal Design kitchen for anyone, every aspect of the space is considered from the cabinet height to the accessibility of appliances, to the space between cabinets and walls or islands. The principles of Universal Design call for the space to be functional and accessible for everyone in the household. This includes older homeowners with mobility or sight issues, as well as younger members of the family.

ADA Kitchen Cabinetry

Layout and flow is especially considered when planning a Universal Design kitchen space. To promote functionality for all occupants, it is vital to consider every aspect of the design including doors, traffic patterns, and workstations. The universally designed accessible kitchen is one of usability.  People need roll under capability at the sink and at least one food prep area if nowhere else. A clear floor space of 30 x 48 inches is provided in front of each accessible appliance and these areas of approach can overlap especially at the clear 5 foot turning radius. Raised dishwashers offer easier access to dishes and lowered microwaves and other appliances solve other reach distance problems making it easier to live with a disability. 

Increase Your Accessibility

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Universal Design Bedroom

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Dec 09, 2020 @ 12:12 PM

Accessible bedrooms are important for people with or without disabilities and for anyone planning to Age in Place. A functional accessible bedroom involves basic Universal Design principles to accommodate future needs. This endeavor ensures access to everyone regardless of their age, abilities, or size. Using Universal Design in the bedroom guarantees everything is easy to see, in reach, and most importantly, easy to approach. Going from the bathroom to the bedroom involves the shortest distance allowed without turns if possible. Traveling from the accessible bedroom through a 36 inch wide door provides access into the designated accessible bathroom. The size of the targeted bedroom dictates the furniture layout. Determine the best furniture placement allowing a clear five foot turning radius inside the bedroom.

Universal design/build  project in Austin

Arrange furniture producing a clear unobstructed 36 inch wide path and prevent clutter. Visualize moving around in the bedroom while approaching the closet utilizing a 30 x 48 inch clear space overlapping with the turning radius area. Always avoid clutter using too much furniture causing interference and trip hazards.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

The closet and dressing area are part of the bedroom. When feasible, open shelf and drawer storage for non-hanging items provide the greatest accessibility in the closet. Built in pull out shelves and drawers are installed below the 48 inch rod/shelf location for specific storage. Fixed shelves or a pull down rod is installed as a storage solution above the 48 inch rod/shelf. Clothes carousels and automated shoe storage units provide further options for the closet. Automated shoe storage units provide an option to regular stationary shoe storage providing greater storage capacity. In any good Universal Design bedroom the lighting, color finishes, and flooring are specified correctly ensuring increased safety and ease of use concerning everyone using the bedroom. The end result is functional and beautiful as well as spacious creating a feeling of openness.  

Home Accessibility Help    

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Maneuvering In and Around The Accessible Home

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Nov 18, 2020 @ 17:11 PM

The number one safety hazard for elderly or disabled people of any age is negotiating level changes both outside and within the home--steps at the entry, stairs between floors, curbs to step over when entering the bath or shower, and being able to access patios, decks, and terraces. When Universal Design is correctly incorporated into a home’s layout, these flexible houses accommodate the needs of their owners and their visitors even as those needs evolve over time. Barrier free homes are functional and comfortable as well as accessible to everyone.

Visitability or the lack thereof begins at the curb for every home. This term refers to how easy it is for all people coming by to pay a visit or stay with the homeowner regardless of their physical abilities. Occupants and visitors are capable of entering an accessible bathroom located on the same floor representing the visitability of the home. Ideally, the entry into the house is through a 36 inch wide door having an ADA threshold to create a no step entry.  Entrance is obtained using an easily graspable lever style lock.

Harper VA 010

The accessible entrance is a great place to begin an accessible route for most homes. Once inside the structure a new set of problems concerning accessibility are discovered along the extended accessible route if the entire first floor is not on one single level. The designated accessible route continues into all of the most used rooms increasing accessibility. All swinging doors are minimally 36 inches wide using Universal Design along the accessible route producing a clear 32 inch wide opening when the door is opened to ninety degrees. Sliding, pocket, and bi-fold doors require less operating approach space because the door is better contained along the wall in which it is mounted.

With increasing age or following a temporary health setback, simply maneuvering around inside the home is increasingly more difficult. This designated route includes a 5 x 5 foot clear turning space required for wheelchairs in the main living area, kitchen, the bedroom, and one bathroom. The selection, placement, and design of doors and doorways influence a wide range of people. The location of the doorways affects furniture placement and usable space within the associated room. This in turn affects the clear floor space and usability of the living environment for someone confined to a wheelchair utilizing the accessible route.

Home Accessibility Help

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Modifying Your Home For A Disabled Child

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Tue, Sep 17, 2019 @ 13:09 PM

     Making your home accessible for a child with special needs can be costly; but,  it will also give your entire family a feeling of security and freedom if done correctly. It is estimated that 5.4 percent of children five to seven years old are disabled representing a considerably large portion of the population.  For those children, having a home they can feel comfortable in is very important as they mature. Modifying your home for a child with a disability can be accomplished using Universal Design techniques. This concept will also benefit everyone within the family. When your child has a disability, whether from birth or following an accident, you must evolve quickly from being only a parent into a caretaker.  It suddenly becomes your job not only to nurture your child but to identify his or her basic abilities and needs so your child can flourish in their world. Sometimes this is nearly impossible to do within a traditional home design. Since each type of disability is different; then each disability will require it's own special modifications to the house.  Note that no one single type of disability is experienced the same by everyone because everybody is unique and has special needs.  Specific modifications for wheelchair accessibility, visual impairments, sensory concerns, autism, or the use of special medical equipment along with any other of the child's special needs must be considered if the overall design is to be effective for the child. Generally, if a design works well for the disabled, it works equally well for everyone. With Universal Design thoughtful aesthetics and usability are harmonious. 

     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. 

Handicap Accessibility

     Neither the Universal Design or Inclusive Design concept is age driven nor is the aging in place issue. Universal Design addresses the design of all homes both new and existing while Aging In Place deals mostly with the built environment. Universal design/build addresses not only the problems all of today's homeowners face but the professional skills involved in design, building, remodeling, and all social and health services. This new evolving concept in 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, age, or adaptive abilities. The multi-generational appeal of Universal Design is appealing to any homeowner, their children, or their parents. 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.

Wheelchair Accessible Bathroom 

Wheelchair Accessible Bathroom In Austin

     Universal Design doesn't strictly deal with accessibility 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 of a dwelling. 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 is appealing to all users.  It is very important to consider the safety of each room, as well as the exterior of the house and common spaces. Consider your child’s unique needs and how you can make your house safer for them. Whether your child recently acquired a disability or you have moved into a house that needs modifications for increased accessibility, your home must be assessed by a qualified CAPS design/build remodeler. They will be able to correlate the changes to the home environment with the needs of your disabled child.

     Fortunately, to answer the demand for Universal Design, manufacturers continue to develop products for the home that help make the user’s experience safer and more comfortable. To answer the increasing demand for universal design, home appliance and plumbing manufacturers continue to develop products for the home that help make the user’s experience safer and more comfortable without sacrificing beauty.

      The main focus of any home modifications done for a disabled child must make them feel more comfortable and be able to maneuver through and use the home more safely.  It must present a safe place where he or she will be able to develop the life skills they need in their daily environment rather than just focusing on treatment regimens. Sometimes the living environment must be changed to make a significant impact on the child's life so they are able to feel safe and free to be themselves. Whatever is needed in the way of home modifications to create a safe and comfortable environment for your child is available through the registered and certified CAPS program practitioners. CAPS stands for Certified Aging In Place Specialist. This national 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 and is not age related. CAPS is a nationwide initiative and all active CAPS members can be found at nahb.org/CAPSdirectory

Home Accessibility Help

 

Certified Aging In Place Specialist In Austin

    

     Universal Design does not equate to aging in place and 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 represent a narrow but specific sample of the masses. It provides a great cross section with average guidelines for people and their surroundings.  A Universal Design 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 Universal Design home is designed for everyone.  Each situation should be assessed separately and the designer must take into account the parameters of the space, budget, and client priorities. If all of these needs are met, the result can be beautiful, efficient spaces that improve the independence, safety, and convenience of all household members with particular attention toward the needs of the disabled child.

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Certified Aging In Place Specialist

David L. Traut, CAPS owner of T-Square Company in Austin, Texas as a handicap remodeling contractor 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, training, and knowledge necessary to design and remodel or modify a home to meet the unique needs of the older population, disabled owners or children, or their visitors. For more information about T-Square Company, visit www.tsquareco.com or call 512-444-0097.

Wheelchair accessible remodeling is available through T-Square Company.

We offer complete Aging In Place Services and designs and we are just a phone call away!

 

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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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Wheelchair Ramp Slope

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Mon, Jun 24, 2019 @ 10:06 AM

DETERMINING SLOPE RATIO

     To determine the slope of your ramp and how much horizontal space it will require, use the following calculation per the ADA guidelines: Multiply the inches your ramp will rise by the slope ratio you desire, and then divide the sum by 12 (to convert the horizontal space you'll need to feet). For example: 31-inch rise x 20 slope ratio = 620. That divided by 12 gives you a 51-foot horizontal projection.

ADA wheelchair ramp guidelines are as follows:

  • The minimum ramp width must be 36 inches minimum but 48 inches is preferable.
  • Ramps must have edge protection to keep anyone from slipping off their surface in the form of a raised outer curb or railing.
  • All wheelchair ramps must have level or flat unobstructed landings at the top and bottom of the rise being overcome that are 60 inches by 60 inches to provide a proper five foot wheelchair turning radius. The landing areas cannot have more than a 30 feet long ramp separating them. If the rise distance requires longer than a 30 foot run to overcome it then a series of landings can be used creating a switchback design.
  • Thirty six inch handrails are required on both sides of all ramps that rise steeper than 6 inches from the ground below.
  • All surfaces must be slip resistant and stable.

     A wheelchair ramp can be permanent, semi-permanent or portable providing wheelchair accessibility. Permanent ramps are designed to be bolted or otherwise attached in place. Semi-permanent ramps rest on top of the ground or concrete pad and are commonly used for the short term. Permanent and semi-permanent ramps are usually of aluminum, concrete or wood. Portable ramps are usually aluminum and typically fold for ease of transport. Portable ramps are primarily intended for home and building use but can also be used with vans to load an unoccupied mobility device or to load an occupied mobility device when both the device and the passenger are easy to handle. Ramps can be constructed from a variety of different materials, though some are better than others and friction is of upmost importance.

     A wheelchair ramp is basically an inclined plane installed in addition to or instead of stairs. Ramps provide wheelchair users or users of other mobility aids as well as people pushing strollers,carts, or other wheeled objects, better access to any building. When designing a wheelchair ramp, you need to consider the users physical limitations. The ramp should be wide enough to be safe and maneuverable and sturdy enough to carry the weight of an electric wheelchair and it's cargo (this can approach 6-700 pounds in many instances) and have a slope that is gradual enough for a manual wheelchair user to navigate. 

Austin Wheelchair Ramp

     The ADA guidelines recommend a slope ratio of 1:16 to 1:20. The Americans with Disabilities Guidelines dictate how ramps are designed for all public places. A noted 1:12 ratio is too steep for some people to navigate using a manual wheelchair. This translates into an 8% slope or grade. These ratios must be followed in all public places; however, there are no rules for residential construction. On a residential basis, the ramps can be customized for the user without having to rely on the ADA averages. The ADA rules become simply guidelines. The publication assists private homeowners to create ramps that are usable, safe and sturdy. Homeowners aren't required to follow these slope guidelines but if you have the available area then less slope is always better.

Home Accessibility Help

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


Handicap Accessibility

 

 

    Whether your family needs the support now or down the road, universal design features are a good long-term investment for the home itself. Whatever your situation please remember to rely on the experiences of a local building professional.  Check out their credentials and references and don't limit yourself to only price checks against other bidders.  Don't make the mistake of letting a cabinet making subcontractor or tile installer play the part of a general contractor.  Their knowledge will be limited to that of the cabinets or tile and not much else.  More importance needs to be given to the reputable contractor's personality and knowledge and how well you two communicate.  You are making your choice for a professional to lead the way enabling your dream to be realized.  You get what you pay for with proper planning when using an experienced and qualified local contractor. T-Square Company is CAPS certified and can be reached at 512-444-0097 in Austin, Texas.  Find out how a design/build remodeling contractor can save you money during your next project.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

 

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Wheelchair Ramp Specifications

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Tue, Jun 11, 2019 @ 17:06 PM

     A wheelchair ramp is basically an inclined plane installed in addition to or instead of stairs. Ramps provide wheelchair users or users of other mobility aids as well as people pushing strollers,carts, or other wheeled objects, better access to any building. When designing a wheelchair ramp, you need to consider the users physical limitations. The ramp should be wide enough to be safe and maneuverable and sturdy enough to carry the weight of an electric wheelchair and it's cargo (this can approach 6-700 pounds in many instances) and have a slope that is gradual enough for a manual wheelchair user to navigate. Safety is a paramount concern for the user.

wheelchair ramp in Austin

     The ADA guidelines recommend a slope ratio of 1:16 to 1:20. The Americans with Disabilities Guidelines dictate how ramps are designed for all public places. A noted 1:12 ratio is too steep for some people to navigate using a manual wheelchair. This translates into an 8% slope or grade. These ratios must be followed in all public places; however, there are no rules for residential construction. On a residential basis, the ramps can be customized for the user without having to rely on the ADA averages. The ADA rules become simply guidelines. The publication assists private homeowners to create ramps that are usable, safe and sturdy. Homeowners aren't required to follow these slope guidelines but if you have the available area then less slope is always better.

Home Accessibility Help

ADA wheelchair ramp guidelines are as follows:

  • The minimum ramp width must be 36 inches minimum but 48 inches is preferable.
  • Ramps must have edge protection to keep anyone from slipping off their surface in the form of a raised outer curb or railing.
  • All wheelchair ramps must have level or flat unobstructed landings at the top and bottom of the rise being overcome that are 60 inches by 60 inches to provide a proper five foot wheelchair turning radius. The landing areas cannot have more than a 30 feet long ramp separating them. If the rise distance requires longer than a 30 foot run to overcome it then a series of landings can be used creating a switchback design.
  • Thirty six inch handrails are required on both sides of all ramps that rise steeper than 6 inches from the ground below.
  • All surfaces must be slip resistant and stable.

DETERMINING SLOPE RATIO

     To determine the slope of your ramp and how much horizontal space it will require, use the following calculation per the ADA guidelines: Multiply the inches your ramp will rise by the slope ratio you desire, and then divide the sum by 12 (to convert the horizontal space you'll need to feet). For example: 31-inch rise x 20 slope ratio = 620. That divided by 12 gives you a 51-foot horizontal projection.

     A wheelchair ramp can be permanent, semi-permanent or portable. Permanent ramps are designed to be bolted or otherwise attached in place. Semi-permanent ramps rest on top of the ground or concrete pad and are commonly used for the short term. Permanent and semi-permanent ramps are usually of aluminum, concrete or wood. Portable ramps are usually aluminum and typically fold for ease of transport. Portable ramps are primarily intended for home and building use but can also be used with vans to load an unoccupied mobility device or to load an occupied mobility device when both the device and the passenger are easy to handle. Ramps can be constructed from a variety of different materials, though some are better than others and friction is always your friend.

Handicap Accessibility

 

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

    Whether your family needs the support now or down the road, universal design features are a good long-term investment for the home itself. Whatever your situation please remember to rely on the experiences of a local building professional.  Check out their credentials and references and don't limit yourself to only price checks against other bidders.  Don't make the mistake of letting a cabinet making subcontractor or tile installer play the part of a general contractor.  Their knowledge will be limited to that of the cabinets or tile and not much else.  More importance needs to be given to the reputable contractor's personality and knowledge and how well you two communicate.  You are making your choice for a professional to lead the way enabling your dream to be realized.  You get what you pay for with proper planning when using an experienced and qualified local contractor. T-Square Company is CAPS certified and can be reached at 512-444-0097 in Austin, Texas.  Find out how a design/build remodeling contractor can save you money during your next project.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

 

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ADA Vanity Height

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

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

ADA Vanity In Austin

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

Home Accessibility Help

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

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

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

ADA Bathroom Cabinets

 

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Austin Aging In Place Specialist

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Mon, Dec 03, 2018 @ 11:12 AM

     Quite often it is the home that presents the greatest difficulties through limited mobility or other physical impairments to seniors as they age in their existing living surroundings. Designing for specific physical conditions will lessen the impact of say arthritis, restricted mobility, or loss of vision by using combinations of products, concepts, and techniques available today. These aging in place changes can actually increase the value of your home as you are able to appeal to multiple generations of home buyers. In some cases, those who are doing only consultations are not the ones actually implementing those suggestions or doing the home modifications, which is left up to contractors. However, a CAPS certified remodeler or contractor providing a one stop shop is even more valuable to anyone wanting to age in place. Their construction knowledge enables any aging in place design to come to fruition via practicality and best practices. Complete aging in place services and the knowledge of how to carry them out are available to the homeowner through CAPS certified remodeling.  On the other hand, any knowledgeable advice from a CAPS certified individual is still valuable.  It’s up to these consultants to make sure they charge for their assessment and advise for modifying the home.  They will be additionally compensated for their design and once again for a detailed drawing. CAPS professionals are generally paid by the hour or receive a flat fee per visit or project. Typically an assessment takes approximately 60-90 minutes. It’s best if you or a family member can accompany the professional during the home safety assessment, as you or they can ask questions about specific safety items as they come up. A comprehensive Home Safety Assessment can pay for itself by avoiding the high cost of injury or assisted living.

Handicap Accessible Bathroom Remodel

Handicap accessible bathroom remodel

Principles Of Universal Design

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

 

     CAPS stands for Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist. It is a construction credential that has builders, architects, remodelers, designers and even occupational therapists buzzing. Far beyond using universal design ideas, aging in place or independent living principles are sweeping changes designed to custom fit your home to you and your family as time goes by. CAPS design takes your current and future circumstances into consideration. CAPS design principles focus on elegant, aesthetically enriching, barrier free environments. Home modifications do not need to look institutional and this is why many seniors are resisting the very changes that can help them the most. The vast majority of builders and remodelers do not have the knowledge and training to perform home modifications for aging in place. When considering installing a grab bar which seems like a simple endeavor, a run of the mill contractor or handyman has no idea of the safety regulations involved or the knowledge of where to install the grab bar leaving the consumer in an unsafe situation. These are changes that can actually increase the value of your home once they are performed correctly.

Download Our Free Aging In Place Remodeling Considerations Checklist

     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.

    There are really three categories of aging in place customers.  Those who are simply and wisely planning ahead for their futures to remain in their present homes.  The second category concerns those people who know they have a chronic medical disorder and need to prepare in advance for accessibility issues which will come as a result of their disease.  People with diseases that are constantly causing increased physical or mental changes to their being are a good representative of this second group.  The third group involves those people who either have had a chronic problem that has  progressed severely altering their mobility or those who have sustained a life altering tragedy such as being involved in an accident.  All of these groups will drive the future metamorphosis of existing inaccessible dwellings. The goal of an accessible bathroom design in Austin is to make the bathroom a safe space for everyone who uses the facilities. Aging in place services use universal design to accommodate wheelchair use and can make the bathroom more comfortable for all generations with or without specific needs. It is important to carefully outline the scope of work during the remodeling of an accessible bathroom by first taking inventory of the users capabilities, needs, and preferences.  All disability home remodeling or disability bath remodels in Austin must be done considering all the data provided by the client, his or her family, and any caretakers involved. Aging in place design must be carried out by an aging in place specialist who is also a reputable residential remodeling professional.

     During a home assessment for increasing accessibility the structural needs of the client will be noted and documented through sketches, photos, and conversation. All the surroundings will be taken into account from the flooring to the layout of a specific room or location as it pertains to the inhabitant's ease of usability. The physical and emotional needs of the occupant will also come into play because of mobility, sensory, or cognitive concerns. The goal is to modify the home in a custom manner to provide for the maximum health, independence, and safety of the occupant. Often the input from any caretakers like a physical or occupational therapist during the assessment phase can prove to be invaluable.  The three main rooms involved in aging in place home modifications are the bathroom, the kitchen, and the family room in that order.  These areas make up the most occupied spaces of any home and will be connected by a designated accessible route.  The basic needs involve access through wider doorways, non slip floor surfaces, and adequate cabinet and plumbing fixture accessibility.  What is more important is that we must observe safety for everyone as the baby boomers choose to age in place within their homes.  For more information about T-Square Company, visit www.tsquareco.com or call 512-444-0097.

     Interior modifications can include adding grab bars or handrails throughout the home, lowering upper cabinets and counter tops to universal design heights, adding non-slip flooring, widening hallways or installing stair lifts, and widening doors to a clear 32" width.  You might also consider lowering light switches and thermostats and installing easier to use door knobs.  You should try to provide a clear barrier free path or accessible route to the most visited areas of your home like a disability access bath containing an ADA compatible shower.

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

 

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