Accessible Housing in Metro Vancouver
Accessible housing is a type of construction design that allows independence for people who are living with a disability. Those who were born with physical limitations have lived their entire lives adapting to their environment. They know what to look for when moving into a new house. They know what living arrangements work for their specific condition and abilities, and which ones do not. However, if mobility limitations are developed either from an accident or over a period of time (such as from aging), many are at a loss when it comes to finding accessible housing.
Aging increases the risk of disability, dependence, and the need for help. As the baby-boomers age, there is a higher demand for accessible housing in Canada. How does accessible housing work in Metro Vancouver?
Because the term “accessibility” is a broad one, and building codes are constantly changing, it is difficult to determine which houses have the most up-to-date accessible features without thorough investigation. The good news, however, is that you only need a house with a design that works for you.
Building codes related to accessibility are updated from time to time. When they are updated, any new buildings built will have to be made according to the new codes. So as a general rule of thumb, the newer the building, the more accessibility codes it is currently meeting. There are online housing listings that are specifically based on accessibility requirements. However, as with many housing listings, they can be limited in what they can describe on their postings, and sometimes may not have all the pertinent information you need. It may be easiest and best to contact BC Housing directly.
FlexHousing homes in Metro Vancouver
If you are young and able, it might be difficult for you to imagine what life can be like if you are limited by mobility. Moving into a new house in Vancouver with accessible designs may not be your priority at present. However, you may still want to think ahead to your older years, and consider FlexHousing. FlexHousing is a Canadian housing design concept. In designing these types of houses, a lot of planning and details are put in place for future adaptations to the house. On the outset, Flexhousing designs looks like any other house. Many structural details are either already in place from the beginning, or roughed in to be finished later as the needs of the residents change.
Accessible design modifications in the existing homes of Metro Vancouver
If you are moving into an existing Vancouver home without a FlexHousing design concept, you can still be wise in checking for its structural design. Some features may be adaptable for accessibility modifications. For example, instead of doorknobs, you could implement lever handles to allow easier access to rooms. Another example would be to implement appliances such as ovens and refrigerators that do not require a lot of force to open. Low countertops should be designed with a large clearing underneath for wheelchairs to be able to fit. Room for a kitchen island, for example, could be something you’d want to consider having space for when retrofitting the house. There are specific designs catering to accessibility that will allow you to be safer, feel more in control, and more independent if you do have a disability.
Adapting existing entryways that make wheelchairs and walkers easily accessible to Vancouver homes
No-step entry ways are most ideal and most functional when living with a disability. Even just climbing a few steps into a house can be troublesome. If the house has a one or two step entryway, you are a most likely able to adapt its design rather easily. Look for entry ways with space to place a ramp. Remember that the grade of the ramp needs to be low so that it is safe enough for wheelchairs, scooters, and walkers. Also, ensure there is wider door access, not only for the entrance, but through the house.
Future adaptations as you age into your golden years in Vancouver
You may also want to check for other design characteristics of a house that may be adaptable for future needs. Moving into a multistory building may not sound like a good idea when you are limited in mobility. With many houses, retrofitting stair lifts is usually a way to adapt the house for wheelchair or walker use. Sometimes, a residential elevator can be put in place as well.
However, it is rather expensive to modify your existing home. BC Housing is a great resource to look to if you are someone living with a disability. If you are a low-income senior or someone living with disability, you may be eligible to apply for the Home Adaptations for Independence program. If you qualify and meet all the requirements, you may be able to receive financial assistance for home modifications to improve accessibility based on your physical needs.
Getting Help Moving in Vancouver
We hope this article provided some ideas on what to look for when moving into an accessible house. If you need help moving your things anywhere in the Greater Vancouver Area, contact Ferguson Moving & Storage online or call us at 604-922-2212 today!