A home de­sign that keeps all abil­i­ties in mind

The Courier-Mail - Property - - REALESTATE - ME­LANIE BURGESS

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.

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