We have been making good progress on your latest coach house. We will be finalising our skilled trades by the end of this week, and we are getting ready to complete all of the site work so we won’t have to deal with the frost in a few months.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit the launch of a new accessible suite company that was creating accessible garden suites and converting bungalows into two accessible units. I thought this was a neat opportunity and definitely something worth talking about!
Why is it important?
As most of you are aware, the population demographics are changing. People are on average living longer, and we are now coming into an age where the population demographics no longer look like a pyramid with many young people on the bottom and a few older people on the top. We are seeing now the population demographics taking more the shape of a column with fairly even distributions of all age groups.
These changes are expected to become the new norm, with birth rates lowering to roughly replacement and infant mortality being fairly low. We are also continuing to see advances to medicine and our understanding of how the body works, allowing it to become easier to extend our average life expectancy.
With the cohort of elderly people and those with disabilities increasing, more housing will have to be created in order to fit their needs. With units created specifically for them, they can be comfortable in their environment and keep their independence for longer.
Creating accessible units within a typical residential setting can allow people to age within the neighbourhoods they have always lived in. Staying in place can increase their level of comfort and independence while they age. Creating accessible units allows family members to take care people that need assistance more easily by having them closer to home. Close proximity can potentially reducing long term care costs on families. We recently moved my grandfather into a nursing home, and the monthly payment for the residence is 5,000 a month! Now that includes on site care however, at such high prices, you start to wonder if investing in an accessible garden suite would be a better option. In this scenario you will have been paying into your asset instead of someone else’s. On top of this, you would be able to spend significantly more time with your loved one due to proximity.
What do accessible units look like?
The differences between accessible units and your typical unit are numerous, nearly every aspect of the home has to be redesigned in order for it to be considered accessible. For anyone interested in reading the accessibility criteria that must be met, I will link CSA B51-18 here.
Grab bars around the toilet and hot and cold water lines by the toilet for a potential bidet.
Pull down closet bars so kids and people in wheel chairs can access their clothes.
Lower window sills so kids and people in wheel chairs can see outside easier. Wider doors to make entry and exit easier.
Showers with no transitions so it is possible to wheel in and out, or also possible to access without having to step up and in to a bath.
Are They Financially Feasible?
The Coach house we saw was roughly 600 square feet, and the company currently has several of these units for rent starting from 2350 per month. If they are able to achieve these rents accessible coach houses would be a financially viable model. They also had a two bed two bath accessible upper as well, which I would suspect would make financial sense. Creating an accessible basement required the installation of an elevator, which would be a significant expense. This would make it much harder for the lower unit to make financial sense.
Overall, I found this to be another exciting opportunity that is coming available in the small development space. The basement apartment may not be as viable as it used to be, however there is still lots of opportunity out there in the market!