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

Pointers for Seniors To Age In Their Homes/Austin Aging in Place

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Apr 27, 2022 @ 11:04 AM

Everyone is living longer only to experience many life-challenging events during an extended lifespan.The desire to remain in your current home is not driven by age. This need is a reaction to and the result of life's experience. Any family living with a disability among any of its family members will always benefit from familiar surroundings. To increase safety and independence within your current home, certain modifications to increase accessibility and use are typically required. These modifications include but are not limited to wider doorways, the installation of ramps, inclusive kitchen modifications, accessible bathroom modifications, and the application of smooth, non-skid flooring. When planning on what modifications are needed, always make a list of the home's most problematic areas for any or all of its residents. This basic desire is creating unprecedented nationwide challenges and a niche market in the remodeling industry known as Aging in Place. The majority of Americans over the age of 45 want to continue living in an environment they are well acquainted with throughout their maturing years. These people are looking for safety, security, ease of use, and comfort for their forever home before they must vacate due to specialized needs. 

Aging In Place Home Modifications

But where did this commonly seen lack of home accessibility in nearly all homes come from? Perpetual, status quo building techniques, and affordability provide the answers. Over time, along with the exponential birth rate of the baby boomers in the late 40s and 50s, the need for more housing created sprawling American suburbs to accommodate the growing families. Developments sprang up with few architectural options while affordability was the main concern. Today, these same homes slowly and increasingly signify outdated and obsolete architectural barriers exposing a true lack of accessibility for the very people inhabiting them. The situation is ever more expanding in time since the greatest majority of individuals want to age where they currently reside. 

Aging In Place Remodel in Austin

According to the AARP, 80 percent of older homeowners overwhelmingly prefer to Age in Place, which means living in a home safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age or ability level. People with disabilities are aging but healthy individuals are aging into a disability. Aging in Place strictly deals with the remodeling of existing homes. Therefore, to Age in Place, owners need to gradually modify their homes as they mature increasing access and safety using the principles of Universal Design before a life-changing event forces making sudden architectural changes. The Aging in Place market in the U.S. today is influenced by the increasing size of the aging population, the market desire to remain in one's home, a constantly increasing cultural diversity, and the aging housing stock associated with reduced affordability. The desire to remain in existing homes is driven by social attachments via a network of neighbors, friends, and family. Comfortable positive aging is a way of living rather than a state of being.  What's more, seniors who took a proactive approach in modifying their homes over time offer peace of mind to their loved ones who know their family members are living safely and independently in their homes. 

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

Clearly, the act of Aging in Place occurs during a period of time when mature homeowners or seniors have the ability to make decisions to better support an increased quality of life. There are three segments served within the Aging in Place marketplace. The first segment includes those homeowners without urgent needs. The second segment focuses on a group of homeowners with progressive health needs. The third sector involves those people who have undergone traumatic health changes or accidental injuries necessitating immediate modifications to the home. The choice to Age in Place does not mean the homeowner has to do everything in the future by themselves. Aging in Place principles supports responsible people living life with dignity and independence even when outside assistance is essential.

T-Square Company is one of Austin's premier Aging in Place contractors offering complete Aging in Place services from home assessments to design/builds. We have over 30 years of accessibility knowledge to share with our clients making their home life less complicated. We hold a nationally recognized CAPS certification (Certified Aging in Place Specialist) offered by the National Association of Home Builders, NAHB. Contact T-Square Company today to find out how to proceed toward an accessible second chapter of your life while remaining at home. We offer complete Aging in Place design services.

Download Our Free Aging In Place Remodeling Considerations Checklist

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Age in Place At Home/Home Accessibility Help

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Jan 19, 2022 @ 12:01 PM

AIPSTUD cover4-1

Everyone planning to remain in their home to Age in Place is looking for safety, security, ease of use, and comfort. Homeowners and families must plan for future housing needs. The current housing inventory does not offer the features needed for safety and accessibility in the numbers required to accommodate the growing demand. They have weighed the costs of institutional living compared to their home’s expenses. They also realize the difference in adhering to stringent rules in a facility instead of independently and freely residing in their present home.

Before and after retirement is an excellent time to prepare the house for what comes next in life—before any significant health issues appear. Choosing to Age in Place earlier in life using Universal Design techniques means a family can longer enjoy the home without obstruction. Their relatives, visitors, and children have peace of mind assured the aging loved ones or the chronically ill are safer living at home.

The truth is, with professional help, you can adapt almost any home environment to enable you and everyone else in the family to live within it to the fullest extent safely. The process is not age-related. Disability can strike any family member at any age. The need for greater home accessibilty is the common thread. Universal Design or inclusive design is a design and building pathway that makes homes more accessible to all regardless of their age, mobility, or ability when appropriately used. The design process offers a seamless path for Aging in Place. It addresses the requirements of special needs families or multigenerational situations. Solutions for diverse living conditions are now becoming a possibility.

Regardless of size or ability, people are becoming more familiar with Universal Design and Aging in Place if considering a home remodeling project. Some people use these words interchangeably, but while they are similar, they do differ. Both are specific design techniques used in making a home more comfortable and accessible for individuals of different abilities. Universal Design deals more with customized new dwellings and a proactive remodeling approach for people wanting to Age in Place before any health issues arise. Aging in Place strictly involves remodeling existing homes to accommodate physical needs brought on by sudden health issues in a reactive manner. The costs for both processes represent a beneficial investment in your home for future needs as opposed to merely spending involving aesthetically pleasing remodeling projects.

I came to realize over my building career that including cramped twisting hallways with narrow doorways, bathrooms lacking maneuvering space and usability, kitchens without accessible storage and workspaces, and stepped home entries were repeating home design flaws. The home building industry has always lacked inclusion for all homeowners with their ever-changing needs.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

As a Certified Aging in Place (CAPS) professional (#1636580), I am confident this book, which will hopefully be available toward the end of 2022, will introduce you to a new way of thinking about your home's future. It offers a guide for solving diverse home needs for all people affected by varying physical conditions and aging. I decided to write this book due to many customer requests for a summation of suggestions to improve their home's accessibility, comfort, usefulness, and sustainability and, ideas they could share with others.  I based the information provided on countless past walkthroughs and home assessments. Inside, you can discover room by room the benefits of using the principles of Universal Design and how to incorporate them periodically throughout your living environment at your own pace. I guide you through a home, making suggestions for what will increase your and your family's future accessibility.  You will notice the chapters involving the bathroom and kitchen are pretty extensive. They represent the most important rooms to consider when planning to Age in Place. The most utilized rooms in our homes must accommodate all diverse residents and visitors.

Would you please not allow your home to hold you or your loved ones captive within its walls and enable your home to conform to you and the needs of your family. Please think ahead positively and proactively while preparing for the future. IT JUST MAKES GOOD SENSE.

Home Accessibility Help

#accessiblehomes

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CAPS Services In Austin, Texas

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Thu, Dec 16, 2021 @ 15:12 PM

What are CAPS services and what does CAPS stand for? First of all, CAPS stands for Certified Aging in Place Specialist. The aging societal changes and inventory of inaccessible existing houses created the need for a CAPS certification program. This designation program, offered through the National Association of Home Builders, NAHB, in collaboration with The American Association of Retired Persons or AARP, incorporates components of assessment, technical knowledge, and management skills related to home modifications used to help people stay at home safely and independently for a longer period of time. The program was developed in 2001.

Accessible Shower in Austin

The services offered by a CAPS professional varies from a complete accessible remodel to improving certain areas in the home like bathrooms or kitchens. The precise modifications increase usability according to personal needs of the homeowner and family. The CAPS program connects responsible professionals with homeowners needing specialized accessibility services on an ever-increasing basis. Ordinary homeowners with extraordinary challenges partner up with experienced CAPS professionals and their own families. Working as a team, the trained CAPS specialist along with any family caretakers or therapists is able to identify the day-to-day problems weighing on those with health limitations. Aging in Place services provided by a specialized remodeling contractor ensures all accessibility issues of the home are accomplished correctly. T-Square Company located in Austin, Texas is one of the specialized CAPS certified contractors.

The CAPS credential is a nationwide initiative and many construction and design professionals are taking advantage of the helpful training across the nation. David L. Traut, president, and owner of T-Square Company is an active CAPS member (#1636580) and has participated in the program for over a decade. Furthermore, he has actively completed accessibility design/build remodels for over 25 years for the private sector, HUD, and the VA.  Always check a person's credentials to verify the remodeler holds an active CAPS certification and is familiar with Universal Design. All registered CAPS program graduates and remodeling companies are listed in a national registry in Washington DC. The information is found by calling 1-800-368-5242 or by simply visiting their website at: http:www.nahb.org/en/learn/designations/certified-aging-in-place-specialist.aspx.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

If the current pandemic taught us anything concerning safety and institutional living situations, we now know it is much safer to remain in your home surrounded by familiar surroundings and friends. During the stay-at-home mandates, everyone was aware of what Aging in Place meant. We all became better acquainted with our homes and family members. The best way to approach a desire to Age in Place is by being proactive before an illness takes control of your life. At that point, you must deal with it in a reactive manner. There are many differences between home modifications and a home remodel. The main difference is home modifications involve investing in your familiar home versus spending during remodeling. Home modifications are used to enhance your ADL (Activities of Daily Living) whereas remodeling deals more with aesthetics. Investing in your home will benefit your future retirement years by making your home conform to your needs.  

T-Square Company in Austin, Texas is a CAPS certified remodeler and offers design/build Aging in Place projects using principles of Universal Design. Call 512-444-0097 to discuss your project today and learn how you can achieve better accessibility within your existing home. Our knowledge and experience can help solve your personal needs within your existing home. Whether you need a safer shower, wider doorways, a zero-step entrance, or a more accessible kitchen to entertain your family and friends, T-Square Company is here to help.

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Remodel Your Bathroom Wisely For Future Needs/Accessible Bathrooms

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Fri, Nov 12, 2021 @ 15:11 PM

As a universal design/build construction company located in Austin, Texas, T-Square Company realizes that building for your future changing needs is a very valuable consideration concerning all your periodic remodeling projects. We always design for the future for our clients, regardless of their age or abilities. This thought process is especially true when designing a bathroom upgrade. Being a nationally CAPS certified remodeler, we are very aware your personal needs can change in the blink of an eye. The daily tasks of getting into the bathroom, bathing, showering, using the toilet, or brushing your teeth can become almost impossible without assistance if you don't address your bathroom's inaccessibility in a proactive manner. Any revisions must be completed before you absolutely need the help. Design shortcomings become ever so noticeable if you have an accident and are recovering at home or a debilitating disease sets in. Most all problems caused by architectural barriers will be eliminated with a handicap accessible bathroom remodel.

We are certain that avoiding emergency remodeling while incorporating Universal Design techniques into your home whenever possible is a great way of enhancing your health, independence, and safety. This practice also provides a better overall quality of life. The sooner the main inaccessible areas in your home are addressed, the longer you and your family have to enjoy them. For those desiring to Age in Place, as in safely living in your own home for as long as possible, gradually incorporating the principles of Universal Design into all remodeling projects provides a seamless gateway for successful aging. So, what are the main concerns when designing a bathroom for the future?

 

Getting Into The Bathroom

Accessible bathroom in Austin

When possible, you should always install a 36-inch wide door into your bathroom allowing all mobility devices to enter without obstruction. Sometimes it's easier when walls cannot be altered or removed to make a large double door entry into the bathroom. Replacing the original twenty-four to twenty-eight-inch wide door offers maximum accessibility for anyone. This universal design element provides clear approaches toward all bathroom fixtures from an adjoining room.  Additionally, an unobstructed 60-inch wheelchair turning radius is shared by the bathroom and adjacent room.

 

An Accessible Shower

ADA shower in Austin, Texas

A safe, low-profile (1 1/2" tall) accessible shower with roll-in capability from an add-on ramp suits the needs of most diverse homeowners. Even if you don't require the grab bars during a particular phase of your life, installing adequate blocking before the tile is installed provides a universal path for your future needs once the bars are required. Take note, the grab bars must be able to withstand a shear force of 300 pounds. Their purpose is to provide support and stability when you need it most. Clutter within the shower and especially on the shower floor is a safety hazard. Recessed shampoo niches keep shampoo bottles and other items off the floor. Additionally, folding shower seats are far safer than free-standing models that are rarely ever in the right place. They save space when folded while not in use and never interrupt the use of a shower chair. It is a common misconception that shower controls must be mounted on one wall underneath the fixed shower head. Shower valves can be installed anywhere they are most convenient for the user, especially if a caretaker is involved. A recessed shower can light above the shower decreases shadows and further increases safety.

 

Using The Toilet

ADA accessible toilet in Austin

When a toilet exists in a confining room or space, there is no easy way of approaching it if you have mobility problems and especially if you are using any kind of mobility device. After all, safety is the predominant concern when using the toilet. Remove all restricting walls and narrow doors so everyone can freely approach and use the toilet. Once again, grab bars increase safety when they are required and must be adequately prepared for installation. Another problem with toilets involves those that are too short requiring deep knee bends for using them. A higher comfort height toilet offers significant help with this problem. Be sure the flush handle is toward the open side of the bathroom.

 

Brushing Your Teeth

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Offering adaptability in a vanity is a universal design aspect. Everyone has equal access while standing or using a wheelchair--if only for a short time during recoveries. More adaptability is offered using multiple height countertops. Lever faucets are easier for everyone to operate, even for those users with arthritis. Motion-sensor faucets create washing areas that are completely hand-free.

 

When you are ready to take the next steps toward your accessible future, contact T-Square Company in Austin, Texas. We can show you how to address your personal needs using our more than thirty years of knowledge and design/build accessibility experience. We guarantee to keep you safer in your existing home longer and out of dangerous and uncaring institutions using our proven design methods. We offer all handicap accessible home renovations or additions--especially accessible bathrooms.

David L. Traut, CAPS #1636580

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Who Do You Hire for an Aging in Place Project?

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Mon, Mar 29, 2021 @ 15:03 PM

The biggest and most important challenge for any homeowner wanting to increase accessibility using Universal Design to Age in Place is qualifying a chosen builder or remodeler. Consumers must verify the tradesman or professional has both the experience and knowledge for understanding any requirements used to increase the client’s safety and accessibility within the home. This is the only variable a homeowner controls in the building process. You are about to give a complete stranger your trust in a very serious matter of which you most likely know little about beyond articles read on the internet or hearsay. All professionals selected must be knowledgeable and experienced concerning Universal Design projects. The relevant personnel having job input concerning the client consist of architects, designers, builders, remodelers, and any therapists or extended healthcare workers who are involved with any household occupant requiring home modifications. I have witnessed clients who are completely overwhelmed and frustrated when interviewing several groups of building professionals including subcontractors with overlapping scopes of work. They become confused by the large amount of information gathered. Be advised that too many cooks in the kitchen can spoil a successful job outcome. CAPS certified accessibility specialists are trained to be better capable of helping with both the design and construction phases of the project. Most CAPS members have had coursework in Universal Design. However, you would not choose a recent law graduate over an experienced defense attorney to represent you in a serious matter. Even though both people have law degrees, there is only one path to choose. The remodeling business is no exception. All CAPS certified professionals are not equal. Some come from different professional backgrounds other than construction while others have not used their acquired knowledge long enough to make a difference. Ask about their experience and how long they have practiced Aging in Place remodeling. A well-seasoned contractor has seen what issues frequently come up in making improvements for Aging in Place and knows which methods he or she has used to overcome certain problematic areas of the home.

Aging in Place remodeling in Austin

The aging societal changes and inventory of inaccessible existing houses created the need for a CAPS certification program. This designation program, offered through the National Association of Home Builders, NAHB, in collaboration with The American Association of Retired Persons or AARP, incorporates components of assessment, technical knowledge and management skills related to home modifications used to help people stay at home safely and independently for a longer period of time. The program was developed in 2001. The CAPS program connects responsible professionals with home owners needing specialized accessibility services on an ever increasing basis. Ordinary homeowners with extraordinary challenges partner up with experienced CAPS professionals and their own families. Working as a team, the trained CAPS specialist along with any family caretakers or therapists is able to identify the day to day problems weighing on those with health limitations. Aging in Place services provided by a specialized remodeling contractor ensures all accessibility issues of the home are accomplished correctly. The CAPS credential is a nationwide initiative and many construction and design professionals are taking advantage of the helpful training across the nation. Always check his or her credentials to verify the remodeler holds an active CAPS certification and is familiar with Universal Design. All registered CAPS program graduates and remodeling companies are listed in a national registry in Washington DC. The information is found by calling 1-800-368-5242 or by simply visiting their website at: http:www.nahb.org/en/learn/designations/certified-aging-in-place-specialist.aspx.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

Experienced CAPS certified remodelers have the knowledge, expertise and sensitivity to provide modifications for making a home safer, more accessible, and better suited to the client’s required needs. A professional CAPS certified builder or remodeler is able to correctly assess the costs associated with an accessible design and lead the homeowner in the right direction adhering to the available budget costs to accomplish the modifications needed. Home modifications, accessibility products, and barrier free design greatly promote the independence and functional ability of physically challenged and aging individuals. Designing around specific physical conditions for accessibility lessens the impact of arthritis, restricted mobility, or loss of vision by using combinations of products, concepts, and techniques available today. Keep in mind when hiring a Certified Aging in Place Specialist they offer a service rather than a product. Each CAPS member draws from a different knowledge base, and approaches each project in a distinct way.

T-Square Company in Austin, Texas is a CAPS certified remodeler and offers design/build Aging in Place projects using principles of Universal Design. Call 512-444-0097 to discuss your project today and learn how you can achieve better accessibility within your existing home.

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Future Home Building Using Universal Design

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

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

Universal Design Kitchen in Austin

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

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

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

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

Discover the Principles Of Universal Design

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The Universal Design Laundry

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Dec 23, 2020 @ 13:12 PM

     Like in the garage of the home, the laundry is often overlooked when planning a Universal Design setting to Age in Place. The washer and dryer are separate units arranged side by side. If stacking, the upper drying unit is not accessible for a seated user. They are front loading machines not top loading models. This arrangement allows the user to look directly into either machine while accomplishing their duties. One problem concerning these appliances is like that of the dishwasher. If they are sitting directly on the floor, a seated person does not have a direct line of sight inside to see the garments. To solve this problem, just like the dishwasher, the machines are raised placing them upon a platform or pedestal. Many manufacturers offer matching pedestals around twelve inches tall. The advantage of using the matching pedestals is they often include a drawer unit for storing items.

A Universal Design Laundry in Austin

When configuring the Universal Design laundry room, provide a clear five foot turning radius directly in front of the washer and dryer for approaching both machines. If the laundry room is large enough, a 30 x 48 inch approach area is associated with the machines as with all appliances. This configuration is also used if the machines are in a closet. A useful detail for either situation is to have machines provided with opposite swing doors both opening from the middle. This way a person is between the machines with access to both for sorting clothes at the same time. Otherwise one machine door becomes an architectural barrier for anyone in a wheelchair.

A larger laundry room has both natural and layered lighting. A window is so important in the heat gaining laundry for additional ventilation during certain times of the year and providing natural light for working. Along with an AC duct, install a vented exhaust fan in the laundry decreasing humidity as it becomes a problem. As with any Aging in Place designs, well-lit rooms are much easier to work in for everyone. Additional task lighting is installed wherever needed like underneath wall cabinets.

To gain entrance to the laundry room, a minimum 36” door coming off the accessible route is required. A five foot clear turning radius in the middle of the room offers clear approaches to the sink, machines, ironing and hanging facilities. Pocket or barn doors are a great choice for a laundry entrance requiring no planning for their swing or the space needed when they are opened. Laundry activities are loud at times so plan for deadening them with the door choice. The laundry room needs ample room in order to approach and maneuver. Accessible and adequate storage is a major consideration. Just like in the kitchen, a laundry sink has roll under capability for a wheelchair user. The sink has an associated 30 x 48 inch clear area in front for approach in the layout. The faucet is an easily operated accessible pull out model and the cabinet top is installed at a universal 34 inch height. Here again, multiple height cabinet tops work well in different areas of the room. Additional cabinets and adjustable shelving are placed as space permits using universal heights and reach distances. A fold down clothes folding shelf is great as needed with roll under capability. When not in use it is folded away against the wall gaining back the original floor space.

Discover the Principles Of Universal Design

Racks and shelving are installed for hanging and sorting clothes. Keep in mind the 48 inch reach limit for a seated person. Ironing clothes is a usual chore with the laundry but ironing boards are always in the way no matter where they are assembled. To solve this problem, install an adjustable fold up model which is also rolled under. When not in use the ironing board is stored in the accompanying wall cabinet regaining the floor space. These ironing board units are available with a separate electrical outlet inside for the iron preventing running extension cords creating trip hazards. There are also folding ironing board drawer units which are installed in a base cabinet or below a work top. The drawback with these units is the lack of flexibility since they are installed at a fixed location and height.

Aging In Place Home Modifications

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Universal Kitchen Design

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

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

Universal Design Kitchen in Austin

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

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

ADA Kitchen Cabinetry

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

Increase Your Accessibility

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Universal Design Bedroom

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

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

Universal design/build  project in Austin

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

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

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

Home Accessibility Help    

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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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