Adaptable Housing Frequently Asked Questions

Saanich's Adaptable Housing is based on the principle of "visitability". 

This means that people's homes should be accessible to everyone, not just able-bodied people.  It eases problems associated with isolation, and allows people with physical limitations to visit friends and neighbours, and stay in communities where they have developed social ties.


  1. What is adaptable housing and why is it important?

    Adaptable Housing embraces the needs of our aging population. It makes it easier for people with physical limitations to live and visit.

    It is important because some forecast that in 30 years, those over 65 years of age will make up one-third of the population.

  2. Is adaptable housing institutional looking?

    No. Adaptable housing features are subtle, if not invisible. Adaptable housing can appeal to everyone, and make renting and selling easier.


    • Grab bars are not needed, but reinforced bathroom walls mean you can add them later when they are required.
    • Accessible light switches, electrical outlets and lever door handles can look good while being helpful.
  3. Most of us aren’t disabled. Why not just allocate a percentage of accessible units?

    There are a number of disadvantages to this approach.

    • Isolation — Separate facilities for people with disabilities can be isolating.
    • Clinical appearance — They are difficult to sell or rent.
    • Expensive — Renovations to remove accessible features cost a lot.

    Adaptable design is better.

    • You don’t notice adaptable design.
    • A user with mobility issues can visit or live in a suite more easily.
  4. How much does this cost?

    The mandatory Basic Adaptable Housing features typically cost less than $1,000 per dwelling unit.

    North Vancouver’s evaluation of their program showed no negative impact on pricing, selling or construction. Development and real estate industries now strongly support the program.

    Benefits of Adaptable Design

    • Increases a building’s value and functionality.
    • Broadens the client base for a development.
    • Provides a long term return on the investment.
    • Avoids costly renovations later. 

    Doing Nothing Costs Others

    Minor renovations and alterations to standard dwellings can cost thousands of dollars. These costs can be avoided, or greatly reduced, if basic adaptability features are incorporated at the design stage.

    In addition:

    • A lack of steering space often results in damage. This costs renters with walkers or wheelchairs who lose their damage deposits.
    • Relocation has a financial, social and emotional impact.