Smart, flexible design is the hallmark of every Home for Life™.  Spacious floor plans and built-in safety features mean that whether you live with someone who is three or eighty-three, your home will meet your needs. A Home for Life™ is also a warm and welcoming place for your family and friends to visit regardless their age or ability.

A Wise Investment

By 2020 nearly 15% of Albertans will be age 65 or older. The demand for homes that meet the needs of our aging population will soon exceed the supply. A Home for Life™ is designed for people of all ages and abilities. That translates into a bigger market for your home should you decide to sell. Choose to build a Home for Life™ and know that you are making a sound investment in the future for yourself and your loved ones.

Stress-Free Living

Most of us want to grow old at home. Sadly, few of us own homes that will allow us to do that. A Home for Life™ has built-in features that allow your home to be modified easily and economically so that people of all ages and abilities can live there independently. Moving is stressful and costly, so why not avoid the trouble by investing in a home that will meet your needs for a lifetime?

SINGLE-LEVEL OR MULTI-LEVEL, THE CHOICE IS YOURS

It is easiest to incorporate Home for Life™ features into a bungalow or two-story home. Whichever style suits your families needs you can feel free to build. Bi-level or split level homes are more difficult because of the number of stairways they contain and are not recommended floor plan styles for simple accommodation of a Home for Life™ design.

To begin building your Home for Life™ review the features described below. Building these features into the plans for your new home will help you avoid costly renovations down the road.

Ideally, all seven Home for Life™ Essentials will be included on the main floor, eliminating the need to climb stairs to reach a bedroom, bathroom, or laundry area. If this is not possible, then please see the note below regarding stairs.

1

HOME FOR LIFE ESSENTIALS - THE ENTRANCE

A zero-step entrance OR space for a ramp or vertical platform lift to be installed inside an attached garage are a necessity of a Home for Life™, ideally both options should be available to the homeowner, even if the ramp in the garage is not initially built-in to the home.

A zero-step entrance is one that has no steps and is connected to a parking area in the front or back of the home by a gradually sloping sidewalk. This is a feature that must be planned for in the initial building stage.

Space for a ramp or vertical platform lift to be installed inside an attached garage is an additional feature that should be considered. Access via the interior of the garage is often a preferred option for those who live in harsh weather climates. Preventing residents and visitors from having to navigate icy sidewalks and cold temperatures is ideal. A double-car garage is required to accommodate this.

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A zero-step entrance

2

HOME FOR LIFE ESSENTIALS - AN ACCESSIBLE KITCHEN

A kitchen with a 60” diameter turning circle in the work area is another necessary Home for Life™ feature. This turning circle in the work area should be in front of, or adjacent to, the sink, fridge, cooktop and oven allowing those with limited mobility to use the appliances safely and easily.

If the current kitchen does not have a viable turning circle building in a moveable or removable kitchen island will enable you to easily convert the kitchen when the extra space is needed in the future.

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60" turning circle

3

HOME FOR LIFE ESSENTIALS - AN ACCESSIBLE BATHROOM

At least one three-piece bathroom somewhere in the home that contains a 60” diameter turning circle by the toilet, a shower space with no threshold, and walls reinforced with plywood is the third of the three Home for Life™ necessities. If it is on the second floor of a two-story house, then there must be the option to make it accessible according to the details found below regarding steps and stairs.

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60” turning circle

4

Bedroom

Bathe, eat and sleep are the principal three functions of any home. Home for Life™ homes must include at least one bedroom that has a 60” diameter turning circle on one side of the bed that will enable someone with limited mobility to get in and out of bed safely and easily.

5

Laundry room

A laundry area with a 60” diameter turning circle on the main or upper floor OR an area that has been roughed in so that the laundry area can be moved if required is the final feature of a Home for Life™. Homeowners with limited mobility need more room to maneuver in the laundry area.

Consider using the extra space for shelving if it is not needed immediately. If you choose a basement laundry room, have the plumbing and electrical roughed in to the main or upper floor for future conversion.

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60" turning circle

6

Doors

Typical doorways are usually 30” or 32” wide.  The inclusion of 36” wide doors are more convenient for moving furniture and are essential for some people who have impaired mobility.

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36” wide doors

7

Hallways

The average hallway in a home is 34” wide. Designing a home with 42” wide hallways is essential for many people who use walkers, wheelchairs or scooters. Additionally, wider hallways allow for more space to move furniture through and provide a sense of grandeur for the home.

8

Steps & Stairs

Obviously a home with no steps or stairs is the best option since it requires no renovations to be accessible for all, but is difficult to find in newer homes.

40” wide straight-run stairs

If multiple levels are necessary 40” wide stairs which are run in a straight-line will provide the space necessary to install a chair lift should it be needed in the future. “Straight run” stairs have no turns or landings. More turns  equals more complicated and expensive chair lift installations.  Only a straight-run set of stairs will allow for the installation of a mechanical lift designed to carry a wheelchair from one floor to another as well.

5’ x 5’stacking closets that can be converted to an elevator shaft

Properly preparing a roughed in elevator shaft requires careful design, but essentially, a 5’ x 5’ stacked space is required.  This option is becoming more popular in homes where space is at a premium.

A Note About Stairs

If you cannot include the accessible three piece bathroom, bedroom, or laundry area on the  main floor, you can locate them on another floor, provided you follow these guidelines for stairs. To simplify the process for installing a future chair-lift:

  • Stairs should be 40 inches wide and straight-run (no turns or landings).
  • A five-foot by five-foot "landing space" at the top and bottom of the stairs is preferable so that the user can transfer into and out of the chair safely.
  • Electrical outlets at the top and bottom of the stairs may be required.
  • Reinforce the walls with plywood along the full length of the stairs.
  • There should be plenty of lighting at the top and bottom of the stairs. 

An alternative to these modifications is to construct 5-foot by 5-foot stacking closets that can be converted to an elevator shaft if required.

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40” wide stairs will provide the space necessary for installing a chair lift

It is easiest to incorporate Home for Life™ features into a bungalow or two-story home. Bi-level or split level homes are more difficult because of the number of stairways they contain. Keep in mind the Home for Life™ Builder’s Rule: 0 – 36 – 42 – 60 - 0 steps and thresholds (including in the shower) - 36-inch wide doorways - 42-inch wide hallways - 60-inch diameter turning circles in the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and laundry area

Optional Features

Incorporating some or all of the following optional features into your Home for Life™ will further increase your comfort and are cheaper to install when a home is first being built.

Upper kitchen cabinets installed a maximum of 16” above the counter

A side-opening wall-mounted oven installed at counter height

Crank operated windows mounted a maximum of 30” from the finished floor

A minimum 10’ x 10’ flex room on the main floor

Wiring in place in all rooms to allow for the future installation of visual smoke alarms

Electrical outlets located at the top and bottom of stairs

Lowered light switches, thermostat and breaker panel

Raised electrical outlets

Accessible main-floor powder room

The “as built” drawings, which you can request from your builder, will show whether or not hidden features such as plywood backing and special wiring have been incorporated into your home.