A home is one of the biggest and most important purchases of your life. Since it’s one of the places you’ll spend a lot of your time, you’ll want to ensure that it’s comfortable and meets all of your needs. For folks with reduced mobility, this means researching the cost of home adaptations.
Thankfully, there are lots of grants available that can help you lower the cost of home adaptations. In this article, we’ll go over some of them as well as help you plan your accessible home renovation!
Canadian home adaptation grants
A number of government programs can help reduce the cost of home adaptations. Most of them won’t cover all of your expenses, so you’ll have to pay the rest out of pocket. Also, keep in mind that most programs will only reimburse you after the renovation has been completed.
Home adaptation programs for special situations
In Quebec, there are three organizations that offer grants to folks whose disabilities were caused by particular incidents:
- Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité au travail (CNESST; French only), for workplace accidents
- Indemnisation des victimes d’actes criminels (IVAC), for victims of crime
- Société de l’Assurance Automobile du Québec (SAAQ), for traffic accidents
IVAC reimburses the cost of home adaptations without a set maximum, while SAAQ and CNESST only reimburse the cost of home adaptations supported by their experts. In addition, the latter organizations will also only reimburse you the cost of the most economical accessibility solution available for your needs. You can still choose a higher cost option if you’re able to cover the difference.
Each program has its own procedure; you’ll have to follow it if you want to obtain your reimbursement. This includes contacting any specialists required for home evaluations. Be sure to check and see which types of costs can be reimbursed before starting the process.
Note: If your disability was caused by military service, your home adaptations will be covered by Veterans Affairs Canada. Its conditions are similar to those of the three aforementioned provincial programs.
Residential Adaptation Assistance Program
If you don’t qualify for the programs in the previous section and you don’t have access to an insurance plan, then you can turn to Quebec’s Residential Adaptation Assistance Program (RAAP). While the program rarely covers all expenses, it’ll still cover a lot. The RAAP offers three options for home adaptation.
Option 1: Professional support
- Choose this option if you have to undertake major work.
- An occupational therapist will help you, and an inspector certified by the SHQ will authorize the work.
- With this option, you’re eligible for a reimbursement between $16,000 and $33,000, depending on the inspector’s evaluation.
Option 2: Self-determined needs and work
- If the work is minor and not completed yet, you could be reimbursed up to $8,000.
Option 3: Retroactive financial assistance
- If the work is minor and has already been completed, you can be reimbursed for 50% of work costs, up to a maximum of $4,000.
Montreal’s Home Adaptation Program
Montreal’s municipal administration manages the RAAP for homes located within the city limits. The Home Adaptation Program (HAP) is similar to its provincial equivalent; however, options 2 and 3 are not available.
The program reimburses up to $35,000 per dwelling unit and up to $45,000 per dwelling unit serving as a family-type resource (link to information in French) or private residence for nine or fewer seniors (link to information in French). Reimbursable expenses are listed directly on the program webpage.
Federal income tax credit for purchasing or renovating a property
Finally, if you are entitled to a federal income tax credit for a disabled person, a dependent, a disabled dependent aged 18 or over, or a caregiver, you can deduct your expenses when filing your income tax return under the federal income tax credit for home accessibility expenses.
The credit is limited to $10,000 per year, and the work must be done by a professional. The credit is not reduced by grants or other governmental credits.
Now that you’ve identified the program that can financially support your project, it’s time to start planning your renovation. There are lots of different accessibility needs out there, so let’s go over the main adaptations recognized by the programs.
Grants and Tax Credits Available for Home Adaptations
Total cost of adaptations
Based on their evaluations
Based on their evaluations
PAD – Provincial
Major adaptations: $16,000 – $33,000
Minor adaptations (not started): up to $8,000
Minor adaptations (completed): up to $4,000
PAD – Montreal
$35,000 – $45,000
Federal tax credit
Adapting the bathroom
Renovating a bathroom is a major project, with costs varying from $13,000 to $38,000. In most cases, the less changes needed to meet your accessibility needs, the more affordable the project.
To make the bathroom more accessible, you may need to open up space below the sink or choose a vanity that better fits your needs. You may also need to replace the toilet with one at a better height for you.
- Moving the vanity: ~$1,200
- Replacing the sink: ~$1,200
- Replacing the toilet: ~$600
It’s often necessary to install support bars in the shower and around the toilet. That said, sometimes minor modifications will suffice.
- Straight grab bar: $30 to $60
- L-shaped grab bar: $50 to $100
- Vertical-mounted shower head: ~$180
- Faucets with horizontal handles: ~$180
- Shower seat: ~$120
If you need to completely redo your shower to remove the rim or sliding door or change the surface because it’s too slippery, add another $6,000. If you’re looking at bathtubs, it’ll be around $2,400 for ones without a door and between $3,000 and $4,800 for ones with a door. Be sure to consider demolition costs, too.
Adapting the kitchen
The kitchen is generally the most expensive room to renovate. Since it serves as both a space to cook and spend time together, the needs of everyone living in the home should be taken into consideration. The final result is always unique!
Even when opting for more affordable products, remodelling a kitchen can cost between $18,000 and $36,000, excluding the cost of adapted appliances. Sometimes you can strategically position certain kitchen elements or add a few new elements to make it work.
- Wall-mounted sink (including installation): ~$1,200
- Wall-mounted cooktop (including installation): ~$1,200
- Side swing wall oven: ~$4,800 to $6,000
- Bottom freezer refrigerator: ~$1,800
Most kitchens will need to be modified to accommodate a wall-mounted sink. To avoid unexpected surprises and costs, have your renovation project evaluated by one of our Advisors!
Adapting your home’s entrance
Being able to safely enter your home is a must! If your front door isn’t at ground level, you can install an exterior lift to make your home more accessible. The simplest installation, which typically provides access to the first floor, will cost between $15,000 and $18,000. Many factors affect this price, some of which can cause the cost to jump.
Be sure to consider the cost of preparing the site, adjusting the gallery, and necessary annual maintenance. In some cases an access ramp will suffice, which averages about $90 per square foot.
Ideally, the door would be at grade level and wide enough for you to enter using a wheelchair. Threshold ramps ($50) are perfect for this, allowing you to easily overcome the obstacle. If you need to change the door, opt for lightweight composite or aluminum. These typically cost between $1,800 and $4,200, depending on the model, plus installation fees.
Other adjustments can have a large impact as well! For instance, if the path to your home has gravel, sand, or grass, consider replacing it with a solid surface with few joints. Also consider adding an exterior handrail ($300 to $600) and adjusting the height of the mailbox.
Creating an accessible interior
Once inside, space for movement is essential. If possible, create large and open spaces, even if you need to remove a few walls to do it.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to create accessible flooring, some choices are better than others. For instance, avoid flooring materials that are too smooth as they’re a slipping hazard and instead opt for flooring with tight joints. It’s also good to avoid carpeting, but if you have to use it, opt for low pile.
Flooring materials typically range from $3 to $18 per square foot, plus the cost of installation ($0.50 to $7 per square foot).
Interior doors are another element to consider. According to the Quebec Construction Code, doors must be between 300 mm and 600 mm wide, and the clearance in front of the door must be 1,500 mm. You may need to speak to a contractor to evaluate the cost and feasibility of modifying standard 30-inch doors. Ideally, doors should have swing-clear hinges ($100 per piece) and handles that meet your needs (e.g., horizontal handles; ~$60).
Heating, lighting, and electrical outlets
In some cases, you may need to relocate light switches, outlets, and thermostats to make them more accessible. It’s important to avoid uncomfortable positions and overexertion for daily tasks. On average, an electrician will charge about $240 for each item moved.
Accessibility and autonomy for homes with two floors or more
It may be necessary to purchase a stairlift for going up and down the stairs. Prices vary depending on the staircase structure, with the average cost being $15,000 for a staircase with only one turn. Don’t forget obligatory handling and maintenance costs, which can reach $3,000 per year.
Accessibility in the bedroom
Some folks may need a personal (or Hoyer) lift to reach their bed. A fixed personal lift that can transfer you between your bed and chair costs about $4,800. If you’re looking for a lift that can transfer you from the bed to the toilet, it’ll cost around $8,400.
A home that meets your needs is essential!
There are lots of other home adaptations that could improve your quality of life, such as universal remote controls, systems that automatically open and close doors, and motion detectors. We invite you to learn more about your options and the cost of home adaptations!
RenoAssistance has specialized Verified Contractors who can adapt properties for people living with reduced mobility. We are here for you, no matter your budget, because you deserve a comfortable living space.