Adaptable Design

Adaptable Design creates liveable residences for a wider range of persons than current housing design permits. Through consideration of how adaptations could be easily and inexpensively incorporated at a future time, Adaptable Design allows for changes which are required by residents with varying or changing needs, thereby supporting independent living and aging in place.

The initial Adaptable Design policy was adopted in February 1999. The three levels of the Adaptable Design Guidelines are in addition to the accessibility requirements in the BC Building Code. Level One consists of basic design and features, and is required in all multiple unit buildings with common corridors (MUB). Level Two and Level Three elements provide for a greater range of adaptability. Level Two adaptable design is intended to provide persons who require a mobility aid with the means to move easily in and out of the building, common areas and the adaptable design unit, as well as facilitate use of their bathroom. The degree of adaptability increases in Level Three Units, providing full access in all unit spaces.

The Adaptable Design Policy (1998) was updated in January 2013 to include:

  • 25% of units must meet Level Two of the Adaptable Design Guidelines 
  • for each Level Two unit, 1.86 m2 will be excluded from floor area calculations
  • for each Level Three unit, 4.19 m2 will be excluded from floor area calculations

In applying the Guidelines, staff will recognize that new developments and technology may result in equivalents that meet the intent of a specific requirement.

The Adaptable Design Guidelines are presented in two charts. The Design Elements Checklist contains items related to initial design and construction phases. The Fixtures & Finishes Checklist consists of items which are added during the finishing of a residential building or dwelling unit. Drawings are available which illustrate the priority features of Adaptable Design to guide the design process.

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