Canadian Contractor

Renovating for the elderly: New statistics show the massive opportunity

The comfort of familiar surroundings drives a growing home renovation segment


April 20, 2016
By John Bleasby

You’ve likely seen the ads on TV for devices like chairlifts (“I’m still the King of my castle”) and easy access bathtub and shower units. They’re aimed at the growing senior market, many of whom want to live at home, not relocate to an elder care facility.

85% of Canadians over 55 want to live in their current homes for as long as they can: CMHC
There’s a catch though, revealed in a study recently conducted by Ipsos Canada and HomEquity Bank; in order to age-in-place, nearly 60% of respondents identified renovations needed to make their wish come true. While 45% said the work would be only minor, over 10% said that major renovations would be needed. Nearly half of the renovation requirements cited were focused on kitchens and bathrooms, which makes sense since food preparation and personal hygiene are two of the key essentials for independent living.

Richard Speare finds easy-access bathrooms to be at the top of his clients' wish lists

Richard Speare finds easy-access bathrooms to be at the top of his clients’ wish lists

Their wish to live at home = your opportunity
The growing demand for senior-friendly renovations means a huge opportunity for renovators from coast-to-coast. Accessibility products and devices that allow easy transition from outdoors to indoors, or from floor-to-floor are just the beginning. Renovations that include full bathrooms on the main floor with perhaps a new master bedroom on the main floor level find themselves at the top of the renovation list.

Success through working directly and with specialty partners
It’s a market that makes up a large portion work for Speare Construction & Contracting. “Most clients we are dealing with today are asking for roll-in or low-threshold showers,” observes Richard Speare, owner of the Barrie, ON firm. “That would be followed by entry into the home, possibly a ramp or new purpose-built entry. We’ve also partnered with specialty firms to provide not only chairlifts up staircases but to frame retrofit in-home elevator shafts for access to upper levels. For some clients with mobility issues, we’ve converted rec rooms into new bedrooms and powder rooms into full bathrooms on the main floor.”

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Can seniors afford these renovations?
Many Canadian over 55 years own their own homes, in fact more so than any other demographic group. Their home equity is likely higher, too. The continued popularity of reverse mortgages is one way this aging and retired population can gain access to funds to pay for work done. In fact, the same study indicated that 25% of respondents were considering such financing options. Being able to continue living among familiar surroundings in a neighborhood they enjoy, close to friends, family and activity, all combine to make their later years far more comfortable.

Parents in with their children means a full-time family reunion, and a requirement for renovations focused on privacy

Parents moving in with their children means a full-time family reunion, and a requirement for renovations focused on privacy

What about the concept of the multi-generation family home, with rooms converted for older parents or new additions are designed and built with seniors in mind? Again, it’s the desire to live in comfortable surroundings near family, while preserving privacy. “I think it was more common in the 50’s and 60’s and it’s becoming more common again” notes Speare.

The famous boomer bubble is getting on, and with it comes the opportunity to focus on a market that is certain to grow over time. The statistics don’t lie!

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1 Comment » for Renovating for the elderly: New statistics show the massive opportunity
  1. Richard Speare says:

    Great article John! I should add that there is the Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit, which is a provincial program you could qualify for to help with the cost of making your home safer and more accessible.
    Rick Speare

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