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City passes first adaptable housing bylaw for new housing

28th November 2013

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

Vancouver has passed a new bylaw that aims to ensure new housing is prepared to meet the needs of all citizens, and particularly those who have mobility difficulties.

As of early 2014, all new houses in Vancouver will be required to have wider stairways, higher electricity outlets and a main-floor bathroom by law. This housing would be suitable for all, whether or not they have mobility difficulties, but those who do have such difficulties will find that these new properties already have a number of features that are designed for their needs and are a great base for adding bigger independent-living aids, such as affordable stair lifts.

Vancouver City Council has ordered that newly-built houses must comply with a number of points. These include having lever handles instead of doorknobs, light switches at a lower height, lower wastepipes under sinks, higher electrical outlets, reinforcements to bathroom walls, wider doorways and hallways that would be suitable for a wheelchair and wider stairways that could comfortably accommodate a stairlift.

Whilst some may find the bylaw inconvenient when it comes to personalising their home in the exact way they may wish to, the law helps to make sure that new housing is suitable for everyone who will live there now and in the future, ensuring that these houses can be both a comfortable and practical home.

As a model for creating housing that is easier to adapt for those who may need stairlifts and adapted walk in baths installed, these plans could inspire construction companies in the UK, as well as local councils. Many houses in the UK are difficult to adapt with large independent-living aids, so new-builds that are designed with the potential for this in mind could offer a workable solution to the problem of a lack of suitable housing for older people and those with mobility difficulties.

Image Credit: Ben Sutherland (flickr.com)