Tag Archives: accessibility


The visitable home, make your home accessible and inviting for the holiday season

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The visitable home, make your home accessible and inviting for the holiday season

Simple steps to make your home accessible and inviting for the holiday season

The holidays are a time that all generations gather together to celebrate the season. However, every home presents its challenges in ensuring that everyone who comes through the door is welcome for the holidays. The concept of visitable housing is an approach to home design that encourages adding a basic level of accessibility and safety for everyone who dwells or visits the home; think babies and young children, elders and the aging, or guests of any age who have mobility challenges.

According to Visitable Housing Canada, many universal design features can be incorporated into most homes at a reasonable cost. With the holiday season in mind, there are some easy solutions to make family and guests feel comfortable when visiting or staying in your home. Some of these changes are temporary, but none will deter from your home’s beauty.

Outdoors & entry

The great outdoors, especially in Ontario, can be one of the most challenging areas of your home to navigate for any guest. There are three basic things you can do or add to your home that will make a big difference.

  1. Firstly, keep sidewalks, pathways and porches clear of ice with calcium. It works just like salt, but will not damage the surface, and calcium chloride melts ice faster than other de-icers.
  2. Ensure pathways and entrances are devoid of any clutter or obstacles. For example, move larger planters or decor items clear of doorways.
  3. Third and most importantly, providing zero-clearance entry to your home will go a long way to allow ease of entry to all and to help avoid any accidents. Temporary ramps are available in all heights and colours to easily make your entryway accessible with little effort.


Your bathrooms are the most utilized room for all your guests, and as discussed in my debut article in the bathroom issue of RENO & DECOR, the majority of household accidents also occur there. Safety though can also be stylish, especially with the products available in the market today. Here are some excellent and easy solutions to consider.

  1. . Replace towel bars with easy-to-install and trendy grab bars. These now come in many finishes to match your existing plumbing, as well as providing the right support and peace of mind for all. Install grab bars in both the tub or shower for extra support when entering and exiting the area. Don’t forget the toilet paper holder, there is even a great solution for you here. Professional installation is recommended for each.
  2. Consider moving to a touchless faucet to make everyone’s life easier. As a bonus, it helps keep your faucet hardware looking clean throughout your guest’s stay, as well as ensuring that faucets won’t inadvertently be left on. Similarly, touchless faucets are a nice addition to your kitchen as well.
  3. For overnight guests, there are additional options for your shower stall or bathtub. You can consider placing a non-slip surface chair in the stall or tub, as well as installing a hand-held faucet to your existing showerhead. Both items help provide a comfortable and safe experience for anyone needing extra security while bathing or if bathing small children.


Stair rails & handrails

Interior or exterior railings are a safety necessity for all guests. Everyone relies on these railings to help them descend and ascend stairs and they also prevent any falling accidents. Make sure that all railings are secure and installed properly by professionals. This will ensure the safety of the people you love every day of the year.

Should you wish to consider updates, or to assist with any changes in the visitability of your home, ensure your design consultant or contractor are designated as Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists (CAPS) as they have the tools, knowledge, and expertise to design living spaces that allow for the safety and security in your home. We don’t have to sacrifice good design and your personal esthetic in order to make a home safe and accessible. By making a few small adjustments, you can make sure that your home is open to all of your visitors over the holidays.

Over the course of Yasmine’s 15-year career, she has developed, My Design Studio, the top independent decor centre servicing the residential construction industry in Southern Ontario. As a CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialist) designer, Yasmine comes full circle on her passion for beautiful and sustainable design, by also adding design for living in place. my-designstudio.com


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Accessibility for today and tomorrow

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Accessibility for today and tomorrow

Choosing features that will make your new home livable for the long term

New home buyers come in all shapes, sizes and stages of life. Older people looking to downsize are one of the key demographics for condominiums. These empty-nesters are often in the market for a smaller, more maintenance-free home that is close to transit, entertainment and shopping.

But before making a purchase, individuals or couples who plan to live in their condo into retirement and beyond need to think about future needs. For example, physical limitations that may come as a natural part of aging. By anticipating the physical changes most of us experience later in life, they can look forward to years of comfortable, accessible living in the home of their (new) dreams.

If you, a parent or a grandparent are looking for a condo for retirement living, I can offer a few tips.

Condominiums are mostly stair-free by design but choosing a development that has wider hallways and doorways and a more open floor plan will make it easier to accommodate assistive devices (if needed) like wheelchairs or walkers.

There are also a number of relatively minor but extremely useful modifications that will make your home more livable in the long term.

Opt for door levers over doorknobs. They tend to be much easier to grasp and open.

Altree Developments

Make sure your light switches are the newer rocker panel design. The old toggle switches can be very hard to manage. Even better, if your hands are full you can just use an elbow to flip on the light!

Two-way switches are also a great addition so you can turn on the lights as you enter a room and turn them off again once you’re in bed or at the other end of the room. It’s also important to have light switches at both the top and bottom of a staircase so you’re not tempted to negotiate a set of stairs in the dark.

Make sure there’s enough lighting in bathrooms, stairways, kitchens and outdoor areas.

When it comes to choosing flooring, steer clear of high-gloss, slippery materials such as marble which may come with a higher risk of slipping. Finally, when it comes to bathroom design, consider opting for a walkin shower with an adjustable-height showerhead and handheld unit to give you more bathing flexibility as you become less flexible.

If a builder is installing accessibility features for you, there’s good news: those features are likely to be covered under your one-year warranty for defects in workmanship and materials and unauthorized substitutions. If you have any doubts that something may be covered, or for how long, your builder representative – or Tarion’s customer service department – will be happy to help you find out.

And if you’re worried about coverage for the accessibility features you may need to rely on outside of your front door – in the shared common element areas of your community – there’s good news there too. Since 2015, the Ontario Building Code has required all new multi-unit residential buildings to include accessible and barrier-free features in many of these areas. If an issue does arise with one of your common elements’ accessibility features, it’s likely protected by the new home warranty on common elements, which is backstopped by Tarion. The problem may be warranted for up to one year (if it is related to work and materials or substitutions), or up to two years (if it’s a violation of the Ontario Building Code that affects health and safety). Keep in mind that the warranty covering common elements is separate from the one covering your own unit.

While contemplating your future limitations isn’t as fun as deciding on the colour of your kitchen cupboards, it can help to ensure the long-term enjoyment of your new home.

Howard Bogach is president and CEO of the Tarion Warranty Corp.




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Body & Soul: Live with Ease - Home adjustments for barrier-free living

Body & Soul: Live with Ease

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Body & Soul: Live with Ease

by Jayne Hobbs

Photography, bigstock.com

Home adjustments for barrier-free living

In a definition from Medical-Dictionary. TheFreeDictionary.com – barrier-free refers to structural or architectural design that does not impede use by individuals with special needs. Currently, there are more than four million Canadians living with disabilities. Aging is one of the biggest contributors – and as the boomer generation ages, this figure is expected to snowball.

It’s increasingly important to adapt our living space in a barrier-free manner. An annual physical will keep us in tune to our body’s requirements – both physically and mentally. Being aware of changing needs will help us to stay safe, and reduce the risk of falls. Often the self-imposed barriers that we put on ourselves can be can be improved. With adaptations to our homes, we can enjoy our retirement in an environment that’s conducive to our changing needs.


Each of us has unique needs as it relates to barrier-free living. Accessibility and safety are the main concerns as we age. Our mobility is often affected, making us more prone to falling.

As we enter our elder chapter of life, its often difficult to speculate future needs. If renovating and redesigning your existing home, or purchasing a new home for your retirement, factor in these safety tips.

  • DECLUTTER: Remove items that may cause falls, such as scatter rugs, electric cords, bedspreads that may drag on the floor (many falls occur by tripping on bedding in the middle of the night), as well as items on the stairs, stacks of paper and anything that impedes you from moving around safely.
  • LIGHTING: Luminous lighting should be placed evenly throughout the house. Include night lights or motion detector lighting in halls, stairways, bathrooms and poorly lit areas.
  • FLOORS: Use only slip-resistant throw rugs and bathmats, and avoid high-shine, slippery flooring.

  • STAIRS: Consider placing a hand rail on both sides of the stairs, as well as a secure runner if the stairs are slippery. Again, remove any clutter, and when necessary, install an electric lift.

  • DOORS: Change doorknobs to lever handles, and use pull-outs on cabinets for easier access.

  • GRAB BARS: These are one of the most useful, and safety conscious, items that you can install. Ideal for bathtubs, showers and beside the toilet, they can also be installed anywhere in the house where extra support is needed.
  • COUNTERTOPS AND CABINETS: In both the kitchen and bathroom, keep them tidy and only have necessary items within reach. Consider pull-out shelving and adjustable countertops.
  • FAUCETS: Touch faucets are fairly new on the market, and are definitely worth investing in.
  • BATHROOMS: Walk-in tubs and showers that include seating are highly recommended. Other considerations include, higher toilets or raised safety seats that help with aging knees, as well as slip-resistant flooring, and re-setting the water to a lower temperature in order to prevent scalding.
  • ACCESSIBILITY: Transitions from one flooring surface to another should be level, as well as all walkways for easy access. It might be necessary to install a ramp or railings where you enter your home. Likewise, widening door openings may be a future requirement.

Inside your home, everything you need on a regular basis should be easily accessible. Use a mobile phone, and ensure that all important numbers have been programmed in.

These helpful suggestions can be adapted to your existing home environment to help prevent accidents – making aging-in-place a realistic reality.


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