housing That Works for Everyone

“There is no reason why every developer couldn’t do it,” says developer Mark Rollins. “It’s not a financial thing. It’s thinking ahead, planning your design. I see it as a feature that makes perfect sense.”

While great strides have been made in creating accessible public spaces, there is a shortage of even minimally accessible private housing in Canada for people who want to “age in place” or who have reduced mobility.

Newly constructed homes often contain the same major barriers as older, existing homes: steps at every entrance, narrow interior doors – with the bathroom door usually the narrowest door in the house!

The words “accessibility” and “visitability” have a lot in common.

While The National Building Code of Canada is concerned mainly with commercial properties and multi-family dwellings, many of its requirements are becoming more and more popular for single family residences, especially as the population ages.

The visitability movement offers three key features to ensure that everyone, regardless of mobility, will be able to at least visit, use the washroom and exit the home: a zero step entrance at the front, back or side entrance; wider doorways on all main floors; and a half or full bath on the main floor.

Other opportunities exist to enhance the visitability of a new residence. These include locating the bedroom(s) on the main level of a multi-level structure; locating the laundry on the main level; access to and ample space within the kitchen; and customizable designs to allow buyers the flexibility to alter homes for their best use.

Ryerson Commons, located in picturesque Cobourg, Ontario offers home designs and customization choices which embrace each of the seven points above to enhance visitability for residents and visitors alike.

Visitability can be integrated into the home at design phase of a new home to increase your options as your family’s needs change over time. Seniors want to remain living independently in their own homes but renovating at the time of a mobility change can be very costly. Visitability is a promising approach to creating the more accessible homes that have been embraced at Ryerson Commons.

“The interesting thing about ‘visitability”, says Rollins, “is that it’s not really visible. “Therefore, photographs would look no different than looking at a similar home without this feature.”