A home design that keeps all abilities in mind
TICKING all the boxes while home-hunting is difficult at the best of times but for elderly or disabled buyers, the criteria is often much more specific and challenging to satisfy.
Housing Industry of Australia spokesman Kristin Brookfield said t here was a growing consumer call for access-aware home design.
“We have certainly heard from consumers,” she said. “(At display homes) once you raise the topic and provide that information, they are definitely interested.”
Henk Mulder, of Mulder + Kennedy Architects, said there was more awareness and appreciation for amenity than in the past and this was the right direction for housing.
“What you should be looking to achieve is not t he minimum s t a ndard b ut t he de s i r a b l e standard,” he said.
“Everybody’s got different abilities and the better the amenity that can be provided, the more valuable and qualitative everybody’s living is going to be.”
Mr Mulder, who i s c ur r ently s el l i ng 1 27 Mildmay St, Fairfield, which includes an openplan bathroom with a frameless shower for easy wheelchair access, said designs didn’t need to be complex or use extra floor space. “It’s just a case of being aware,” he said. Dave a nd Pam McGowen a r e c ur r e ntl y searching for a wheelchair-friendly home after putting their custom-built property at 20 Mariner Court, Newport on the market.
Mr McGowen, who is wheelchair-bound, said he had designed the home to suit his needs yet it still looked like a regular home.
“I think a lot of people like the house because it is so big and open,” he said.
“The wide doorways give it a spacious feel and it has big bedrooms. You don’t feel so cramped in.”
The property features a pool with one sloped side, a bar with space for a chair to slide under, and a kitchen with a regular bench top plus a lower cutting bench disguised as a drawer.
“The shower had to be a fully-open wet room, light switches had to be a little lower and power points a little higher,” Mr McGowen said.
“I just tried to position myself in every room in the house and see how it would feel.”
The home, l i sted for $ 1.2 million, i s spread across a single l evel without steps and backs directly onto the canal.
Mr Mulder said building or renovating with disability access in mind was a smart investment decision, particularly with an ageing population.
“Make accommodation not just appropriate for yourself but for users who want to purchase down the path,” he said.
“The a g e i ng p o p u l a t i o n i s t he c r i t i c a l demographic to take account of.
“Livability means people are able to enjoy their accommodation for much longer without having to compromise on how they want to use their own place.”
According to 2012 figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, more than 5 per cent of the population have “profound” or “severe” coreactivity limitations and live in a household rather than care facility.
The 2011 census also f ound 13 per cent of Queenslanders were aged 65 or older.