The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) has released a Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement (Consultation RIS) composed for the ABCB by the Centre for International Economics. This report intends to count up the advantages and expenses affiliated with choices under consideration to present mandated accessibility requirements for housing under the National Construction Code (NCC). These choices are inspired by the Livable Housing Design Guidelines (LHDGs) devised by Livable Housing Australia (LHA).

The RIS discovered that the expenses affiliated with these mandates outweighed the benefits.

It’s good, though, that this issue is meriting serious consideration, as home design must be made to cater to everyone’s safety and convenience. The structure must change to suit the citizens.

The goal of the RIS is to guarantee that houses are built to meet the needs of everyone, including those that are older and that have physical challenges. To achieve this, universal design features must be standardized, not optional.

In 2010, the housing business developed universal design guidelines by way of LHA. Yet as these guidelines were not mandatory, some volume building designers have been slow to adapt them.

In the meantime, our lifestyles and family units are morphing. And the country is not keeping up. The Australian Government is obligated by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Sustainable Development Goals to regard “universal design” as the way to go, by way of the mechanisms of the built environment and housing.

What some don’t know is that “universal design” does not have to translate to unsightly, hard to install rails and access ramps. And just a few tweaks, alterations and additions can make all the difference.

The key to mastering this special type of home design is to put yourself in the place of those most in need of it. Yes, as per the Access to Premises Standard, wheelchair access must be considered.

Yet also to be considered is the fact that everyone ages, and we all will need accessible features as well to be able to age in our own homes.

Plus we all might trip from time to time, which render features like step free entrances helpful to everyone at any stage of life.

Also when designing adaptable homes, the needs of caregiving family members must be considered as well. In short, healthy homes are better for everyone, and we cannot afford not to have them.

Let’s make our voices heard. The Consultation RIS regarding Accessible Housing will be accepting comments until 31 August.

The Building Designers Association of Australia (BDAA), the Australian Network for Universal Housing Design and Ecolateral’s John Moynihan have Crossed the Threshold to develop an exciting educational endeavor for the building design industry. John is a registered designer and builder as well as a certified LHA assessor.

All building designers and building professionals, interested in the delivery of homes for all ages and abilities, should attend ‘Crossing the Threshold. The course is an interactive webinar over five 1.5 hr blocks, focused on the practical application of accessible housing and universal housing principles. It is intended for those who design, construct and approve homes for residents of all ages and health status. We should be future proofing the Australian housing stock to meet an ageing population. 

Crossing the Threshold to Accessible Housing Event was sold out in August within days. If you are interest in being added to a waiting list and notified when this event next runs, please register your details HERE.