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With seniors being over 16% of the population and continuing to increase, many Canadians are finding themselves in the middle stages of life, with children at home and parents who also need some level of care.

Whether you have a loved one who is a senior or you are a senior, you may be thinking about doing some home renovations for accessibility. 

Types Of Home Renovations For Accessibility 

Whether you’ve decided to take your parents in or move in with them, you’ll need to renovate the house in order to accommodate everyone. So what are your building options?

Accessory Apartment or In-law Suite

A completely separate unit attached to the original family home can provide privacy and autonomy for your family and for your parents, especially if they are still independent and care for themselves. Also called garden suites or secondary suites, these units have partial or full kitchens, full bathrooms, a bedroom, and living space. Thinking proactively, you may want to consider building all on one level.

Home Renovations For Accessibility 

If they require more care or less space, or you cannot afford to add on, you may be able to get away with renovating to make room for them. Maybe you only need to change the layout, combine rooms or make modifications that help with accessibility. Consider future health and mobility issues. Your parents might be walking now, but a walker or wheelchair, in the future, might require wider doors and hallways, as well as lower cupboards. Grab bars, railings, and specialty bathtubs and accessories are also options to think about.

Things You Should Consider Before Renovating Your Home For Accessibility

Here are a few things to consider before renovating your home for accessibility. 

Are You Meeting Regulations? 

Get the proper permits because the fines can be substantial, and the liability can be devastating if anything goes wrong. Consult with your local building department for full requirements around fire separation, sound transmission classifications and septic systems (for rural properties).

Ask Your Parents Opinion

Unless you are highly skilled, hire a designer or an architect as well as a contractor. Involve your parents in the process by allowing them to contribute to the design process and work on the project, if possible.

Have A Budget

Your budget is going to be extremely important. You don’t want to overextend yourself and you don’t want to be stuck with an unfinished renovation. Be as accurate as possible in estimates. 

Any builder will tell you there are going to be unexpected costs. If you tack on an extra 10% to your initial cost calculation, you can avoid being sidelined by unanticipated expenses. Consider the following costs:

  • Initial building plans and updated drawings
  • Permit application fees
  • Possible zoning changes
  • Contractor and labour fees
  • Building materials and supplies
  • Days off work to meet with contractors or work on the project
  • Financing and lawyer fees for funding the renovation

Benefits Of Home Renovations For Accessibility 

  • Upgrades can increase the value of your property – Certain renovations can increase the value of your home.  
  • Shared Accommodation = Reduced spending. Your parents may be able to save money on rent or mortgage payments. They may also contribute to your mortgage payments, shared utility costs, and grocery bills. Win-win for everyone.
  • Can Provide Care Easily – Unfortunately, aging can often mean more medical appointments, surgeries, mobility or vision issues, and increased personal care needs. Having your parent in your home can give both of you peace of mind because you can be present in case of injury or illness and help with care and doctor visits conveniently.
Alpine Credits

How To Finance Home Renovations For Accessibility

You don’t need a lot of money sitting in your bank account to pay for home renovations. Instead, you can finance this big cost. Here are a couple of financial products available to help cover the cost of expensive renovations:

Home Equity Line Of Credit (HELOC) 

If you’re a homeowner, you can use a HELOC to gain access to a large sum of money from your home’s equity to help pay for home renovations. HELOCs are cheaper than other loan types, and you may qualify for larger amounts.

A HELOC is a type of revolving credit. Like a credit card, you can withdraw money from your account up to your credit limit. You’ll only pay interest on the amount withdrawn. And once you pay the money back, you can borrow it over again as the need arises. 

You can get a HELOC from a variety of lenders, including Alpine Credits. While you could get a HELOC from a traditional bank, you’ll need excellent credit to qualify. If your credit score is a little on the lower side, you’ll have better luck with lenders like Alpine Credit, where good credit isn’t necessary to qualify for a HELOC.

Personal Loan

If you don’t have enough equity in your home or just don’t want to risk using your house as collateral, a personal loan is a great alternative. You can use the funds from your personal loan to pay for your home renovations, then repay the amount borrowed in small and manageable installment payments that you can spread over a long time period. 

Your payments will include principal and interest portions. A lower interest rate will make your loan more affordable, which is more likely if you have good credit. You can still get approved for a personal loan with bad credit, though expect to pay higher interest as a result. 

Credit Card

If you plan to spend a small amount, credit cards may be the solution you need. Use caution though. If you need to carry a balance, high-interest rates make this an expensive option. The average credit cards begin around 19% interest and store-specific cards can be upwards of 30%. If you can pay balances off immediately, credit card rewards can be a bonus.

Does The Government Offer Any Financial Assistance For Home Renovations For Accessibility?

There are several federal and provincial government programs available to help offset the cost of making improvements to your home. Some of these include the following:

Home Accessibility Tax Credit (HATC)

If you made modifications to your home to provide a more accessible dwelling for a person with a disability, you may be eligible to claim some of the costs through the HATC program when you file income taxes the following year. Eligible expenses might include permits, plans, building supplies, equipment rentals, and fixtures.

Ontario Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit

This permanent personal income tax refund is available to seniors and their household family members. To be eligible, seniors must be at least 65 years old by the end of the tax year when the home renovations are done. Seniors can deduct 25% of qualifying expenses up to $10,000 in spending. 

Multigenerational Home Renovation Tax Credit

This refundable tax credit is available to eligible Canadians to make the necessary modifications to their homes to accommodate multiple generations living in the home. More specifically, the changes to the home must be made to accommodate a senior or person with a disability. The credit value is 15% of qualifying expenses or $50,000, whichever of the two is lower.

BC Home Renovation Tax Credit

Eligible seniors and people with disabilities may qualify for this refundable tax credit, which is worth up to $1,000 each year. The tax credit is available to seniors or family members living in their homes. 

Canada Greener Homes Grant

This government green grant is meant to help homeowners make their homes more energy efficient, which helps the environment and makes your home more affordable to operate. Grants range from $125 to $5,000.  

Bottom Line

Planning for a renovation so that you can share a residence with your parents is a complex process. Whether you want to share costs, reduce geographical distance or provide a greater amount of care, you have many options to fund the work. When you take the time to budget responsibly and carefully consider all of your options, you will find solutions that will work for everyone involved.

Home Renovations For Accessibility FAQs

How much can I get through the HATC benefit?

The HATC provides a tax credit of up to $3,000.

Are there any senior accessibility renovation programs in Quebec?

Yes, the Quebec government has a Residential Adaptation Program that provides financial assistance to residents with disabilities, regardless of income. The funds from the grant are meant to cover the cost of making changes to their homes to make them more accessible.

Can I use my Disability Tax Credit on renovations?

The DTC is meant to reduce the amount of income taxes that Canadians with physical or mental impairments may pay to offset some of the expenses related to these impairments. Any money saved from the DTC can be put towards all sorts of expenses, including home renovations.
Lisa Rennie avatar on Loans Canada
Lisa Rennie

Lisa has been working as a personal finance writer for more than a decade, creating unique content that helps to educate Canadian consumers in the realms of real estate, mortgages, investing and financial health. For years, she held her real estate license in Toronto, Ontario before giving it up to pursue writing within this realm and related niches. Lisa is very serious about smart money management and helping others do the same.

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