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

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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Universal Design Bedroom

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

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

Universal design/build  project in Austin

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

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

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

Home Accessibility Help    

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Maneuvering In and Around The Accessible Home

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

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

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

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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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Aging in Place versus Universal Design

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Nov 04, 2020 @ 15:11 PM

The Universal Design concept is not as age driven as the Aging in Place issue. Universal Design addresses the design of all new and existing homes. Aging in Place exclusively concerns architectural changes made to existing homes through remodeling. Both are specific design techniques used to make a home safer and more comfortable for individuals of different abilities but are applied at different times during a homeowner’s lifespan. Each concept offers increased accessibility and usability to homeowners. Universal Design is one of inclusion benefiting the whole family. It is performed at any time in preparation for the family’s future. The process concerns children, parents, and grandparents making it of paramount importance in multi-generational homes. Aging in Place addresses coping with health conditions in an existing home for the person the home modifications are done for. It takes into account the principles of Universal Design. Aging in Place occurs abruptly when no previous alterations or revisions were ever accomplished for increasing future accessibility.

Home Accessibility Help

Universal Design Entrance in Austin

There is a distinct physical difference between the two methods once they are applied. Universal Design benefits from proactive planning producing permanent and long lasting modifications. For instance, Aging in Place design includes installing an aluminum ramp for accessing a stepped front porch for entering the front door. Using Universal Design a gradually sloping concrete sidewalk approach is installed to overcome the same steps to the front porch. The Universal Design process blends into the home and is not noticeable. The much faster and more frugal accessibility changes for Aging in Place deal directly with the homeowner’s or someone else within the family’s environmental needs. Universal Design, however, offers gradual choices through proactive planning to all of a home's residents no matter their age or physical capabilities concerning the future. Universal Design represents a paradigm transformation in how new homes or remodels are designed and built providing greater adaptability to everyone. The understanding, recognition, and use of Universal Design define the metamorphosis in future home building. The majority of consumers no longer accept track home builders offering inaccessible A, B, or C floor plans. A well thought out universal home design makes a difference in how well it accommodates the needs of all occupants and visitors throughout time. By adopting the Universal Design concept, consumers limit or reduce the need for further adaptations later to homes while beginning to Age in Place.

Aging In Place Home Modifications

 

 

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The Basics Of Aging In Place

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Oct 28, 2020 @ 14:10 PM

Along with the exponential birth rate of the baby boomers in the late 40’s and 50’s, 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 because the greatest majority of individuals want to age where they currently reside. 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 the maturing years. Everyone is living longer only to experience many life challenging events during an extended lifespan.

Aging In Place Remodel in Austin

According to the AARP, 80 percent of older home owners 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 modify their home as they mature increasing access and safety using 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.  The three main areas needing improvement for a person wanting to Age in Place is the bathroom, the kitchen, and the family area in that order.

Clearly the act of Aging in Place occurs during a period of time when seniors have the ability to make decisions to better support 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 condition 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 support responsible people living life with dignity and independence even when outside assistance is essential.

Download Our Free Aging In Place Remodeling Considerations Checklist

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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


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 Aging In Place Home Modifications

Wheelchair Accessible Remodeling

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Home Remodeling Austin, Texas

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Thu, Aug 29, 2019 @ 16:08 PM

     When it finally becomes apparent  that your existing home no longer fits the needs of your family,  it's time to reach out for professional help.  Whether you're looking for a local residential remodeling contractor in Austin, Texas to accomplish a kitchen remodel or a construction professional to complete an entire gutting and remodel of your entire home including a home office transformation,  the final accenting finishes most likely will include the use of fine cabinetry. The choice between frameless European and Northern face frame cabinetry styles will highlight practically any design.   Choosing the correct wood species can further add to the richness of the job.  Then there are those needed additions for a growing or multi-generational families that must blend with your home without being noticed.

Principles Of Universal Design

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

Kitchen Remodeling

      To begin with, kitchen upgrades and bathroom remodels return the most money at resale on the initial investment of the remodeling project.  National averages show that kitchen remodels recoup around 70% of the costs of the upgrade at the time of resale of the home.  However, your kitchen remodeling costs should never exceed 15% of the total value of your home.  Here is where you need to get your thinking cap on and plan for an affordable budget that is within your means.  Your material choices are very important and if you need to stay mid-level to fit the budget then do so.  The labor involved for the project will be around 1.6 times the cost of the materials used.  The total budget should allow $100 per square foot for your kitchen upgrade project.

     Any kitchen remodel will need to produce a better service or work triangle between the sink, refrigerator, and stove placement.  The shorter the sum of the triangle legs the more efficient the layout but islands can also be incorporated into the design to increase the efficiency.  The prep sink within the island can become it's own focal point of the work triangle displacing the duties of the main kitchen sink.  The orientation of the island toward the work triangle is very important making sure traffic can still flow freely within the designated triangle. Islands can contain all sorts of special storage areas.  Mixer lifts, produce storage drawers, wine storage, and dough board pullouts are just a few of the many useful aspects that can be incorporated into the island.

      Living with a dysfunctional bathroom layout reduces the total feeling of relaxation your master bath is capable of providing.   During those much deserved private moments you long for your bathroom's surroundings to provide both luxury and function.  There isn't adequate lighting for the many daily personal duties like applying makeup.   There needs to be adequate ventilation so you don't always feel as though you are housed in a "sweat box" while getting dressed. The outdated plate mirror extending from your vanity top's splash upward toward the drywall furrdown above has never been a design you thank the world of. You have always disliked that box above housing the poorly illuminating fluorescent tube lamps that are concealed by the yellowing plastic diffusing panel.  You are sick and tired of the poor storage facilities inherited when you purchased your home.  The height of the vanity is out of line according to your needs and it is also inadequate for your storage needs.  The existing cabinet layout contains unusable drawers beginning to come off their tracks and the cabinet doors have their own particular issues.  Your cabinets are either too deep to access what they contain or their storage capabilities have been limited by their total improper design.  What were those guys thinking?  What's more the out of fashion ceramic tiles are either partly missing or they are totally the wrong color for the day along with the colors within the rest of the room.  Having improperly working plumbing fixtures that are now also antiquated with their own set of problems is yet another quandary within itself.  The fixtures themselves can also be finished in a color that is long out of style.  So what do you do?
Handicap Home Modifications

     It is well past time to undergo a fine bathroom upgrade and makeover.  Bathroom remodeling can either be a pain or a pleasant experience according to the participants involved.  Bathroom remodeling in Austin, Texas like most other cities includes many of the same aspects.  Be sure to choose a qualified residential construction contractor whose personality and qualifications are agreeable with you personally.  You are about to undertake a very important short term relationship in your life with someone you may know by reputation only.  The relationship needs to be comfortable and free flowing thus enabling the contractor's creativity level to be at it's highest during your remodeling project. Look at it as a partnership between your needs and the remodeling contractor's abilities.  His professional remodeling experience will include his capacity to identify many construction limitations and hazards.   These variables underlie the major pitfalls that can be avoided while making a bathroom remodeling design come into reality.  His experience can also aid you in accomplishing bathroom upgrades that include disability issues.  Accessibility is what the project is about anyway.  The job needs to flow between the various trades involved to produce a better final outcome.  This too is a reflection on his remodeling experience for which there is no substitute.

     Bathroom plumbing fixture choices are numerous to say the least.  Select reputable companies offering the best warranties especially when considering finishes used on control valve trims and the fixtures installed in the project.   Larger walk in shower designs should have seamless fiberglass liners to avoid leaks if the house ever shifts.  Using natural stone or glass tiles while additionally designing in glass blocks will certainly be an upgrade. 

     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 the 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.

Bathroom Remodels

Home Remodeling In Austin

home remodeling Austin, Texas

 

     T-Square Company is a local General Contracting firm and builder with over 35 years of experience.  Our design/build services can show you how to make your dreams come true in a seamless manner.  Call us at 512-444-0097 today to find out how we can make your living environment better for you and your family.  We are CAPS certified to help our clients with special needs.

 

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What Is Universal Design?

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

    Universal design refers to broad-spectrum ideas meant to produce buildings, products and environments that are inherently accessible to older people, people without disabilities and people with disabilities. Universal Design adaptations have a broad market appeal to everyone for achieving ease of use, safety, and convenience accommodating a certain reality. The reality is that all people exist along a continuum of human performance as per their personal traits and characteristics regardless of their age. A universal approach to design takes into account that everyone has varying degrees of ability and disability rather than someone is either fully-functional or disabled. A universal design approach is appealing to all users no matter their age, size, or physical well being. Universal Design is important because our current design standards for housing do not address the design needs of more than one third of our population.  Too often the designers of homes allow the built environment to define the capabilities of the resident.  Universal Design allows for our antiquated architecture to be defined by both our changing human needs and abilities.

Principles Of Universal Design

     There are seven criteria or principles which must be met to be considered a universal design no matter which area of the home you are referring to. Any design must be equally useful to everyone, have flexibility in it's usefulness, be simple and intuitive, be perceived by everyone, have a tolerance for error, require little physical effort, and it must maintain an adequate area for approach and use. Any complexity or discriminating attribute to a design will doom it in terms of  being considered universal in nature. However what better way can you improve on a home's total visitability by everyone? Universal Design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.

 

Bathroom Using Universal Design Techniques

     Whether you refer to this revolution in housing today as accessible design, inclusive design, or universal design it is all about making a home safe, attractive, and easy to use for all of the inhabitants. It has nothing to do with the age, agility, or status of life for anyone living within the home. The main intent of this way of thinking is to be sure the inhabitants are able to enjoy their home throughout their entire lifetime utilizing the universal design principles which have been designed into their home when it was built. This way aging in place can be accomplished without the expense and hassle of having to make periodic changes to the home to meet a person's ever changing physical needs. You can plan for all stages of your life cycle with some fore thought which, once discovered, you find is just common sense. Even if you are in perfect health you can be disrupted by a minor mishap. A more serious injury can change things forever when you no longer have all your abilities.

     Universal Design principles do not equate to accessibility design even though they both are concerned with ergonomics and human function issues. The ADA guidelines for accessibility were created as a means to help those people with extreme disabilities within our society who are a narrow and specific cross section of the masses. A UD approach broadly takes into account moderate impairments or disabilities, temporary health conditions, and the varying abilities of anyone within a home regardless of their age or size. In other words, an ADA accessible home would be designed for the one person with the disability whereas a UD home is designed for everyone and should be used with any custom tub shower conversion.

     Home accessibility should be a concern no matter what your age. If your concerns are not for you, barring any life changing accident, they could concern the accessibility and safety of another generation's independence. As we age, our society is beginning to realize that our homes need to accommodate future life changes. The aging in place phenomena deals with home modifications to existing homes while a universal design home would hardly ever need to address these abrupt issues even though we cannot solve all the future issues for everyone. Everyone ages differently and has their own list of specific needs.

Universal Design Techniques

     A sensible checklist for a home concerning Universal Design would include but is not limited to:

1. Limiting stairs while avoiding sunken rooms or multi-story floor plans with raised entrances

2. Automating lighting while controlling groups of lighting throughout the home

3. Including natural lighting through doors, windows, and skylights

4. Using multiple shower heads in the shower with rain, conventional and hand held units

5. Incorporate curbless showers into the design of your bathroom for ease of entering no matter if a wheelchair is ever involved

6. When deciding on your faucets, door handles, or cabinet pulls always pass the closed fist test for operation

7. Use nonslip flooring especially in wet areas using cork or smaller floor tiles which in turn increase the grout lines

8. Create a correct kitchen work area with the shortest distance between the stove, sink, and refrigerator as possible

9. Provide accessible lower storage in base cabinets storing the most used items on pull out shelving or in drawers

10. Lower your upper cabinets to 15" above your 34" universal cabinet top

11. Leave at least 42" between your cabinets when 48" is much better

12. Have multiple height cabinet tops to double as work surfaces for those who are seated or other little helpers in the kitchen

Universal design ideas do not strictly deal with accessibility or aging in place design and does not implement precise ADA standards but it does offer flexibility to add accessories now and later to those planning ahead or to the end user. It also provides for a wide range of human performance characteristics for the way people use spaces within their homes including well integrated usability features. These adaptations have a broad market appeal to everyone for achieving ease of use, safety, and convenience accommodating a certain reality. That reality is that all people exist along a continuum of human performance as per their personal traits and characteristics regardless of their age. A universal approach to design takes into account that everyone has varying degrees of ability and disability rather than someone is either fully-functional or disabled. A universal design build project is appealing to all users.

Aging in place home modifications are available through T-Square Company in Austin. Each universal design/build situation will be customized to fit your personal needs. Call 512-444-0097 today to begin to prepare for the accessible second chapter of your life while remaining safe and secure in your existing home.

CAPS 1636580

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

 

 

 

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