Flexible Canadian Homes for Your Evolving Needs

This April, couple Ian and Wendy Jackson, both 62 moved into their new “future-perfect” adult-lifestyle bungalow. They both are healthy and working at present, but understand that life might not look that way in 10 or 15 years. Staying in their huge single home is definitely not an appealing idea as they age.

For this reason, they chose a new home, an open-concept bungalow at Larco Homes, close to Hunt Club and Albion roads. Extra wide doorways would allow a power wheelchair to pass through, while also including mobility and wheelchair accessories elsewhere in the home, like accessible cup holders in kitchen areas.

Statistics Canada published a study in 2006 wherein it was recorded that the proportion of seniors would increase from the current 13.2 percent to 24.5 percent by 2036. Also, the number of seniors over the age of 65 will double by that time. Another study by the Gerontology association of Canada states that older Canadians prefer to dwell in their own homes instead of enrolling in care facilities like retirement homes.

Unfortunately, most of the homes built today are designed for the youth who can tolerate stairs, thins halls or high cabinets in kitchen. Today, demographics are evolving at a fast pace and there is a demand for a broader design, but builders are extremely slow in moving along with the changing demographics. Few builders do build adult-lifestyle bungalows, but the actual changes are only wide passages and an open floor plan.

Instead of purchasing a new home, there is another alternative and that is to go in for a custom-build model. This concept along with its features became well known in the 90s. In Canada, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) provides such an alternative named FlexHousing.

FlexHousing allows homeowners to make renovations to their existing home without pinching their pockets. In the design and construction time only, provision is given keeping in mind the changing needs of the home owners.

The aim of FlexHousing is to allow home owners to reside in their residence throughout their lifetime by satisfying all their varying levels of needs and as those needs change.

As the conditions vary, instead of switching homes, one can adjust their existing home. For example, a big bedroom can be transformed into two small rooms, a standing bedroom can be transformed into a home office, the basement can be changed to become a rental suite, an attic can be converted to a huge family room or master bedroom, the options are endless.

In the US, a parallel concept is called Universal Housing and in the UK, it is Lifetime Homes.

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