FlexHousing™ Brings Adaptable Housing Options to Canada

Rachel Loizos in Real Estate Trends

A recent article in DreamHomes & Condominiums magazine highlighted one of the most interesting trends in real estate that I have seen in awhile.   The trend is in what are called Flex-Homes, which as explained on the CMHC site, comprises a concept in housing that incorporates, at the design and construction stage, the ability to make future changes easily and with minimum expense.  The intention of FlexHousing™ is to allow homeowners to occupy a dwelling for longer periods of time while adapting to changing circumstances and meeting a wider range of needs. Similar concepts are referred to as Universal Housing in the United States and Australia and Lifetime Homes in the United Kingdom.

The CMHC site also goes on to list the myriad of ways that this style of housing is beneficial for everyone because of the ability of the home to grow with you.

Specifically, these homes are a solution to:

Reducing Child-Care Costs
Creating a livable space for an
aging parent to join the family and perhaps take care of a pre-school
child is less expensive than traditional day care costs.

Reducing the Frequency of Moves
The costs of real estate
agent fees, legal fees, building inspector fees, moving costs and
redecorating costs can run an average of $20,000.00 per move.

Reducing the Cost of Office Space
A home based office saves on office rent, travel costs back and forth
to the office and parking expenses. When you add in the value of the
time consumed in the daily commute, a home based office has a variety
of advantages.

Reducing Renovation Costs
By incorporating a number of features in advance, the costs of future
renovations are reduced. For example, the provision of suitable doors
and windows makes the creation of two bedrooms from one significantly
less expensive.

This concept has a very European feel to me – with its focus on
accessibility and relevance in design features. Due to the listed
benefits, it stands to reason that this style of housing will become
more popular in new developments. One of the best reasons cited for
FlexHousing™ is the ability of the home to accommodate the needs of
people with reduced mobility. Having said that , I am uncertain how
having a Flex-Home (as indicated) would allow me to work from home, no
matter what the advantages, or convince grandparents to move in with
their children to mind the grandkids, but I suppose the devil is in the
details – and it is possible – which is the important thing. My
warm and fuzzy side likes it but my cynical side would like to see for
myself before I can say it is the next best thing.

Rachel Loizos is an associate lawyer at Sotos LLP in Toronto. She practices in the area of real estate law.
Email Rachel

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