Public Review - Adaptable Housing Standards
The purpose of the public review is to
receive feedback from the general public, local
governments, and the design and building community on
proposed adaptable housing standards. The proposed
adaptable housing standards were developed in response
to local government interest in incorporating adaptable
features during building design and construction.
The proposed adaptable housing standards will apply to
single-storey suites in new residential, multi-unit
from the review will be analyzed and considered in
finalizing the standards. Once the standards are
finalized, local governments across B.C. will have the
option to adopt the model adaptable housing standards
through bylaw. Establishing model standards will
provide consistent application of adaptable housing
standards across B.C.
The proposed standards are available
online for feedback until September 22, 2008.
is Adaptable Housing?
of the Proposed Standards
of Adaptable Housing Standards
Were the Adaptable Housing Standards Developed?
Do We Need Adaptable Housing Standards?
Adaptable Housing Standards
to Comment on Proposed Standards
What is Adaptable Housing?
For the purposes of this review, the term ‘adaptable
housing’ includes accessibility and design and
construction features that can be modified at minimal
cost to suit the changing needs of people over time,
therefore reducing the need for major renovations at a
later time. Adaptable housing includes:
- basic accessibility features such as corridors,
doorways, bathrooms and kitchens that facilitate
access for people with mobility limitations
- design and construction features to support
future installation of grab bars in the bathroom
- purpose-built features that are incorporated
during initial construction, such as accessible
positioning of electrical outlets and switches, and
design of door and faucet handles.
Scope of the Proposed Adaptable Housing Standards
The proposed adaptable housing standards will apply
to single-storey suites in new residential, multi-unit
buildings. This building type already requires a degree
of accessibility under the B.C. Building Code. The
proposed standards include additional accessibility
requirements that will apply to the individual units as
well as building entrances, corridors, and common areas.
The Province sought to balance accessibility and
industry needs in developing the scope of the proposed
standards. Single-storey suites in multi-unit buildings
represent a starting point for requiring adaptable
housing design features in residential units.
The adaptable housing standards for residential,
multi-unit buildings will apply only in regions where
local governments choose to adopt the standards through
Benefits of Adaptable Housing Standards
Adaptable housing benefits everyone, including
seniors and people who have temporary or permanent
mobility limitations. Step-free main entrances, wider
doorways, an accessible washroom, and power switches and
outlets at accessible heights all contribute to making
homes more comfortable for everyone, including residents
and visitors with mobility limitations.
Adaptable housing uses design features that can
easily be modified at minimal cost to suit the changing
needs of people over time, giving people the opportunity
to remain in their homes and live more independently
should they experience temporary or permanent mobility
Adaptable housing is a cost effective approach to
facilitating independent living. The added initial
construction costs are minimal compared to the costs of
adding accessibility features after construction. Canada
Mortgage and Housing Corporation estimates the cost of
installing reinforcements to allow for future
installation of bathroom grab bars ranges from $50 to
$90 during initial construction, compared to over $500
to reinforce the wall in an existing bathroom. Some
features, such as the placement of outlets and switches,
and design of door handles and faucets, carry little or
no additional cost if incorporated during construction.
Other accessibility features, such as doorway and
hallway widths, can be prohibitively expensive to
introduce into an existing building. Internationally,
the costs of building to adaptable housing standards
vary between 0.5% to 3.0% of total construction costs.
How Were the Adaptable Housing Standards
The Province established an Adaptable Housing Working
Group to develop specific recommendations on how the
Province could accommodate local government interest in
adaptable housing standards. Working group members
included representatives from provincial and local
governments, the building industry, health care support,
and seniors groups.
The Adaptable Housing Working Group reviewed
adaptable housing standards developed by North Vancouver
and the District of Saanich, as well as similar
standards developed by the SAFER Home, Lifetime Homes,
Concrete Change, and the Canada Mortgage and Housing
Corporation. The working group also reviewed B.C.
Building Code accessibility standards for public and
institutional buildings and looked at similar
developments in other countries such as the United
Kingdom and the United States.
Why Do We Need Adaptable Housing Standards?
Adaptable housing is a cost-effective approach that
gives everyone, including seniors and people with
temporary or permanent mobility limitations, the
opportunity to live more independently. Adaptable
housing benefits everyone. For example:
- Ramped or step-free main entrances make it
easier for families with young children in
- Wider doorways make it easier to move furniture
and other objects around the home.
- Power outlets at accessible heights of 450 mm
are easier to reach for everyone.
Adaptable housing also carries broader societal
benefits by saving on institutionalized care costs, and
by making homes more accessible for visitors with
Local governments have expressed interest in
including adaptable housing design features in their
communities. Creating model standards that local
governments have the option to adopt through bylaw will
give local governments flexibility to make the best
housing choices for their communities. The Province is
committed to developing model standards to provide
consistency in application of adaptable housing across
Proposed Adaptable Housing Standards
Adaptable Housing Standards have been drafted for the
• Building Access
• Suite Doors and Doorways
Switches, and Other Environmental Controls
Patios and Balconies (*Future Work)
*Future Work Some work has been done on adaptable
housing standards for patios and balconies, but more
input and analysis is needed before standards can be
proposed for this area. Some preliminary standards for
patios and balconies are included for public review and
discussion, but it is anticipated that provisions for
patios and balconies will not be included in the final
standards. Any comments on the draft standards for
patios and balconies will be considered in future work
on adaptable housing standards.
How to Comment on the Proposed Standards
Review the proposed Adaptable
Housing Standards and use the Feedback
Form for your comments. Click on the Feedback Form
’Submit’ button to ensure we receive your input.
Please submit your comments to the Building and
Safety Policy Branch by:
Monday, September 22,