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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Universal Bathroom Design

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

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

wheelchair bathroom design in Austin

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

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

Bathroom Remodels

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

Wheelchair Accessible Remodeling        

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Disability Remodeling Contractor In Austin

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Tue, Dec 03, 2019 @ 17:12 PM

     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.

Roll in shower in Austin

    Physical limitations affect many more people than the daily users of walkers and wheelchairs.  Many members of our society experience a need for elder construction having significant problems in dealing with their home environment.  Today's conventional building standards conflict with most people's accessibility when you consider our created architectural barriers concerning cabinetry and door opening widths, individual strength, range of motion, movement,  manual dexterity, balance, and coordination.  Once the demands of our built environment exceed their capacities we become excluded from a room or even the entire home.  The building world must work in unison to be sure the entire living environment meets basic needs in addition to affordability and structural integrity for the consumer and home owner.  This includes both the home and the components within the home being accessible to all inhabitants.  Privacy, sense of belonging, sense of control, and the sense of safety and security make up the quality of life for any home and should be considered for any design.

   When mobility becomes an issue for any homeowner or family member, regardless of age, the question arises concerning physically moving to a different home on one level with at least a bath that is more accessible. Austin handicap remodeling can help in preparing for one of those highly likely events involving someone in your home needing room modifications for even a short time while recovering from surgery is surely a smart move. Solving aging in place issues will soon become the number one challenge concerning the present obsolete housing inventory in our country.  Our present day obsolete homes now inhabited by the baby boomer generation will slowly and increasingly raise their outdated and obsolete ugly heads and expose their true lack of accessibility to those very people inhabiting them.  The situation will only become ever more expanding in time.   When these homes were previously purchased,  they represented an absolute castle in the world of their owners in which to prepare for a day and they also acted  as a retreat from life's tough interactions.  They housed our families, our memories, and our stuff.  They represented a place where we could be ourselves.  Our homes have always been exempt from any and all of the accessibility regulations that have been put in place since 1968 when our Viet Nam veterans were returning home. 

     The new evolving concept known as Universal Design for home remodeling is catching on nation wide and has been for several years as a sign of the times.  Universal design techniques used in building makes a home more accessible to all regardless of their mobility or adaptive abilities. An evolution of new products used for disability home modifications is making those homes more accessible and has finally come about in the remodeling industry.  These new advances in accessible home remodeling in Austin not only keep the living environments safer but will not compromise the home's aesthetics.  In fact, there are many benefits to using universal design techniques, including potential use by aging family members, added resale value, and the fact that you'll be creating a space that can be used by anyone who visits your home, regardless of their range of abilities. Simple universal design updates for aging in place home modifications and handicap accessibility can include adding grab bars or handrails throughout the home, adding a seat within the roll in shower, lowering upper cabinets and counter tops, adding non-slip flooring, widening hallways or installing stair lifts, and widening doors.  You might also consider lowering light switches and thermostats and installing easier to use door knobs.  You should try to provide a clear barrier free path or accessible route to the most visited areas of your home as recommended by the ADA. Remember that a more open space gives room for maneuverability while using any mobility aid required.

Wheelchair Accessible Remodeling

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

     Everyone ages differently and has different needs and wants.  The factors that constitute the aging in place market for all individuals are based on a persons genetic makeup, their lifestyle including the choices they have made while living their life, and their environment.  These factors have brought about the need for universal design.  This is the design of products, services, and environments that are usable by as many people as possible regardless of age, ability, or situation without the need for adaptation or specialized alterations.  It provides for the greatest safety and access for any home guests or occupants and is undetectable when done well.  Since so very few homes share the accessibility offered by universal design, to satisfy the needs of a particular household member brought about by an accident, an illness, or simply the aging process there will always be a need for customized accessibility features.  This will be accomplished by a CAPS accredited remodeling professional producing a truly functional design.   This same competent home remodeling company who understands and practices accessible home modifications in Austin should carry out the work to fit the design and insure your safety and accessibility.

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

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

Aging In Place Home Modifications

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Handicap Accessible Housing

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Tue, Aug 27, 2019 @ 12:08 PM

     The ADA is the Americans With Disability Act developed in the 1990's to be sure any person with a disability will have equal access to all public facilities and spaces. Unfortunately there are no restricted codes or regulations concerning residential bathrooms or disability access baths. However, these published guidelines for ADA accessibility concerning buildings and facilities is a great resource for ideas on how to make any home safer and easier to live in while aging in place.   Homes can become more accessible through bathroom remodels to people as they age. Many of these published guidelines for wheelchair accessible remodeling, particularly requirements for corridor and door widths, safety bars and proper access to different types of facilities can go a long way in extending the amount of time an elderly or physically impaired individual can live independently. This is the primary basis for ADA remodeling.

    In designing for specific physical conditions, we realize that aging doesn't always bring on disease while the body declines making certain physical limitations inevitable. Arthritis is the most common chronic condition to appear as it restricts ordinary daily activities. The lack of hand strength and stiff knees are indicative of this illness. This most reported arthritic condition affecting people over the age of 65 is followed by heart disease and vision loss in that order. Smart aging design and concepts can compensate for the introduction of frailty, lack of mobility, and blindness in aging in place families. We are constantly coming up with new methods for home modifications and household products to increase the comfort of our residential environments.

Principles Of Universal Design

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

     Mobility limitations vary dramatically but, depending on the personality of the individual, any diminished capacity creates feelings of dependence or depression. When considering an accessible home remodeling project, anticipate that any conditions you are experiencing will only progress for the worst with age. Simple changes to help with hand grip strength or coordination within the home can include large rocker type wall switches, touch controlled lamp switches, and converting round door knobs to lever sets. Mobility aids like walkers, canes, and wheelchairs need to be available at any time. People utilizing these mobility aids may use them all but at different times during the day or hopefully not at all. Accessible home remodeling must take this into account and be designed to accommodate them all as needed by the user.

Handicap Accessible Housing In Austin

Handicap accessible housing in Austin

 Home Accessibility Help

     Most residential housing is geared to young healthy adults. Builders do not take into account age-related conditions such as reduced mobility or limited range of reach. Hence, dwellings do not support the physical and sensory changes that older adults encounter as they age. What appear to be insignificant home features can have significant effect: for a person with even minor aging issues.

     Some permanent disabilities require constant wheelchair use. The home modifications must accommodate a person who is always seated. A five foot turning radius should be observed in the bathroom, kitchen, and living area so as not to restrict the movement of the wheelchair. An unobstructed barrier free accessible route will be determined during the assessment for wheelchair accessible remodeling. Clear wider hallways of at least 42" in width and doorways of at least a 32" clear width must be the standard. Light switches and cabinetry must be lowered where 48" is the reaching limit of a person sitting.

     Impaired memory and think presents a different set of problems to the aging in place specialist's design. Every effort must be made to limit the confusion of those utilizing the remodeled space. As with all progressive diseases , a patient's needs will change over time, any modifications or solutions may be effective only for short periods of time. Restricting the entrances to rooms that present the greatest hazards like the kitchen and bathroom must be taken into account during the assessment.

     Concerning visual challenges, good lighting that is not glaring, appropriate color choices, and contrasting elements within the room design are paramount as considerations for a design. Hearing limitations require LED lighting to indicate appliances being on. Doorbells, stove tops, and life safety devices need to be visual as well as audible.

     Accessible homes look much like other homes but they still help with handicap accessibility.  These homes often have a sunny open feeling since there are fewer walls between common areas.  Level floors create a comfortable flow between living areas and make rooms easier to keep clean.  The kitchen is more efficient having compact storage and the bathrooms are a little more spacious than in a traditional home.  The house is safe designed to reduce the potential for falls.  Adequate glare-free lighting is well positioned to prevent dark spots.  The accessible home is the home of the future representing the way we want to live right now.  Well-planned accessible homes lift the spirits and enhance dignity.  They have the ability to transform our relationships with our bodies and our homes.

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

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

     Along with aging in place, the use of universal design in handicap accessible home renovations is becoming more of a household term. 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.

Accessible Homes Of Austin

     Aging in place home modifications are available through T-Square Company in the Austin area. We have an A plus rating with the local BBB and have over 30 years of remodeling experience. We are additionally a certified aging in place specialist offering complete aging in place services.  Each design/build situation will be customized to fit your personal needs to increase your home 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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Bathroom Remodeling Contractors Austin, TX

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Aug 07, 2019 @ 13:08 PM

     If you have been considering a fine bathroom makeover or remodeling project in Austin there are a few things you should take into consideration.  Bathroom makeovers in Austin, Texas can take on many looks and facets.  The scope of work you choose to accomplish your bathroom transformation should effectively solve your problems and most importantly, your needs as the home owner.  The identification of these specific needs belongs to you the home owner.  The way your home is structurally altered to accomplish these needs is the job of the professional remodeling contractor.  Accessibility should be a concern no matter what your age.  If your concerns are not for you,  barring any life changing accident, they could concern the accessibility of another generation's independence is using the restroom.  CAPS professionals in the remodeling industry can help with solutions in solving these issues.  Bathroom remodeling contractors Austin, Texas can provide you with answers to your much thought about questions.

Principles Of Universal Design

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

     Just look at the different types of housing represented throughout Austin and the surrounding areas.  Smaller homes, cottages, sprawling historical town homes surrounded by architecturally pleasing fences, rustic ranch homes, Macmansions, and sleek high rise condominiums are just a few examples of the structures that define Austin's diverse housing landscape. Economic situations along with personal preference formulates where we choose to live in a town with such diversity.       Most people remember how the old style bathtub/shower combination was a standard part of any bathroom design.  Some residential showering areas were enclosed using the multicolored vinyl shower curtain option while others had bipassing or sliding shower doors on tracks.  The doors were framed with either chrome or gold colored aluminum matching the sliding tracks.  Modern bathroom designs have become much more sophisticated because the many available bathroom products are easier to be discovered by the homeowner.  There are millions of pictures representing fine bathroom upgrades or bathroom remodeling all across the internet.

    Certainly there are many upgrades available when planning a bathroom remodel.  A custom tub shower conversion can create a bold  look but will run you around $11,000.  There are no spending limits for bathroom remodels.   You can plan on spending around $12,000 to $15,000 for a hall bath remodel.   The price tag can approach or exceed $35,000 for a complete master suite remodel.  The type of fixtures and building components chosen along with the labor will compose the overall cost of the remodeling project.

Bathroom Remodeling Austin

     Keep in mind that moving plumbing, especially drains, is one of the more expensive aspects of a fine bathroom makeover involving floor demolition.  If you can limit and control the costs involved with this issue you will have more money to spend on the things that show off your endeavors.  Changing water supply line locations for a custom tub shower conversion is not as difficult as moving drains especially when they go into the main drainage system that resides underneath the finished floor.

     Proper lighting is always an important aspect to be installed during a bathroom remodel.  It can be broken down by task.  Recessed cylindrical can lighting is used today to provide the overall luminescence for the room.  Trims with lenses can be installed above baths and showers by code to brighten darker areas.  Light strips or single wall fixtures can be designed around the new framed beveled mirror that you have chosen.  The choice of bulbs utilized is yours for now at least.  Try using dimmers to control your new lighting creating mood. 

     Ventilation is so important when planning a bathroom upgrade because of the humidity involved.  Too many times a single exhaust fan is installed above the toilet, or what is much worse, in the center of the room.   Heat and humidity naturally rise and will overtake the entire room if given a chance. Today's quiet bathroom exhaust fans should be sized according to the room's air volume.  They should be located above any bathing or showering facility and above the toilet.  Conditioned air along with adequately sized duct work supplied by your central unit will further accentuate a pleasant feeling within the bath.

      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.  As for the new walk in shower design, you can design the space to not need a door for splash protection or you can take the route of a clean looking frameless glass shower enclosure.   This will surely set you back at least $900.  The end result will be a sophisticated  clean look of beauty enclosing your new shower.  Whether the door sits upon a curb or you have a specific need for a curbless situation you will be satisfied with your choice.

      Who do you choose to help you with your dream?  It is true that a professional remodeling contractor with years of experience will cost you more than a handyman illegally playing among the trades at your peril but then again there are those professional guarantees to  consider.  The professional verses the handyman is more likely to seek your overall satisfaction that will follow him into his next job.  A true building professional can also orchestrate the job's smooth flow limiting the down time of a most useful room.  Subcontractors will not be covered up and each skilled  trade is brought onto the sight as needed in an orderly fashion.  Professionals normally have insurance to cover on the job accidents to protect the homeowners from having legal action brought against them personally.  Be sure you ask for a certificate of insurance from your chosen professional contractor so that you aren't held personally liable for medical experiences covering a worker's accident while on your property.  Don't forget that only a certified aging in place (CAPS) professional can help you solve your accessibility issues.

     T-Square Company is a design/build remodeling contractor specializing in bathroom and kitchen remodels for over three decades in Austin.  Our CAPS certification helps provide accessibility to our clients with special needs because we have the knowledge and experience to work with.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

 

 Austin Bathroom Remodels

bathroom remodel Austin, TX

Bathroom Remodels

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Handicap Accessible Toilet

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Fri, Apr 26, 2019 @ 10:04 AM

     A bathroom designed for someone who is aging in place is very different than one based on aesthetics or home value. Remodeling when considering future needs requires intuitive thought and considerations before you begin. The issues to consider include a safe design having ease of use by everyone and the people who will be using the facilities. Remember that remodeling a bathroom will take time and effort and there will be costs involved. When someone wants to age in place it is worthwhile to explore a universal design bathroom design that is both comfortable and safe to use as the occupant’s personal needs change. The bathroom is one space in the home where safety is of the utmost importance. From the toilet, to the shower, the vanity, and onto the lighting, there are adaptations and products to help keep the bathroom a safe place for all.

Handicap Home Modifications In Austin

     The goal of an accessible bathroom design 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 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 holding a CAPS certificate. 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 AIP customer. Accessible bathrooms with custom walk in showers and kitchens are available using the right education and experience. Never consider hiring a "jack of all trades but master of none" type handyman to tear your bathroom apart. What's more, you certainly do not want to witness such a person struggling to piece the room back together attempting to achieve your long desired bathroom remodel idea. If so, you will absolutely learn a hard and invaluable lesson in getting what you pay for by accepting the handyman's cheapest bid.

Handicap Accessibility

     In 1990, The Americans With Disability Act (ADA) set forth the guidelines for accessibility within public and commercial buildings. We use these same guidelines today when designing for people's increased accessibility within their home since no laws exist for the residential marketplace. Most of the requirements are merely common sense when universal design techniques are practiced. For instance, the standards for toilets regulate the height, the clearance in front and to the sides, the positions of grab bars and toilet paper holders, and the operation of the flush mechanism.

     The height of a standard toilet is 17 inches or lower with 14 1/2 inches being the common height. The ADA guidelines mandate a distance between 17 and 19 inches from top of the seat to the floor on a handicap toilet. If the toilet is for use by children the height must be between 11 to 17 inches. The flush control is required to be on the open side of the toilet and should have easy one hand operation.

     If you're designing a bathroom for handicapped use, implementing ADA standards within the design make it easier for wheelchair bound people to maneuver around the toilet. Consider the placement of the toilet in relation to walls and barriers in the bathroom. Having a clear floor space with at least 48 inches between the walls on either side of the toilet to make it easier to negotiate the approach. The toilet should be positioned a distance of 18 inches from one of the walls to create an approach space on the opposite side of the toilet. If the lavatory is situated on a side wall it must be placed at least 18 inches from the toilet. Space requirements in front of an ADA toilet vary according to the placement of the toilet, but in general, you need about 66 inches from the back wall to the wall opposite the toilet which is almost standard in a bathroom dictated by the width of a standard tub. A clear five foot turning radius should be observed for maximizing wheelchair operations. Grab bars are required in all ADA compliant bathrooms or toilet stalls. You should provide them behind the toilet and on the side walls and they should be 33 to 36 inches above the finished floor. The grab bar lengths should be twenty four to thirty six inches behind toilet and forty two to forty eight inches on the side wall with the bar located two feet from the front of the toilet. Folding grab bars can be used when the side wall isn't sufficient and they fold up for convenient out of the way storage.

Home Accessibility Help

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ADA Compliant Grab Bars

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Apr 24, 2019 @ 16:04 PM

     No matter how old you are you should periodically evaluate your residence to determine whether it suits you not just for the present but the future. Your home assessments will be rethought every time your living situation changes. Whether childproofing for a newborn, making a home more accessible following a sickness or unfortunate accident to someone in the family, or making a toilet area safer for an aging residing parent, there will be an immediate evolution to your primary domicile. These same life span design features are even more important if you believe you're past the age of wanting to move and are relishing the thought of aging in your own home, no matter what physical limitations you might later develop. Incorporating smart aging design concepts into a home will attract a larger group of buyers when you decide to finally sell your home.

ADA Compliant Bathroom In Austin

     When mobility becomes an issue for any homeowner, regardless of age, the question arises concerning physically moving to a different home with a bath that is more accessible or making the existing home modifications which will meet the need of the new life changes.Solving aging in place issues will soon become the number one challenge concerning the present obsolete housing inventory in our country. Our present day obsolete homes now inhabited by the baby boomer generation will slowly and increasingly raise their outdated and obsolete ugly heads and expose their true lack of kitchen or bathroom accessibility to those very people inhabiting them. The situation will only become ever more expanding in time. When these homes were previously purchased, they represented an absolute castle in the world of their owners in which to prepare for a day and they also acted as a retreat from life's tough interactions. They housed our families, our memories, and our stuff. They represented a place where we could be ourselves. Our homes have always been exempt from any and all of the accessibility regulations that have been put in place since 1968 when our Viet Nam veterans were returning home. The new evolving concept known as Universal Design and specialized handicap remodeling contractors for home remodeling is catching on nationwide and has been for several years as a sign of the times. Universal design techniques used in building makes a home more accessible to all regardless of their mobility or adaptive abilities.

     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 individual’s personal needs. Home modifications making homes wheelchair accessible can increase safety, accessibility, and independence for people who want to live independently.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

     Falls and slips are among the most common causes of injury to senior or elderly people and for those with a disability. Smooth surfaces in combination with wet areas make the bathroom one of the most dangerous areas within the home. It is of paramount importance that the bathroom be updated providing safety for any person with limited mobility or the elderly. Grab bar installation will greatly improve safety and usability of the bathroom.

     If the residence is fairly new and uses universal design techniques or the geographic area uses accessible housing standards, the walls in the tub area and the walls behind and next to the toilet should have extra blocking. Blocking is a structural reinforcement within a wall that allows a grab bar to be attached securely to withstand a 250 pound force. Studs can also be used but may not be located in the most desirable location for the length of the grab bar being used. The purpose of a grab bar is to help support a person, and the grab bar must be able to support a person's weight until help arrives or the person can right themselves. A grab bar is both pulled and pushed against.The standard size for a grab bar is 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter and should be 1-1/2 inches away from the wall. With some new construction, blocking is placed in the walls such that grab bars can be installed easily at a later date when needed. If there is no blocking in the walls, it can be added later but the wall must be open up to expose the studs. The recommended type is 3/4 inch plywood, 6 to 12 inches wide and nailed into the studs or a 2 by 6 or 8 inch block nailed into the studs. Today, grab bars come in many metal finishes and decorative shapes. Contrasting colors are easier to see in an emergency. Grab bars with a slight milled in texture are easier to grip. The blocking should be the full length of the tub and at both ends. This allows grab bars to be installed anywhere in the area or in more than one place. Never install grab bars on an angle where wet hands can slip. Grab bars should exist on all sides of the shower and tub walls. At the toilet, the blocked areas should be behind the toilet and on at least one side. If there is no wall next to the toilet, an L-shaped grab bar can be installed by attaching the front end to the floor and the back to the wall behind the toilet. All grab bars should be installed at the universal height of 34-36 inches above the finished floor. Folding grab bars can be used when adjacent walls don't exist in a 24" reach distance for a seated person.

Handicap Accessibility

     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. Universal Design is where we are headed out of necessity.

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Accessible Toilets

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Apr 24, 2019 @ 15:04 PM

     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 individual’s personal needs. Home modifications making homes wheelchair accessible can increase safety, accessibility, and independence for people who want to live independently.

Accessible toilet in Austin

     The toilet is a uniquely useful fixture in the bathroom for waste disposal.Toilets are typically chosen to match the rest of the plumbing fixtures within the room. These waste ridding devices have evolved very little over the years but require hand strength and agility to be operated correctly. They are not manufactured with accompanying handholds compounding to the difficulty of some users. The seat height of toilets is a critical consideration with respect to comfort and are now available in increased heights ranging from 18-19 inches in height eliminating the deep knee bend or back aches needed for seating. This is a wider accepted choice than the toilet heights we have grown accustomed to at 14-15”. Additionally raised or elevated seats can be installed if needed.  These will provide an additional five inches in height but the elevated seats will most assuredly cause problems if children are also using the facilities. However, lower seat heights are problematic and can also hinder the ease of transferring from a wheelchair and back again. Assisting electrical power toilet lifts with attached grab bars can help raise and lower the user if required. Grab bars should be installed on at least two sides of the toilet. All grab bars must be secured into either adequate wood blocking or existing wall studs so they can hold at least 250 pounds of downward force. Creating a toilet within an open area which is approachable from both sides and not in a closet is much more accessible. Accessible toilets should never be placed in small alcoves. The old idea of placing them within a private room works well for those with a full range of mobility.  They should have a minimum clear width of 60" optimally and sufficient space to accommodate a wheelchair to the sides of the toilet or in front for transferring to and from the toilet. Toilet seats are also available with a heat feature and some have the ability to self-close or have a night light. Wall mounted toilets offer more accessible areas underneath for cleaning versus floor mounted models but are more expensive and not a readily available. An add on bidet attachment installed on a regular toilet can be handy and help improve hygiene especially when a caretaker is involved.  This is a cheaper idea than a free standing bidet and also concerns precious space.

Home Accessibility Help

     Toilets need to have the flush handle located toward the middle of the room and be of the correct height for comfort. Proper clearance from any walls (18" from any side wall to the center of the toilet) must be observed and the clear 30 inch by 48 inch approach to the toilet must be maintained. Grab bars should be installed both on the rear and sidewall of the toilet at 34 inches above the floor. If no side wall is present within a reasonable reach distance from the toilet then you can opt for a folding model as in the above photo.  Any bathroom transformation needs to include universal design characteristics and be accessible to everyone in the home.

Handicap Home Modifications

     Designing task oriented bathroom fixtures without consideration for their use, placement, or how they make up the bathroom environment makes up the current way of thinking universally.  The tub/shower, sink, and toilet are used individually and designing for the greatest approach clearance within clear spaces.  Observing minimal distance to traverse for each fixture location should take president within any accessible design.  This individual design will provide the greatest use of each fixture for the bathroom layout.  Emphasis must be placed on fixture placement to accomplish certain tasks but grouping these tasks where possible can be beneficial to everyone. The greater the proximity of the fixtures, the more efficient and convenient the design.  The universal bathroom can be a more enabling environment focusing on an individual’s capabilities with regards to the individual’s surroundings.

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