Saturday, February 14, 2015's happening!

Please allow me to share a few points that highlight the fact that VisitAbility is not simply a concept, it is in fact already happening in some key areas:

A - Winnipeg already has Canada's first VisitAble neighbourhood (the Bridgwater project in Waverley West), which will have 1,100 VisitAble homes once the project is fully developed in 2021 (hundreds of VisitAble homes already).

B - The City of Ottawa has already approved four affordable housing projects with 100% VisitAbility (here's an article about the most recently approved Longfields project  I also attended the Open House of the OCISO affordable housing project that contains VisitAble units on February 6th, which is in addition to the four projects that I mentioned

C - The first private investment property in Ottawa to include VisitAbility is already completed.

D - The Ontario Building Code now requires 15% of suites to be VisitAble in buildings taller than three storeys or 600m2, as of January 1, 2015. 

E - My comments about VisitAbility and Aging in Place to the AODA Review (last year) made it into page 49 of the Final Report, which was publicly released on February 13th. 

F - The City Of Ottawa Accessibility Design Standards will be adding VisitAbility standards (going beyond simply being in their RFPs); I was one of the guests at the consultative review that was held on January 27th, for the update later this year.

G - Our national VisitAbility Project received federal funding through the Social Development Partnerships Program, Disability Component.  Other federal interest in VisitAbility is also found with the National Building Code's Use and Egress Committee, and the CSA Group standard reference where legislative framework for VisitAbility is being reviewed (with reference to VisitAbility standards from CSA B651 that have been in place for years).

Yes, it's happening, and the majority of the housing industry needs to catch up.  Selling or renting your inventory to 100% of the population, regardless of age or level of ability, should make sense for your business.  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

No Step Entrance - Homes that are welcoming to All

VisitAbility is three basic features of barrier-free design that creates a home that is welcoming to all. Within these three features (one no step entrance, wider doors and hallways, and a washroom or powder room that can be accessed by someone requiring a mobility device), the one feature that seems to create some confusion and concern is the no step entrance.  Please allow me to show some photos that will hopefully clarify how to best accomplish this.  

Let me begin with site preparation, using Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada's first VisitAble neighbourhood, Bridgwater) as my example.
As you can see on this first illustration, the importance of proper site preparation is crucial during the planning stage of a new build.  The consultants involved in the Bridgwater project clearly had a good understanding of what was required.

Let's move on to the next feature that is important in a no step entrance, the inset foundation.
Many home builders and developers choose an 8 foot foundation depth so there might be a concern for the basement height if an inset foundation is selected.  One solution to this concern would be to consider open web joists, which allow you to conceal plumbing, electrical and mechanical ducts within the open spaces of these types of joists.  One example of an open-web joist can be found at: Their site also includes a downloadable Spec Guide that contains the 1 hour fire detail.  The advantage of the inset foundation is that it lowers the height of your entrance, which allows landscape sloping (rather than ramping) up to your main entrance. Having a covered entrance, as my next photo illustrates, does remove the concern of rain or snow near your main entrance.

And finally, the landscape sloping (typically 1:20, so 20 feet/units horizontal for every foot/unit vertical) is the final aspect of a successful no step entrance.  The advantage of a gradual slope is that it allows for a gentle approach to your main entrance, and has the added benefit of drawing water away from your foundation.  If you wish to see other photos of landscape sloping, please go to:
The end result is that your home is welcoming to all, safer for the occupants, and has a strong resale value because it can be sold to 100% of the population, regardless of age or level of ability. If you would like to learn more about VisitAbility, please go to  You may also wish to send me an email at