What type of tax credit can I get for my home renovation in BC?

In order to help seniors and those with disabilities stay in the comfort of their own homes for as long as possible, BC has a number of programs available. These programs are meant to help with the cost of permanent home renovations aimed at improving accessibility, functionality and mobility. This includes home adaptations like raised toilets, walk-in bathtubs, grab bars, sliding shelves, non-slip flooring, and more. It doesn’t apply to regular home maintenance jobs, like new roofing, plumbing, electrical, heating or cooling systems. You can see the full list of what, and what does not qualify, here.

  • Home Renovation Tax Credit for Seniors. Must be a resident of BC, over 65 or doing renovations for a relative over 65 who is living with you.
  • Home Renovation Tax Credit for Persons with Disabilities. Available for a person with a disability or a family member living with a person with a disability. Must be able to claim the Disability Tax Credit (Form T2201). If you cannot, it still may be possible to claim it if you have qualifying expenses.
  • Disability Tax Credit T2201.  Those with a disability that limits their ability in daily living may be entitled to receive a DTC certificate. The DTC reduces annual tax payable and may qualify you to other government grants for safe and independent living. You may also qualify for a refund of previously paid taxes while suffering from the disability. 

Claiming these credits is done when  you file your T1 income tax return by filling out Schedule BC(S12). You’ll need to keep supporting documentation, including receipts from suppliers and contractors. Those doing the renovations must have a GST/HST number.

The Home Adaptations for Independence (HAFI) program. This program provides financial assistance to help eligible seniors and people with disabilities in British Columbia to continue to live in the comfort of their home. If you or a member of your family is having difficulty performing “activities of daily living” independently and safely – the HAFI program may be able to help. 

The Veterans Independent Program (VIP). This program provides financial assistance to help veterans continue to live safely and independently in the comfort of their home. 

We at Stay Able are experienced facilitators of the above programs and credits that help fund adaptations to create senior friendly homes. For more information on any of these tax credits, please call or email us for free consultation.

A hard choice: do we invest in a senior friendly home upgrade, or should I seek other alternatives?

Our aging population is growing and eventually the time will come when most of us have to ask the question: Do I invest in a senior friendly home upgrade, or should I seek other alternatives? We could be asking in regard to ourselves, our parents, grandparents or other family members. 

The reasons for choosing other alternatives could be due to the level of medical care required, the person’s mental and/or physical abilities, or the desire to move to an assisted living facility. But if staying at home is an option, there are many things that can be done to make aging-in-place a safe and comfortable choice.

Generally, people prefer to stay in the home in which they’ve raised families and made many memories. The environment is comfortable and familiar, medical and social networks are in place, and there is more freedom to live to your own schedule rather than an institution’s. Assisted living facilities are expensive, and while house upgrades also have costs, you can budget for different updates as needs arise.

As more people are entering their senior years, more services are popping up to provide for those able to stay in senior friendly homes. Home care assistance, Uber for appointments and getting around, and home grocery delivery all help with day-to-day living. There are also tax credits and programmes like HAFI (The Home Adaptations for Independence) which provides financial assistance to help eligible seniors and people with disabilities in British Columbia, to continue to live in the comfort of their home. So when staying at home is an option, making house upgrades to age-in-place is becoming an easier and more affordable choice every day.

How can I make my kitchen more senior-friendly?

As people age they experience a decreased range of motion. It might be the result of stiffening joints, injuries, the onset or worsening of degenerative diseases, or a loss of strength. Whatever the cause, the best way to maintain an independent and comfortable lifestyle is by making adaptations that increase the ability to access what we need. 

This is especially true in areas like the kitchen. Kitchens, particularly those in older homes, benefit the most from a kitchen remodelling. Older base cabinets lack drawers and just have cupboards, limiting accessibility and storage space. The solution is to install Handi Glides in existing cabinetry. These easy-to-use drawers allow plenty of room to organize useful items and create lots of easy-access storage space. The same adaptation can be made with the pantry too.

Other kitchen renovations include:

  • Replacing knobs with cabinet door pulls, which are easier to grip.
  • Slip-resistant flooring is essential for safety and preventing falls. 
  • Directional LED lighting over cooking elements and in darker areas of the kitchen are a great help for those with diminished or impaired vision. 
  • Even replacing old facets with a gooseneck, single-handle faucet and pull-out sprayer is helpful and makes life easier.

The goal of customizing a senior-friendly kitchen is to remove barriers to accessibility. By making appropriate adaptations, seniors and those with disabilities enjoy greater comfort and longer independent living in their own beloved homes.

Popular bathroom upgrades for seniors

According to a 2014 report from the Public Health Agency of Canada, injuries from falls are a leading cause of hospitalization for seniors, often resulting in a decreased quality of life or death. 20-30% of Canadian seniors are injured this way, with half of all falls occurring in the home. Falling hazards in the home include slippery floors; poorly designed tubs, toilets and fixtures; and lack of aids like grab bars.

The number of falls and hospitalizations is increasing every year. This is due to an aging population, with many of them on medications that may affect their vision, balance, alertness and reaction time. Fortunately, there are preventative steps we can take to reduce the risk of falls. Bathroom adaptations that specifically address the hazards associated with tubs, toilets and floors, increase bathroom mobility and safety.

Here’s a list of bathroom adaptations for seniors and people with disabilities:

  • Tub to Shower Conversion
  • Assistive Devices such as handheld shower, shower seat, safety pole and grab bars at appropriate locations
  • Replacing standard height toilet to Comfort Height Toilet
  • Slip Resistant Flooring
  • New Vanity to accommodate more drawers for accessibility
  • Handi Glides adapted to existing vanity for accessibility
  • Single Handle faucet for mobility and comfort
  • LED lighting to improve visibility
  • Door levers instead of door knobs for mobility and comfort
  • Bathtub Cut-Away Access

Falls can be devastating to the individual but they also affect the family, friends and the support network around them. Pre-planning for prevention will allow seniors and people with disabilities to stay mobile, move around more safely and live independently for longer in their own homes.

What is a bathtub step-in conversion?

Accidental slips and falls are a serious issue for seniors and people with disabilities. Bathrooms, and bathtub safety, are particular areas of concern. Activities like getting in and out of the tub is a simple task most of us don’t even think about. But for those with unsteady balance or diminished ability to lift their legs, that simple task becomes dangerous or even impossible.

Fortunately, there is a simple fix to make bathtub access safer and easier. A bathtub step-in conversion, also called a tub-to-shower-conversion, modifies the existing bathtub so that one can just walk in, rather than having to step in or lift their legs over a high tub wall.

To create a tub-to-shower conversion, a portion of the side of the tub is cut away, then the edges are capped with an attractive, slip-resistant form. This can be done on all kinds of bathtubs, whether they’re made from acrylic or fiberglass, porcelain, cast-iron or steel. If you want to retain the ability to have a bath, the form can be modified with a small, waterproof door that still lets someone walk in, close the door and fill the bath.

A bathtub conversion has a number of advantages:

  • Doesn’t require an expensive remodel, which makes it good for the pocketbook
  • Can be finished very quickly, in only a few hours
  • Can be done on bathtubs made out of acrylic, fiberglass, porcelain, cast-iron or steel

Installing a bathtub step-in conversion is a positive move toward independent living bathrooms which extends the length of time people can stay living comfortably in their own homes.

How can I make a bathroom senior friendly?

Independent living is a goal we all want, for our aging parents, and for ourselves when the time comes. Creating a senior-friendly bathroom is an important step in that direction. Since the bathroom is one of the most used, and most dangerous, rooms in the home it’s important to address some specific concerns. Here we’ll look at some bathroom adaptations that will make it easier, safer, and more comfortable for seniors to continue living independently.

Bathtub to shower conversions

Getting into and out of a bathtub becomes harder as we age. It increases the chances of slipping and falling. The solution to this is to convert that old, worn out tub to a beautiful, brand new shower. Assistive devices such as handheld shower, shower seat, safety pole and grab bars are installed at appropriate locations.

Custom new vanity

Traditional cabinets can be hard for the elderly to access. These can be replaced with Handi-Glides for easy-access drawer space and to increase functional storage. Handi-Glides can also be adapted to an existing vanity. Switching to a single-handle faucet increases mobility and comfort.

Comfort height toilet

You should be able to sit down on a toilet and stand up without a struggle. If that’s not the case, replacing a standard height toilet with a Comfort Height Toilet should help. Raising the seating area assists those with knee and back pain or those with mobility issues.

Further bathroom adaptations

Wet floors and old or worn carpeting are the primary causes of slips, trips, stumbles and falls. Slip-resistant flooring provides for more secure footing while moving about. Additional LED lighting will improve visibility for old eyes that don’t see as well. You can also back-light electrical wall switches. Swap door knobs for door levers. Levers are much easier to use for those with decreased grip strength, arthritis, or other hands and wrist problems.

5 top tips on planning a home reno for seniors

Most of us want to be able to live in our homes for as long as possible. Fortunately, the challenges introduced by aging in place can be easily met with a home renovation. Homes for seniors focus on independence, mobility and safety. These can include more lighting and slip-resistant flooring, creative solutions to accommodate walking aids, adjusting the heights of counters, installing glides, and more. Here are 5 top tips for doing a home reno for aging residents.

1. Handrails. These are important anywhere balancing and steadying are needed. On stairs, install handrails on both sides.

2. Widen doorways and hallways for wheelchairs and walkers. Traditionally, these openings measured from 22 to 27 inches wide. To comfortably allow a wheelchair or walker to pass through, they need to be 32 inches wide. Barn doors and sliding doors are excellent options and easy to use.

3. Bathroom modifications. Grab bars help with raising and lowering oneself and can be placed near the shower, toilet, and bathtub. Consider a Tub-to-Shower conversion. You can also add seating in the shower area. A bathtub cut-away is a unique solution to improve accessibility in an existing tub. Switch out door knobs for levers. These are easier and more comfortable to use.

4. Kitchen adaptations. Converting cupboard and pantry space to drawer space increases accessibility and storage. Install cabinet door pulls instead of knobs and a single handle faucet with gooseneck and pull out sprayer for better ease-of-use.

5. Stairs. Stairs present a significant fall hazard for the elderly. Install ramps for wheelchairs for greater access to, from, and around the home. You can also have a chair lift installed.