As mentioned in our earlier post, the City has made significant changes to private residential requirements in the area of accessibility*. We commend these changes as accessibility is vitally important for an inclusive community and is often an overlooked facet of sustainability. The City of Vancouver has implemented changes that are meant to improve accessibility in the present, but also to simplify future retrofits a resident’s mobility needs change over time.
Examples include increasing the minimum entry door width to 865mm (34″), requiring a threshold of no more than 13mm (1/2″) in height, and requiring door handles to be of a design that does not require a tight grasp (ie. levered handles). This provision for threshold and door handles also applies to all interior doors. These are concepts that we already include as a best practice for our designs. All faucets for kitchens and bathroom sinks must also be of a design that does not require a tight grasp, and a new minimum clear floor space has been added for at least one bathroom in a home. It must be a minimum of 750mm x 1200mm (29.5″ x 47″) clear in front of the sink, toilet and shower for manoeuvrability and ease of use. Changes that are meant to facilitate the accommodation of future accessibility needs include requiring at least one bathroom to be configured to for the future installation of a low barrier shower and to include reinforcing adjacent to the toilet, bathtub and shower for future grab bar installation.
This new requirements should mean that your home can more easily adapt to your needs over time, and as such, you can live in your home for a much longer period of time without costly upgrades. In addition, these small, but significant changes mean that people with limited mobility can have better access to the homes of their friends and family within their community. In fact, we are familiar with many of these strategies already, as we have implemented them in homes we have designed. We are excited that the City of Vancouver has taken pro-active steps towards accessibility, as we believe in the importance of designing a home with future needs in mind.
* The VBBL 2014 has not yet been officially released. Bylaws change, are open to interpretation, and are influenced by project and site specific scenarios. We hope to shed some light on some aspects of the code / bylaw, however the information we provide should only be considered as a starting point for your research. In all cases, the Vancouver Building Bylaw (http://vancouver.ca/your-government/vancouver-building-bylaw.aspx) shall prevail. And as always, hire an architect like One SEED, or code consultant, to assist with code analysis.