PROVIDING RESEARCH AND BEST PRACTICE RESOURCES
UNIVERSAL DESIGN FOR HOUSING
Applying Principles of Universal Design and to New Dwellings and Home Renovations
Universal design creates housing that can work for everyone. It makes housing accessible to those with disabilities. It also lets people stay in their homes as their circumstances change, without expensive renovations. And because a well-designed accessible unit doesn’t look different from a standard unit, it appeals to those who need special features — and to those who don’t. – CMHC
Practical tips to make each room accessible, reduce future costs and potentially increase resale value.
- Wide doors provide ease of movement for everyone
- Lever door handles can assist all types of people
- Floating vanities are wheelchair accessible and can be used by everyone.
Universal Design creates housing that can be used by everyone allowing all people to live in their homes longer.
Aging in Place
Accessibility for housing is not yet mandated in Canada however there are multiple resources to help creating barrier free homes. In development – Accessible Housing Standard B652. In the meantime, below are common accessibility features for aging in place:
Common Aging in Place Features:
- One no-step path to a no-step entry that can be at the front, side, rear, or through a garage (1/4–1/2 in. thresholds)
- No step access to patios, balconies, and terraces (1/4–1/2 in. thresholds)
- Doorways have at least a 34 in. wide clear opening with appropriate approach clearances
- Door handles are 34–38 inches from the floor
- Hallways and passageways are 42 in. clear minimum
- Access to at least one full bath on the main floor with reinforced walls at toilets and tubs for the future installation of grab bars
- Cabinetry in kitchen that allows a person to work in a seated position
- Light switches and electrical outlets 24–48 in. from finished floor
- Stairways have tread widths at least 11 in. deep and risers no greater than 7 in. high
- Good lighting throughout the house including task lighting in critical locations (e.g. under kitchen cabinets)
- Non-glare surfaces
- Contrasting colors to promote good perception of edges and boundaries
- Clear floor space of at least 30 x 48 in. in front of all appliances, fixtures, and cabinetry
- Front-loading laundry equipment
- Ample kitchen and closet storage or adjustable shelving within 28–48 in.
- Comfortable reach zones
(Steinfeld and White, 2010).
Based out of New Zealand, Lifemark Homes is a certification process to mark universally designed homes. Lifemark® rated homes are designed to be usable and safe for people of all ages and stages. Learn more about Lifemark certification standards below.
SAFERhome’s mission is to promote the adoption and use of housing standards and practices that are safe, healthy and sustainable for everyone in the community. To achieve its objective SAFERhome provides home planning assistance, home inspection and certification programs for the new home construction industry.
Home Modification Canada is an organization dedicated to helping Canadians find needed information about modifying their homes and connecting them with trusted industry professionals.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation website on Universal Design for new Housing Units is a great resource to get started on UD principles and applications for your home.