Renovating for accessibility? There may be some help.

Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit In 2012 it is estimated that 14.6 per cent of Ontario’s population is sixty-five years of age or older. By 2026 (I know, it sounds very science fiction but it’s only fourteen years away) it is estimated that the number will grow to 21.4 per cent*—that’s a 150% increase. The changing age demographics in Ontario will have an affect on how we live and, in particular, the needs we have for mobility and accessibility in regard to our homes. As more people start using walkers and mobility scooters access issues will arise. Some may choose to move to a condominium or stay with family. Others may choose to stay in their homes and do some special modifications like build a ramp or widen doorways.
The Ontario Government has already recognized this and has instituted the Ontario Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit that allows you to get a fifteen percent tax credit (maximum $1500) to help you make the necessary renovations for you, or an elderly person living in your home, to stay in that home.
This might include:

  • certain renovations to permit a first-floor occupancy or secondary suite for a senior
  • wheelchair or mobility scooter ramps
  • widening passage doors
  • lowering existing counters/cupboards
  • installing adjustable counters/cupboards

Here is what the government site says:

“The Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit is a permanent, refundable personal income tax credit for seniors and family members who live with them. If you qualify, you can claim up to $10,000 worth of eligible home improvements on your tax return. The amount of money you get back for these expenses is calculated as 15 per cent of the eligible expenses you claim. For example, if you spend and then claim $10,000 worth of eligible expenses, you could get $1,500 back.

To qualify, you either have to be sixty-five years of age or older or have a senior living with you who is. The renovations also have to qualify. There is a complete list on their website at: and you should go to that site or speak to a government representative to verify that what you are planning qualifies. The good news is that the amount of income you make doesn’t matter.
Just because you may have to make some changes it doesn’t mean it has to affect the aesthetics of your home.
Most have us have seen a DIY-built ramp at the front of a home that, well, looks a little aesthetically challenged. It doesn’t have to. That’s where a creative design-focussed builder can play a role. With the myriad of materials available, combining them with a good design can often help to make the changes unobtrusive. But, looking good isn’t the only consideration. Ongoing maintenance is also a consideration. With the new man-made materials available on the market today, you can have all of the benefits of a design that looks like wood, without the maintenance.
Building permits are also important. You certainly don’t want to invest in making significant changes to your home to find that you have violated the building code. Any reputable contractor should be able to advise you on this.
And, I guess that’s the key. If you do have to make changes to your home, hire your contractor with care. Find someone that has been recommended and that you can trust to deliver a creative solution, good workmanship and good value.
That’s all for now. Until next time, we’ll keep “Building it Right!”™

*source: compiled from Statistics Canada estimates, 2006 and 2011, and Ontario Ministry of Finance projections.

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