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 Home Design In Austin

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Tue, Oct 29, 2019 @ 15:10 PM

     It appears that after so long a time of blogging, soap box deliveries, and conversations with my customers concerning the importance of Universal Design in the future of our home building industry others have listened and are in agreement. I was humbled to find this article published in the Austin American Statesman and take pride in the fact that people are beginning to see the importance of this very forward thinking design concept.  May this article help to propel the needed universal building movement forward.

     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. 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 build project is appealing to all users.When correctly applied,any area of the home will be accented universally with stylish function and will be virtually invisible.

     Aging in place home modifications are available through T-Square Company in Austin, Texas. Each universal design/build project will be customized to fit any and all homeowners 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. T-Square Company will design and build you an adapted living environment completely customized toward your abilities. Whether your project concerns home modifications, an accessible addition or wing, or new construction we can help you increase your accessibility. We have over three decades of building and remodeling experience practicing as a disability contractor for people with special needs . We want to help our clients be as self sufficient and independent as possible by offering handicap accessible floor plans. Let us show you how to increase the safety and accessibility within your personal living environment.

CAPS 1636580

 

Accessible Homes Of Austin

 


The trend toward 'universal design' in homes
Tuesday, Jan 15, 2019 @ 3:57pm
By David Wilfong

universal home design in Austin

Simple adjustments like a sideways opening oven can make life a lot easier for a person in a wheelchair. | Jofre Essley / Flickr
For many years disabled people faced challenges at every corner of public life. Stairs, rough ground, or even just reaching objects on a shelf created obstacles at inopportune times. Then the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) came into play. Wheelchair ramps and handicapped restrooms became commonplace in common spaces, and the result has been an improved quality of life for millions.
Then there’s the subject of home design. Homes have been modified for many years to meet the needs of the disabled, but now there is a new concept of “universal design,” which means homes being built for all needs from the beginning, even if there is not currently a disabled person living there.
“Along with aging in place, universal design is becoming more of a household term,” says T-Square Company (14141 Highway 290 West, Suite 800 in Austin) in is online blog. “Essentially, it’s about building or modifying places and spaces—both public and private—to accommodate people of all ages and abilities. More than just an architectural concept, universal design is a win-win for sandwich generation boomers caring for aging parents and their children at home, for grandparents raising grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and for all who are facing the challenges of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other chronic diseases. Whether your family needs the support now or down the road, universal design features are a good long-term investment for the home itself.”
The trend toward 'universal design' in homes
Tuesday, Jan 15, 2019 @ 3:57pm
By David Wilfong

Principles Of Universal Design

 

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Handicap Accessible Floor Plans

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Mon, Oct 14, 2019 @ 13:10 PM

     T- Square Company in Austin, Texas is an industry leading accessible, universal, certified Aging in Place and VA approved Specially Adapted Housing custom home builder and remodeler. We offer both new totally accessible homes and complete handicap modifications for existing homes. Traditional home builders and remodelers don't really consider the needs of the disabled or elderly like ADA vanities , roll in showers, or specially adapted kitchens which are universal in nature.  It takes a special breed of contractor to realize special needs for special people.

Handicap Accessible Home Design In Austin

      A revolution in building design standards is long overdue.  Our current building design standards do not address the needs of more than one third of our existing population.  Many more people can greatly benefit from accessible design versus conventional design.  Our rapidly aging population is experiencing the limitations of our personal living environments.  Any evolution in building practically always begins in the common areas of the commercial building sector.  The American Disabilities Act of 1990 increased the attention needed for those people having the right to equally access their work place and any recreational or leisure facilities.  These rules at least offer minimal solutions for those needing the most help with any building access.  In Austin, we now must  provide access to one bathroom on the first floor in new homes as deemed by our newly adopted building regulations.  This basic right to a handicap accessible bathroom is finally being enforced by the city's building inspectors.  What a tremendous needed and basic design improvement!

     Finding the right design/build contractor with ADA knowledge and experience can be a challenge.  Obtaining help for maintaining your independence throughout an accessible wheelchair design in Austin is possible.  You should be looking for a CAPS certified contractor who understands life changes.  A local contractor who offers specialty products and services standing out from the rest of the pack.  A contractor who has the ability, through experience,  to help clear the murky water impeding your accessible route and how it can be accomplished.  One who takes ADA remodeling to another level promoting safety.  A well versed construction professional can take on and solve any residential ADA challenge creating handicap accessible house plans.  These can include widening doorways, ADA compliant kitchen cabinets, or ADA compatible baths

Home Accessibility Help

     Accessible floor plans can include level no step entries, wider hallways and doorways, adequate maneuvering space for a wheelchair turning radius throughout the home, non-slip flooring, ramps to overcome level changes, clear unobstructed walkways, special area lighting, accessible closets and storage, roll out or pull out shelving, easy grab door hardware, automatic and graspable faucets, full extension drawers, accessible switches and outlets, roll in showers, ADA roll under vanities, counter tops, and work spaces, accessible kitchen appliances, and many other specialty features designed around the homeowner's abilities.

     A handicap accessible house plan takes the special needs of the physically disabled into consideration throughout the entire design. This type of home layout typically includes fewer walls, more open space, and wider hallways for increased mobility throughout the home for those that require the use of a wheelchair.

     The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures that public spaces are designed to accommodate disabled patrons, and this type of home does as well. After all, living with a disability presents many challenges, as the ADA acknowledges, and navigating the home shouldn't be one of them. The home shouldn't ever make the homeowner feel like a prisoner within it's walls.

    Aging in place construction and Austin ADA remodeling has become synonymous with handicap accessible home design and modification during our lifetime.   Home modifications can be used to accommodate anyone from people with mobility impairments to those with vision loss, hearing loss, or even cognitive or developmental disabilities. Accessibility home modifications or wheelchair accessible kitchen and bathroom remodeling in Austin will allow anyone with limited mobility within your home to feel more empowered and independent.  The extent of a customized accessibility design is dependent upon the activity level of the person requiring the modifications.

Handicap Accessibility

     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 increasing home accessibility.

 

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What Are The Differences Between Universal Design And Aging In Place?

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Mon, Aug 26, 2019 @ 10:08 AM

     If you have been considering a home remodeling project and have searched the general landscape, you're probably  familiar with the terms Universal Design and Aging in place. Some people use these words interchangeably, but while they are similar, they do differ. Both are specific design techniques used to make a home more comfortable for individuals of different abilities.

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

     Young and middle aged homeowners should begin to think about incorporating universal design or aging in place aspects as they periodically accomplish renovations or updates to their homes. It is easier and more affordable to think ahead and include accessibility and future ease of use as part of a planned renovation than to add these elements later in life. Planning ahead is important for everyone, no matter their physical abilities. Remodeling your home to age in place later by enlarging doorways, a roomy bedroom suite, or a full bath which incorporates a walk in shower requires effort and money. Don't wait until it's necessary forcing a full blown costly remodel. Including universal design elements and aging in place amenities early on is not only smart planning, but it also is virtually undetectable.  If done correctly, it will accentuate any style, and should you sell your home, can add value for potential buyers because the group of buyers increases with accessibility.  Universal design elements are often incorporated into aging-in-place renovations.  Implementing universal design principals is the perfect way to meet the needs of everyone from the multi generational family to first time home buyers and includes elements for those who are disabled including mobility issues, impaired sight and more.

Principles Of Universal Design

     Aging in place remodeling is used to modify a home as the homeowner matures.  It provides continual access and maneuverability to the home immediately. Aging in place is not age related. The design is convenient and comfortable. Some modifications are noticeable like replacing the bathtub with a roll in shower with grab bars or replacing exterior stairs with a ramp.

    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.

Universal design/build  project in Austin

     Universal design came about because disability is common during our lifetime and homes are best designed with accessibility for everyone.  At some point disability affects most of us in our lives. 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 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.

      Most aging baby boomers prefer one story homes in which to age in place and this has become a primary reason to relocate versus a remodel.  They are looking for an accessible master suite and kitchen located on the same floor.  However, some developments mandate building two story homes.  The above requirement can be easily met by placing the guest bedrooms and accompanying bath upstairs.  If the master suite for any reason needs to be upstairs, closets can be stacked between floors to house a future elevator installation.

     Universal design is more of a blanket design category that is focused on aging in place remodeling later. It is a design approach that ensures the homes and commercial buildings can be used by virtually everybody, regardless of their level of ability. By using universal design, people who are very different can all enjoy the same space as their living space evolves with them during their lifetime. It's a design technique that ensures that a home will be there for the entire family even when their personal needs change.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

     Universal Design/Build projects and 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 a certified aging in place specialist offering complete aging in place services.  Each design/build situation will be customized to fit your personal needs to increase your accessibility. Call 512-444-0097 today to begin the accessible second chapter of your life while remaining safe and secure in your existing home. CAPS #1636580

 

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Austin Bathroom Remodel

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Sep 06, 2017 @ 14:09 PM

     What makes an Austin bathroom remodel more Austintaceous in a laid back Central Texas city like ours?  What propels a bathroom upgrade to stand alone in Austin like the proud lone star representing our beloved state?  What enhanced characteristics are shared but also contribute to all completed bathroom projects making them exclusive and individual?  Personality with pride is the only way to sum up all the major characteristics adding up to create a great Austin bathroom remodel.  There is a feeling within the new bath that only the great wide open spaces of Texas suggest denying the discomfort of confinement. We all express our individuality living here in Austin.  We meld together our backgrounds and cultural differences to form a diverse but unique city with style.  Certainly style is what is needed to compliment that pride that Texans feel so strongly. 

Principles Of Universal Design

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

    What about the costs involved?  In general, a typical small hallway bathroom remodel in the Austin area can run you about $19,000.  However a larger master bathroom makeover can push up your budget to around $40,000 as an average.  Don't forget that these are average costs and the client is limited only by their bank account.  Just the conversion of a tub into a walk in shower design can set you back around $14,000 as a good medium price range.  But what makes the costs appear so expensive?  Basically time, the difficulty of the job, and the actual labor costs performed by all the trades involved on top of the expenses to purchase the products chosen for the project.

Austin Bathroom Remodel

Austin Bathroom Remodel

     If you are fortunate to have a larger space to deal with there will be increased costs due directly to the larger area to finish -as in more tiles for a bigger area and the labor to install them.  Your costs may go down per square foot but you are certainly dealing with more square footage and the associated increased costs.  You need to consider that plumbers, electricians, tile setters, framers, drywall workers, carpenters, and insulation installers, just to name a few trades, will be involved in your bathroom remodel.  Now how about the demolition that will be involved before the actual construction begins?  Sometimes the preparations behind the walls or floors can take longer than building the new bathroom remodel itself.  Perhaps there isn't enough water volume to supply your chosen bathroom shower fixtures requiring a supply line to be enlarged or there just isn't sufficient fall for a gravity drain to work naturally that necessitates a lift pump system be installed.  What are the new electrical requirements and layout and do these require dedicated, GFI, or arc fault circuits and outlets and will the existing electrical panel handle the additional circuit breakers or is a subpanel needed?

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

     Middle aged and especially older homeowners should begin to think about incorporating universal design or aging in place aspects as they periodically accomplish renovations or updates to their homes. It is easier and more affordable to think ahead and include accessibility for future ease of use as part of any planned renovation than to add these elements all at once later in life. Planning ahead is important for everyone, no matter their physical abilities. Remodeling your home to age in place in the future by enlarging doorways, a roomy bedroom suite, or a full bath which incorporates a walk in shower requires effort and money. Don't wait until it becomes a necessity when forcing a full blown costly remodel. Including universal design elements and aging in place amenities early on is not only smart planning, but it also is virtually undetectable.  If done correctly, it will accentuate any style and should you decide to sell your home, can add value for potential buyers because the group of buyers increases with accessibility.  Universal design elements are often incorporated into aging in place renovations.  Implementing universal design principals is the perfect way to meet the needs of everyone within the home.  This hold true for the multi-generational family to first time home buyers and includes elements for those who are disabled including mobility issues, impaired sight,  and more.

Bathroom Upgrades

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

     Any bathroom remodel must stand out even to their owners after the job is complete and all the workers have gone away.  The use of granite, marble, onyx, limestone, or glass tiles during a bathroom upgrade can only be further enhanced when any design utilizing glass blocks is introduced into the mix.  Glass block designs can be inserted into an interior shower wall or on the exterior wall itself creating a waterproof window with both privacy and insulating capabilities.  Glass blocks also make a great toilet partition when you don't want the confinement of a toilet room. 

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

     Let's move on to either the tub removal to produce a larger walk in shower design or the tub's replacement. A modern free standing soaking tub will require replacing the tub filler with one coming out of the floor or out of an adjacent wall.  An under mount tub will require a pedestal with a deck mounted faucet.   Even replacing the existing tub/shower valve and tub spout will give you a shiny feeling of newness.  A new glass enclosure for a tub/shower combination will provide a revived look plus the more expensive frameless models will bring your bathroom completely up to date.

     If deleting the tub to achieve a custom walk in shower design is your choice then you have a few options to consider.  Do you wall in two thirds of the width of the old tub placing the new door away from the shower head?   This new wall can be tiled in to match the shower.   Using natural stone or glass tiles will certainly be an upgrade for any Austin bathroom remodel. Do you desire a more expensive frameless door set beside a glass panel?  The enclosed shower can incorporate a couple of shampoo niches for convenience and clutter removal. The designs are limited only by your imagination and how you want the final product to turn out.  Be sure that all your research is justified and don't try to cram too much into your new bathroom remodel.  A good design is one that can come into being with the least time spent on alterations and additional costs. Austin bathroom remodeling should involve multiple shower head combinations in multiple locations within the shower to fit anyone's desires. Rain heads coming out of the ceiling, body sprays coming out of the walls in many locations, or hand held units attached to the shower walls can be very practical.  These combinations of heads and locations can be used to create rain effects, provide relief for muscle aches through body massages, or simply provide pin point convenience with hand held variable heads.  The possibilities are endless as you utilize your bathing environment.  Steam generators are also being considered as an investment in today's fine bathroom designs.  The steam  heads can make the difference after a tough day when you're looking for that more therapeutic spa experience.

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

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

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

     T-Square Company has been successfully remodeling bathrooms in the Austin area for over three decades.  With our design/build experience we are able to qualify what will work best for the homeowner and ultimately save them money. We are CAPS certified to help our customers age in place or for those with special needs.  We practice universal design techniques which  benefit everyone. Contact us today at 512-444-0097 to begin to find the answers to all your remodeling questions.

Bathroom Remodels

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