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

Future Home Building Using Universal Design

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

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

Universal Design Kitchen in Austin

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

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

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

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

Principles Of Universal Design

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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.

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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Maneuvering In and Around The Accessible Home

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

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

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

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

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

Home Accessibility Help

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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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Accessible Home Builder In Austin

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Thu, Oct 24, 2019 @ 13:10 PM

     An accessible home refers to the construction or modification of housing to enable independent living for disabled people. Usability or accessibility is accomplished through universal design techniques and proper planning around the homeowner's personal abilities. There is no "one size fits all" for an accessible home design when considering the many types of disabilities.  Furthermore, no one disability is experienced the same by everyone. Once inside the home, accessibility can be further enhanced by using adaptable and universal products, components, and finishes. The slightest change found in an accessible design can make the greatest difference for a homeowner living with a disability.

     T- Square Company located at 14141 Highway 290 West, Suite 800 in Austin, Texas is an industry leading accessible, universal, certified Aging in Place and VA approved Specially Adapted Housing accessible home builder and remodeler. We offer design/build projects for both totally accessible homes from the ground up and complete handicap modifications for existing homes to age in place. Traditional home builders and remodelers do not consider or understand the needs of the disabled or elderly. They deal mainly with the two thirds of our society without disabilities. They do not have the knowledge or experience required to think out of the box when creating a special needs home. It requires an educated accessible home builder and contractor to realize special needs for special people. T-Square Company will design and build you an adapted living environment which is completely customized toward your abilities. Whether your project concerns home modifications, an accessible addition or wing, or new construction using handicap accessible floor plans generated around the client so we can help you increase your accessibility. We are CAPS certified (1636580) and have over three decades of building and remodeling experience practicing as a disability contractor for special needs. We want to help our clients be as self sufficient and independent as possible. Let us show you how to increase the safety and accessibility within your personal living environment.

Disability Contractors For Special Needs

home accessibility help in Austin, Texas

 

Home Accessibility Help

 

    Handicap accessible floor plans or designs can include level no step entries, single level designs, smart home features, wider hallways and doorways, adequate maneuvering space for a wheelchair turning radius throughout the home, non-slip flooring, ramps to overcome level changes, residential elevators, clear unobstructed walkways, special area lighting, accessible closets and storage, roll out or pull out shelving, easy grab door hardware and electric door openers, automatic and graspable faucets, full extension drawers, accessible switches and outlets, automated controls, roll in showers, ADA roll under vanities, counter tops, and work spaces, accessible kitchen designs, accessible appliances, and many other specialty features designed around the homeowner's abilities and needs. Basically the rooms in an accessible home are more spacious while the amount of architectural barriers within the home is decreased. Accessibility is very important in the bathroom, kitchen, and the most visited living areas of the home.

     Architects and designers with the help of CAPS professionals have been revising design basics in the recent past, creating design principles and strategies that accommodate the full range of human capability. This field of flexible or inclusive design is called Universal Design and its goal is to create easily accessible living and working spaces. Instead of appearing as a hospital extension, the designs are appealing and stylish and comfortable for everyone, not just the severely disabled among us. The world of boundaries and barricades is beginning to lessen and catch on nationwide one home at a time. This is a testament to the disabled population demanding equal access as the ADA rules which came about in 1990. Unfortunately the ADA rules do not apply to the residential market and disabled homeowners need to depend on the knowledgeable CAPS certified private sector of builders and remodelers.  Every home should be accessible to all inhabitants and their visitors regardless of their age, size, or physical abilities.  Caring for someone with special needs is a unique and sometimes lifelong challenge. Whether it’s a child born with a disability, someone who has suffered an unfortunate accident or medical event causing them to lose abilities they once had, or an older family member in declining health needing assistance with daily life, the work of a special needs contractor can help make things easier for both the affected individual and their caregivers.

 

Principles Of Universal Design

 

     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.  Contact T-Square Company for a personal assessment at 512-444-0097.  We pride ourselves on helping our customers stay healthy, independent, and safe.

 

Elder Construction

 

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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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Austin Home Remodeling For Disabled

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Sep 04, 2019 @ 10:09 AM


     Our existing architecture does not lend itself well to accomplishing any easy aging in place home remodels in Austin.  In fact, there are more inaccessible homes in all of the US than there are accessible homes and 45% of these existing homes are owned by the baby boomers representing the oldest group of homeowners.  Generally speaking in most residential US properties there are no easy ways to enter into bathrooms or utilize  kitchens without coming into contact with one architectural  barrier or another-especially if a wheelchair or walker is being used to help with mobility issues.  While an estimated 80% of aging homeowners have a firm plan to age in place, everything requires the proper clearance and distance for a new customized accessible route in your home to function properly provided by wheelchair remodeling.

     The concept of successful aging has become increasingly important as senior citizens begin to dominate the population. An active engagement in life through participation in social and productive activities is one component of successful aging. The built environment directly impacts the engagement profiles of older adults so it is necessary to provide environments designed to suit the needs of aging adults. Of all the design theories that attempt to accommodate the aging process, universal design may be the most desirable option as it provides built environments that benefit everyone. Universal design is a promising voluntary philosophy that requires increased attention from designers and builders participating in aging in place. Taken as a whole, it is evident that the application of universal design to the built environment is a positive step toward successful aging.

Principles Of Universal Design

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

  But you say to yourself that  your needed aging in place home modifications basically require general home remodeling in Austin, Texas or in any other town for that matter.  Aging in place services provided by a specialized remodeling contractor holding a national CAPS certificate is who you need as a partner to insure that  the accessibility issues of your home are solved correctly.  With over 30 years of remodeling experience I obtained my registered CAPS certificate.  By offering a design/build firm to my aging in place customers, I get personal satisfaction from giving my clients their independence back while the remain in their existing home.  Without the training required to earn the CAPS certificate on top of my decades of building knowledge I could not offer my customers such a thorough and complete solution for solving their accessibility issues.  Only an experienced qualified remodeler holding a CAPS certificate has the qualifications to design an accessible route and perform the construction required to make it safe and functional for the Aging In Place customer.  There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a person with mobility impairments be able to independently roll into his or her shower and be a part of that accomplishment.

Download Our Free Aging In Place Remodeling Considerations Checklist

  Let's compare the alternative costs associated with aging in place verses when you already own your home.   The more institutional alternative of assisted living accompanied by more medical expertise and staff training plus the access to emergency medical facilities is available as opposed to renting an apartment.  These are two of the main alternative choices for seniors who decide not to remain in their own homes.   According to a national study done in 2014, the average cost for assisted living ranged from $3,000 to $3,500 per month.  However, if you decide to age in place in a high quality one bedroom apartment, the rent will run around $1,300 per month.  Seniors living in their own home or with loved ones represents a preference by most seniors and property taxes must be taken in account.

     An average Aging in Place bathroom home modification providing total accessibility given there is a large space to remodel at onset will come in around $30,000.  This can vary in many aspects if there is not enough room to change the existing floor plan.  Smaller bathrooms can cost $15-20,000 but will not have the barrier free accessibility as the larger modified bathroom.  Fully accessible kitchens will run on the average of $50,000 depending on the size of the existing kitchen.  These are both one time costs for sustainability of a given lifestyle and location providing future independence and safety for the homeowner who participates in accessible home remodeling.  A wheelchair accessible roll in shower alone can cost $15,000 depending on the given plumbing situation and the size required for maneuverability. Many aging homeowners are more than willing to accept these costs if the modifications will give them the freedom to age in place.

     There are five criteria which must be modified in a home to provide a highway for aging in place.

Widen Doorways

If a senior relies on mobility aids, such as a walker or wheelchair, to navigate through her home, widening doorways is a must-have home modification. Depending on the insulation and placement of electrical switches and outlets in the home, costs vary greatly for widening doorways.

Install Ramps

Exterior stairs may be a challenge for seniors who are unsteady on stairs or who have balance issues, so installing ramps is a necessary home modification that is well worth the cost to provide greater independence. CAPS certified contractors are trained in building and installing ramps of the correct height and slope for seniors.

Indoor threshold ramps are also necessary home modifications for older adults who use wheelchairs. These indoor ramps provide smooth transitions from one surface to another, making it safer to navigate throughout the home. The threshold ramps often are constructed of rubber, so they’re easily adjustable to accommodate the step or door jamb height that is involved in the transition.

Kitchen Modifications

As seniors age, they may find that their appliances are no longer in ideal locations and that their counter tops and cabinetry are too high, especially if they are in a wheelchair. Every appliance must be placed within the reach distance for a seated person between 18 and 48 inches.  Professional Caps certified contractors may need to come in and adjust the counter height and lower the sink, to allow for easier access from a seated position. Additionally, seniors aging in place often find it easier when microwaves are placed in microwave stands, as opposed to being at the back of the counter or in raised microwave cabinets.  Providing multi-level counter tops is a way to give accessibility to everyone in the kitchen.

Shower and Bathtub Modifications

A senior opting to age in place also should consider home modifications for the bathroom, particularly the bathtub. One option is a bathtub to shower conversion, which provides a much easier and safer entry and exit than a bathtub. A second bathroom modification option is to replace a traditional bathtub with a walk-in tub.

Roll in showers without curbs are advised for everyone on a universal level for an accessible bath.  A 5 feet square clear floor space is an optimum size when a caretaker is involved. Using a 32-36"  wide barrier free entrance in a shower partition with an out-swinging door is advised for everyone.  Remember wider is better in all respects. Upon exiting the shower a clear floor space of 30"x48" for approach to the shower should be present and this area intersects with a five feet turning radius within the room. The shower should contain a shower wand on a sliding bar mounted at 48" above the floor to be available for varying heights of use accompanied by a regular height fixed shower head above.  These diverse shower heads are both regulated using a diverting controller valve.  Always use a shower valve that is thermostatically controlled and pressure-balanced to prevent scalds. If you desire a full body wash, you can include a regular shower head as well. Installing fixtures with a scald guard or lowering the temperature at the water heater is a must to prevent burns. Fold down seats attached to the shower wall are useful if caretakers are involved. Recessed shampoo niches are helpful to eliminate clutter on the shower floor.  Secure grab bars installed on wood grounds buried within the walls around the entire shower perimeter installed at 34-36" above the finished shower floor increases the safety factor and helps to prevent falls.  A recessed can light fixture should be installed above the shower area for proper lighting. All of the bathroom floor surface must be nonskid type to prevent slipping on a guaranteed wet floor. The ultimate goal in accessible design is to make the bathroom space safe for everyone who uses the bathroom. Universal design can better accommodate wheelchair users and can make the bathroom more comfortable for all users and many times can be done without sacrificing style. It is important to carefully plan the building or remodeling for a wheelchair accessible bathroom by taking inventory of the users capabilities and preferences.

If a senior wants to keep his existing bathtub, or cannot afford to replace it, there are less expensive modifications that can be made to prevent slips and falls in the bathtub. One modification is to add a grab bar to the tub, while another is to install safety strips. Both of these simple modifications can help prevent slips and falls in the bathtub.

Yet another modification for the bathtub, which is less expensive than replacing the bathtub or shower, is to purchase a bathtub transfer bench. Transfer benches straddle the side of the bathtub, enabling seniors to sit safely on the bench while getting into the tub by lifting each leg, one at a time, over the bathtub wall. Getting into the tub while seated greatly reduces the risk of dangerous slips and falls for seniors. Some seniors who cannot spare the required bathroom floor space for bathtub transfer bench legs opt for bathtub chairs, which sit completely inside the bathtub. Seniors may be able to turn around and sit on the chair with both legs outside of the tub and then lift one leg at a time over the tub wall while seated.

Flooring Modifications

Flooring is another consideration for older adults making home modifications with the goal of aging in place. The first step is to evaluate the home’s existing floors. If the carpet is older and shaggy, you may want to consider replacing it with new carpeting that has a shorter nap. Seniors are less likely to trip on shorter-nap carpeting, and it’s also more suitable for seniors who navigate through the home with the use of a walker or wheelchair.

Hardwood, tile, laminate, and vinyl floors are smooth and may allow for easier wheelchair maneuvering, but they also tend to be more slippery than carpeting. People often use throw rugs on these types of flooring, so be sure that you either get rid of them or securely tape them down to prevent trips and falls.  Using the proper tile with an acceptable coefficient of friction will prevent slipping even when wet.

     The best way to prepare for aging in place is to have a definite plan considering all possible outcomes and needs for those involved.  Aging in place isn't for everyone like those with major health issues.  For others with more independence, it can be a practical decision providing quality of life and safety for many years.  Everyone's needs are different as we age and one must allow for flexibility and change for all future decisions.

     The best course of action to take when making home modifications for seniors aging in place is to consider all of the areas of the home that present the most trouble or concern. If there are things that are especially difficult for seniors, like reaching the counter tops or light switches, modify them. If there are potential tripping or falling hazards, eliminate them or modify them accordingly. Taking a proactive approach to modifying the home means that seniors can age in place independently while their loved ones have peace of mind knowing that their aging loved ones are safer in their homes.

      Construction and design professionals are taking advantage of the CAPS training across the nation. This designation is taught through the National Association of Home Builders in collaboration with AARP. CAPS connects responsible professionals with home owners who need these services on an ever increasing basis. CAPS is a nationwide initiative and all active CAPS professionals can be found at nahb.org/CAPSdirectory.  David L. Traut, CAPS the owner of T-Square Company in Austin, Texas is one of the select group of professionals nationwide to earn the Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) designation, identifying him as a home remodeler and builder with the skills and knowledge necessary to remodel or modify a home to meet the unique needs of the older population, disabled owners, or their visitors.

 ACCESSIBLE BATHROOM WITH WHEELCHAIR ACCESS


Happy Trail AIP 016.jpg


 Aging In Place Home Modifications

Wheelchair Accessible Remodeling

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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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