Check out my building blog to learn more about construction for your home or office in Austin! David L. Traut, President, CAPS Certified (512)444-0097

Universal 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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Universal Bathroom Design

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

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

wheelchair bathroom design in Austin

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

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

Bathroom Remodels

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

Wheelchair Accessible Remodeling        

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Universal Design Garages

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Nov 25, 2020 @ 18:11 PM

The garage is often overlooked when planning an Aging in Place project. A uniquely specified floor plan, special attention in how the house is entered from the garage and adequate lighting for safety encompass a Universal Design in the garage. Wider and higher clearances are required for greater accessibility. Universal Design for garages deals with the garage footprint and the associated maneuvering space around vehicles. The Universal Design garage floor plan includes a wide enough door to accommodate over-sized vehicles. A typical garage measures 22-24 feet in depth and 15-18 feet in width. Potentially accessible van storage changes a current double garage into a single car garage when the wheelchair user is entering or exiting the garage from a side door of the van. A clear five feet turning radius at the loading spot is observed allowing the wheelchair to freely move about. The single vehicle consumes the entire garage space since 15 feet in width is needed for van access on the side. Storage of a second vehicle resumes following the transport and unloading of the wheelchair user. Eighteen feet wide by eight feet tall over-sized garage doors are adequate for most any over-sized vehicle clearance. If rear vehicle ramps are needed for loading or unloading the disabled passenger supplementary space is needed.  The van is backed into the garage for this situation assuring the wheelchair user is underneath a protecting roof.

Universal Design Garage Layout in Austin

A typical garage has a 4 inch tire curb bump protecting the home from water flowing in.  This curb bump requires at least a 4 feet long ramp to overcome the change in elevation. The overall garage space is reduced using this accessibility aid. If the sunken garage has multiple steps, consider a space saving vertical platform lift as opposed to an extended ramp. This ultimately saves precious maneuvering garage space. Universal Design entries into the house require a no step entry through a 36 inch wide door. One major advantage concerning garage entries is they provide total weather protection for a disadvantaged person transitioning into the home heading toward the accessible route. To make entering the home even easier, install an electric door opener operated from a smartphone or keypad. It opens with the touch of a button and the integrated electric strike eliminates the need to fumble for keys. The opener has a built in safety delay allowing a person to pass clear of the door entrance before closing.

If adequate lighting in the garage was never a consideration it must be upgraded per Universal Design concepts. Proper lighting is one of the key components in Universal Design. It will help eliminate tripping and falling. At least one or more additional lights are installed where needed to overcome this problem especially in the direct vicinity of the home entrance door. These additional lights can be controlled by a motion switch causing them to come on automatically when anything enters the garage.  

Principles Of Universal Design    

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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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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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What Is Aging In Place

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

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

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

Aging In Place Living Area In Austin

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

Principles Of Universal Design

Elder Construction

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

Download Our Free Aging In Place Remodeling Considerations Checklist

 

Aging In Place Designs

The interior floor plan

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

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

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

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

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

Kitchen and laundry

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

Upper wall cabinetry three inches lower than conventional height

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

Counter space for dish landing adjacent to or opposite all appliances

Base cabinet with roll out trays and lazy Susans

Pull-down shelving

Glass-front cabinet doors

Open shelving for easy access to frequently used items

Appliances

Easy to read controls located at front

Washing machine and dryer raised 12-15 inches above floor

Front loading laundry machines

Microwave oven at counter height or below

Side-by-side refrigerator/freezer

Side-swing or wall oven

Raised dishwasher with push-button controls

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

Miscellaneous

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

Multi-level work areas to accommodate cooks of different heights

Open under-counter seated work areas

Placement of task lighting in appropriate work areas

Loop handles for easy grip and pull

Pull-out spray faucet; levered handles

Bathroom

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

Contrasting color edge border at counter tops

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

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

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

Bathtub - lower for easier access

Fold down seat in the shower

Adjustable/handheld shower heads, 6-foot hose

Tub/shower controls offset from center and below 48"

Low profile shower stall with built-in antibacterial protection

Light over shower stall

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

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

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

Slip-resistant flooring in bathroom and shower

Electrical, lighting, safety, and security

Light switches by each entrance to halls and rooms

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

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

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

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

Rocker or touch light switches

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

Programmable thermostats

Home wired for security

Other ideas

Separate apartment for rental income or future caregiver

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

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

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

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

Aging In Place Home Modifications

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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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Elderly and Disabled Home Modifications Near Austin

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Tue, Jul 16, 2019 @ 10:07 AM

     The baby boomer sector of our society born between 1946 and 1965 are 77 million strong and make up 28% of the U.S. population. This group is quickly catching onto the trend of aging in place and accessible homes. The economics of aging in place home modifications are necessary for anyone trying to remain healthy, independent, and safe within their existing home. Moving to a typical assisted-living facility can cost up to and beyond $60,000 annually. The cost to widen the bathroom door, put in safety bars, and add a roll-in shower would typically start at around $8,000 to $12,000, but doing so is a one-time expense, not a yearly drain on your finances when remodeling a bathroom for disability access.

wheelchair accessible vanity in Austin

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

     In our daily lives, we all know what to do if the front door is no longer secure, if the kitchen sink backs up, or if the air conditioning suddenly goes out on a hot day. However, for those suddenly facing a catastrophic illness, life can suddenly be a scary and confusing place in which our existing homes are no longer a sanctuary but become a jail within the nightmare of limited accessibility. With the onset of a life-altering illness or catastrophic injury, knowing who to call to solve problems faced performing our usual daily tasks suddenly becomes very challenging.

Wheelchair Accessible Remodeling

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

     Knowledgeable construction and design professionals are utilizing their CAPS training across the nation. CAPS stands for Certified Aging In Place Specialist. This designation is taught through the National Association of Home Builders in collaboration with AARP. CAPS connects responsible professionals with home owners who need these services on an ever-increasing basis. CAPS is a nationwide initiative and all active CAPS members can be found at nahb.org/CAPSdirectory.

     Look for the CAPS credential as a reliable way to identify professionals to modify your home or build a new one that is designed for a lifespan. CAPS graduates receive training about the technical/construction aspects and learn about the unique aspects of working with older Americans. They must also take formal business training to maintain their credential through continuing education and even must subscribe to a Code of Ethics.

     Physical limitations requiring accessibility home modifications 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.  The building world must work in unison to be sure the entire living environment meets basic needs in addition to affordability and structural integrity for the consumer and home owner.  This includes both the home and the components within the home being accessible to all inhabitants.  Privacy, sense of belonging, sense of control, and the sense of safety and security make up the quality of life for any home and should be considered for any design.

     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. No matter how old you are you should periodically evaluate your residence to determine whether it suits you not just for the present but the future. Your home assessments will be rethought every time your living situation changes. Whether childproofing for a newborn, making a home more accessible following a sickness or unfortunate accident to someone in the family, or making a toilet area safer for an aging residing parent, there will be an immediate evolution to your primary domicile. These same life span design features are even more important if you believe you're past the age of wanting to move and are relishing the thought of aging in your own home, no matter what physical limitations you might later develop.  Incorporating smart aging design concepts like a roll in shower into a home will attract a larger group of buyers when you decide to finally sell your home. Preparing for one of those highly likely events involving someone in your home needing room modifications for even a short time while recovering from surgery is surely a smart move. Solving aging in place issues will soon become the number one challenge concerning the present obsolete housing inventory in our country. 

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

     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.

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

Aging In Place Home Modifications

 

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