There is a common war-cry among those who offer advice to those that face difficulty with their stairs and that tends to be, just get a bungalow!
Simple one-line solutions oftentimes do not grasp the very problems that they are looking to solve. The concept of the bungalow is one of those.
A bungalow is seen by those who judge the concept of aging in place as the no-brainer solution. Move to a one floor home and you are done. Although it may be a better solution, it does involve some forethought. Let’s investigate this a little further.
Firstly, unless it has been specifically designed to be at grade level, the Canadian bungalow is built to be above grade primarily for the purpose of frost lines and snow. This means that although your main living space may be on one floor, there will be steps to the entrances. The main entrance tends to have a porch and side entrances tend to be closer to grade but could have a complex interior stair arrangement to accommodate traffic to the main floor and down into the basement, yes, a basement!
Although not a completely Canadian concept the finished basement of any home is a great resource and place of joy for any homeowner. It houses the recreation space, storage for treasures, or perhaps the home office where your personal accomplishments take place. The typical raised bungalow in Canada is no different and in fact based on the floor space allotted to the main floor, the overall living space of the home could be doubled with a finished basement.
The basement of course, means stairs, which means you are dealing with the same issues as any other home styles available, maybe just in a less severe application (see Town homes or side splits for example). Simply put, accessing a bungalow may be the same as any home.
I grew up 1970’s ranch style bungalow. It had the aforementioned stairs and what it also had were very compartmentalized rooms. These layouts make it near impossible to maneuver any mobility device. When we visualize the modern bungalow, they tend to offer more open space but there are still many that have a boxy feel which again may not accommodate one’s aging in place plans.
I now live in a 2010 built bungalow, much more open space but still 3 steps up the front entrance and complex entrance from the garage (a nice convenience but something that will need addressing soon). There are still multiple improvements besides the access that can be made on this very well-built home, and many will be personal to our needs, the point being that a bungalow is not as neat and a tidy solution to aging in place as one might consider from afar.
If you have decided to make the move to a bungalow (and there are multiple upsides as well including the main floor access to bed, kitchen and bath) then the next large hurdle to clear is the availability and cost.
Bungalows are not built with the regularity of multi-story homes. By design they take up more lot space and are generally not the focus of developers. That said, there are more and more adult-living developments being planned and built, primarily based on the demand of those who do say, just get a bungalow!
Given the above reasons, bungalows are a somewhat rare commodity on the real estate marketplace and fetch higher selling prices, so this affects someone’s ability to just get a bungalow. The lack of inventory also brings with it a price tag.
With all the knowledge around bungalows, the one positive is that a Homelift is ideally suited for a bungalow setting because it can fit easily into the footprint and access all the floors (2) in the home. There is comfort in knowing that access is maintained in just a clean, simple, and effective means as a Homelift.
The upside of bungalow living does have its advantages, but they are not without their own design challenges so before the decision to move to a bungalow is made, have a think on the short comings first, decide how to make them go away (because you can) and then move forward with more knowledge than a simple slogan of just get a bungalow!