Guy’s company, Penguin Living, is answering the urgent need for wheelchair-accessible rental housing by modifying bungalows in residential neighbourhoods in Hamilton and Toronto. These houses will be transformed into two independent, fully accessible units, and on each of these residential properties, there will be a custom-built, fully accessible detached garden suite.
Over the years, I’ve encouraged hundreds of investors and realtors to create accessible rental units like these. In my Winter 2014 Outspoken! article titled “A High Demand For Accessible Rental Accommodations,” I discussed the rental housing opportunity available to savvy investors. And in my 2021 Community article titled “Laneway Housing: Accessible Urban Living In Your Backyard!” I introduced the benefits of building accessible garden suites, so it was very gratifying to see the Penguin Living suites become a reality.
The Province of Ontario recently brought in legislation to allow three dwelling units on most residential properties across Ontario, and this change allows Penguin Living to maximize the potential on each of their properties.
These rental units will appeal to a wide range of people, including:
- People with disabilities who are looking for a fully accessible apartment
- Individuals who need an accessible space to rehab after surgery.
- Older adults who want to age in place. These homes are all located in established residential areas, benefiting people who wish to stay in the neighbourhood they love.
- People who already live in the neighbourhood and are looking for a place where their adult kids or parents can live close to them but still maintain their privacy and independence.
- People who want a visitable design, a home where everyone, regardless of age or mobility, can safely enter and stay for a visit.
I was impressed when I toured one of Penguin’s Hamilton, Ontario, properties this past summer while it was still under construction. Guy is very passionate about this initiative and is excited to help fill a need in the rental-accessible housing market. He said, “It just makes good sense to help provide housing options for people with disabilities and older adults looking to age in place.”
Penguin Living has in-house teams for design, construction and property management. This helps to keep their costs down and allows the units to be as affordable as possible.
The house designs provide entrance and bathroom solutions; these are the key features my clients look for in an accessible home. These are also the two main features of a visitable home. Being able to host family gatherings and knowing that all of your guests will be welcome because of the barrier-free entrance and bathroom provides peace of mind and is a benefit to all.
“It just makes good sense to help provide housing options for people with disabilities and older adults looking to age in place.”
The Penguin Living houses are located on large lots that allow a private driveway and easy access to the backyard garden suite. The lots also provide enough space for each unit to enjoy its own outside sitting area. The private covered porch and front yard views from the main floor units capture the quiet residential feel. Basement units have large windows that look out over a private terrace, allowing for a secluded, comfortable feeling. They are definitely not your typical basement apartments. And the garden suites look out over the quiet and private backyard. A heated driveway and walkways will make access safer during the winter months.
The entrance solution to the units in the main house is provided via a lift that has a direct covered doorway onto the heated driveway. This provides year-round level wheelchair access to both the upper and lower units. Each unit also has dedicated exterior stairs, and the garden suite will have a gently sloped landscaped ramp leading to the main door.
Bathrooms in all units include a full turning radius, roll-under sink with a levered faucet, roll-in shower, toilet, tilting mirror, high colour contrast and grab bars throughout. The units in the main house have two bathrooms each, and the garden suite has one bathroom. All of the bathrooms will be barrier-free.
The kitchen area is also designed with accessibility in mind. There are roll-under counters, levered faucets, enlarged cabinet handles, and high-contrast colours.
A lot of thought has gone into the bedroom areas, too. They have lowered window sills for better sightlines, light switches that are within easy reach, and the closets have pull-down clothing rods.
These units will provide a much-needed accessible option in the rental housing market in Hamilton and Toronto. If you’d like more details on rolling into one of these rentals, please call or text me at 416.417.5377.
Broker, Barrier Free Real Estate Specialist RE/MAX Prime Properties Unique Group, Brokerage