Lytton looks to rebuild to adaptable standards

The standard aims to support residents of all needs into the future.

Lytton, B.C.

The village of Lytton as it was before the 2021 wildfire. – Province of B.C.

Key Takeaways:

  • The community is the first in North America to adopt the standard into its bylaws.
  • The standard includes designs that can be easily adapted to different resident needs, especially those related to aging and mobility.
  • Officials believe the adaptability will also save money in the long run with fewer renovation and healthcare costs.

The Whole Story:

Officials in B.C. are looking to rebuild the village of Lytton in a way that is accessible and healthy for all stages of life. 

The village passed bylaws that make it the the first community in North America to require SAFERhome Universal Design Standards. 

The village was almost completely wiped out by a wildfire in 2021. Two people were killed in the blaze.

Officials stated that the new bylaws will ensure all new homes are built to the universal standard of design and build homes that easily support a much broader range of people with different abilities to fully use and fully enjoy their homes.

SAFERhome Standards provides the only building standard and certification program in Canada that features the application of universal design where anyone can age-in-place and live healthier lives in an ergonomically safer and electronically pre-prepared home. SAFERhome’s 15-point building standard ensures homes include simple and practical design features like:

  • Wider doorframes with little to no thresholds that improve ease of use and lessen tripping hazards.
  • Wider hallways and stairs, with wall reinforcement improve flow and ease of use, and the addition of stairlifts in future if needed. 
  • Easy to reach bath and shower controls.
  • Accessible electrical outlets.
  • Sinks with adjustable height.
  • Technology-ready to connect automation and control systems such as automated door openers. 

Officials believe the adoption of the SAFERhome Standards as compared to current housing units presents significant potential cost savings to the village and its residents in the following areas:

  • Fewer future renovation costs.
  • Less costs for direct home support services. 
  • Fewer home accidents. 
  • Less personal occupant costs and opportunities associated with negative social labeling.
  • reduction in the number of ambulance call-outs related to falls and other mobility-related in-home accidents.
  • Healthcare cost savings related to shortening patient hospital stays as SAFERhomes are ready to accept walkers, scooters and other mobility devices and easily adapt to changing needs such as adding safety bars, safety gates or stair lifts.
  • Cost reduction for developers to provide units for social-based housing within their main market developments as issues around accessibility are automatically eliminated as a by-product of good design. 
  • Negative social labelling is also eliminated as a by-product of good design.

The initiative is sponsored by the not-for-profit SAFERhome Standards Society, which since 2004 has spearheaded the adoption of Universal Design principles.

“With over 1,800 homes built to the SAFERhome Standards, our partners like BC Housing are building more universally designed housing than any other housing developer in the world, influencing the residential construction industry and future-proofing all BC Housing-funded projects by including the SAFERhome Standards in their 2019 Design Guidelines and Construction Standards,” said the society.


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