Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

May 22, 2014 11:22 ET

Accessible Housing by Design: Home Designs and Floor Plans

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 22, 2014) - Accessible housing design is an approach to planning, building or renovating a house so that everyone who lives in or visits the home feels safe, welcome and comfortable, including seniors and people with disabilities.

There are many different types of accessible homes, each with their own unique features, floor plans and design elements. To help you decide which option is right for you, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) offers the following tips on some of the most popular accessible housing designs available on the market today:

  • Visitable Home - a house that includes a number of basic accessibility features, allowing most people with impaired mobility to visit. This can range from installing an accessible washroom on the main floor of the home, to building wider doorways and a level entry so someone using a wheelchair can more easily come inside.
  • Adaptable House - a home that may not be fully accessible now, but which can be easily and cost-effectively adapted to meet potential changes as your family's needs evolve. Features of an adaptable house might include having removable cupboards in the kitchen and bathroom to create knee space for a wheelchair, or installing a special floor panel in a closet that could be knocked out to install an elevator at a later date. Adaptable homes also often incorporate CMHC's FlexHousing™ guidelines, which allow homeowners to reconfigure their homes economically as their needs or requirements change.
  • Accessible House - a house that fully meets the needs of someone who has a disability. Most accessible homes feature modifications like wider doors and hallways, wheel-in shower stalls, kitchen work surfaces that are built with enough knee space to accommodate someone using a wheelchair and open turning spaces within rooms. You should also consider how easily someone with mobility issues could leave quickly in the event of an emergency.
  • Universal House - a house that has been designed for people with different abilities, keeping in mind that abilities change over time. For example, a home with a universal design would likely include fully-accessible kitchens, bathrooms and living areas, enhanced lighting to make it easier for someone with vision loss to see, doors with lever handles that everyone can use, stairways with easy-to-grasp handrails, easy-to-operate windows and window coverings, and easy-to-use appliances.

For more information

For a free copy of the "About Your House" fact sheet Accessible Housing by Design: House Designs and Floor Plans or for information on any of the other guides, fact sheets and check lists in CMHC's Accessible Housing by Design series, visit our website at or call CMHC at 1-800-668-2642. For over 65 years, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has been Canada's national housing agency, and a source of objective, reliable housing information.

For story ideas or to access CMHC information, contact CMHC Media Relations - National Office at: (613) 748-2799 or by e-mail:

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