Housing for Life Guidelines

Front cover of handbook showing a drawing of a houseHere is another set of guidelines for housing to add to your collection. This one is by Master Builders Association ACT. Although ten years old the principles still hold. Apart from the usual attention to access and circulation spaces, it includes thermal comfort, security, lighting, operating controls and maintenance. Lots of diagrams and drawings help with explanations. There is also a handy metric conversion chart for people still using imperial measures. The guide was funded by the Commonwealth Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Other handbooks include:

Go to the Housing Design Guidelines section on this website for more about kitchens, bathrooms, lighting and other aspects of home design.  

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Universal Design in Housing

Front cover of book showing lots of different sized and coloured cubes stacked. The title banner is in dark yellow For anyone not familiar with the movement for universal design in housing, Introduction to Housing has a chapter that gives a really good overview of how to incorporate UD into the design. It covers each of the design features and explains that they can be factored into moderately sized homes. The chapter addresses each of the classic principles of universal design and how they apply to housing design. A case study illustrates the features. As with many Google Books, many of the pages are freely available, but for the full chapter you will need to contact the authors, Hartje, Ewen and Tremblay or purchase the book.

Introduction to Housing, 2nd edition, is edited by Katrin B. Anacker, Andrew T. Carswell, Sarah D. Kirby, Kenneth R. Tremblay. 

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A tiny house can be accessible

Inside the Wheel Pad showing the bedroom with a colourful quilt on the bedInhabitat website has a feature about the Wheel Pad. The 200 sq ft (18.5 sqm) residence is designed to be an add-on to an existing home. It comes on a trailer and stays on the wheels. This means it can be taken away again if the “house” isn’t needed any more. The original idea arose out of a need to incorporate someone after an accident that made them dependent on a wheelchair for getting around. The explanatory  video on this website is almost ten minutes long, but well worth the watch. It covers the design process, the features, and finally two wheelchair users who visit and give their feedback about the design. This idea could be adapted in Australia as long as the existing home has a yard big enough to take it, and they claim it can be built in a day. A must see for anyone involved in providing home modifications. Also suited to bringing a parent close to home.

Editor’s note: I found the trial by the two wheelchair users at the end very informative. The ramp was a bit steep and long so they used the wooden rails to pull themselves up (splinters were mentioned), and one had difficulty coming over the threshold. They discussed what worked and what might not and how things could be changed to suit.

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Specialist guide for wheelchair housing

Front cover of the guide. Line drawings of housing using light blue, dark blue and lime greenThe latest Habinteg Wheelchair Housing Design Guide has input from several specialists at Centre for Accessible Environments and the Royal College of Occupational Therapists. It is good to see a separate guide for wheelchair users. Not all wheelchair users need the same features as their abilities vary greatly from part time users of a manual chair to those who are fully dependent on a large powered chair. And more importantly, when it comes to the concept of “accessible housing” designers tend to think only of wheelchair users when there are many other types of disability that need consideration. Wheelchair housing is not the same as universal design in housing. There are instructions on how to purchase in the UK, and you can also access a copy via Angus and Robertson.

“The clear explanations and the reasoning behind the technical standards will help practitioners gain a better understanding of how to maximise the independence of residents – and will be particularly useful to those who wish to go beyond basic minimum standards and help create inclusive and cohesive communities”

Habinteg’s mission is to champion inclusion by providing and promoting accessible homes and neighbourhoods that welcome and include everyone. We do this in three ways: providing homes and services, demonstrating our expertise and influencing decisions.  

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23 ways to benefit with UD

A modern kitchen with a bowl of fruit in the foreground and a stove and microwave in the backgroundAdaptive Environments is a Canadian website with design ideas. Good design means functionality while remaining nearly invisible. This is one of the difficulties of showcasing universal design – it is not always obvious until it is pointed out. It is more obvious when something is poorly designed. It is about being thoughtful in the design process. The kitchen and bathroom get good attention with great tips in this article on the Adaptive Environments webpage – 23 Ways you can benefit from universal design. There are lots of nice pictures too. 

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Designing homes for inclusion and independence

Front cover of the guidelines showing three people standing and one in a wheelchair looking out over a beach sceneThe aim of the NDIS is to create independence and inclusion, and that includes providing suitable homes in mainstream settings. So no more segregated group homes – more homes in regular neighbourhoods. Federal funding for NDIS recipients has increased demand for specialists in the accessible housing field. To assist designers and builders produce specialist housing, Summer Housing has produced design guidelines, Designing for Inclusion and Independence – An Explanatory Guide to support the Briefing and Design of Accessible Housing. They are keen to build sector capacity and share knowledge and resources.

This guide serves as a practical tool to develop the brief, design and specifications of high quality accessible housing. Key considerations are social inclusion, usability, homelike environments, amenity and cost-efficiency. The guide includes checklists as well as practice tips and includes current design benchmarks such as the Livable Housing Australia Guidelines, and Specialist Disability Accommodation Design Category requirements. The guide is made up of six parts:

  • Introduction
  • Part A: Spatial Planning – Typology
  • Part B: Spatial Planning – Accessible Dwelling Elements
  • Part C: Construction and Detailing – Building Elements
  • Part D: Construction and Detailing – System Elements
  • Appendices

Summer Foundation also published a report, New Housing Options in November 2015. The learning from their early projects informed the new guidelines.

SDA Consulting has a free checklist for Specialist Disability Accommodation.

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Kitchen remodel with universal design

Picture of a large kitchen with lots of storage and an island bench at two heights. There is a second sink lowered and with access underneathWhile the design and build remodel blog site is a commercial venture, it provides some good tips for things to think about when fitting a new kitchen. Learn the Characteristics of a Universal Design Kitchen Remodel emphasises both functionality for the whole family and aesthetics. Space, Layout, Doors, Traffic Patterns, Workstations, and well designed fittings are all covered – that includes lighting. There are links to three more blog pages. Thanks to Lifemark NZ for this one. 

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What you see and what we see

LifemarkLifemark logo. White text on magenta strip with turquoise circle behind with five white stars above the magenta strip and the word HOME below has taken designers to task in its October newsletter. It has a segment that points out that what looks like a dream bathroom or kitchen could turn out not so dreamy after all. A quick look at most of the design features and it is easy to see that a little more forethought could go a long way. The pictures below have the comments embedded. To see the full newsletter and other articles go to the Lifemark website.

Picture of a bathroom where there is no reinforcement in the walls, a toilet pan positioned where no future grab rail could be placed, and a poorly accessible shower because it is placed over the bath and with no grab rail to help get in and out for everyone's safety.

 

The bathroom above has a shower over the bath, the mirror is placed for a tall person, and the peninsula pan means there is no wall on which to place a grab rail if needed. (However, an over the toilet frame could work). The kitchen below has ineffective lighting, difficult to reach high cupboards, difficult to grab knobs and handles, and an unlit work area. You can also access this item on Lifemak’s Facebook page.

 

Picture of a kitchen showing some features that do not meet the principles of universal design: ineffective lighting, difficult to reach cupboards, difficult to grab knobs and handles, and dark corners.

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Apartment Guidelines from Victoria

front cover of the guidelines showing a view through an apartment room through the window to the outdoorsReference to apartment accessibility is the last item in the list of design considerations in this latest guide from Victoria. It is frustrating that such documents go through all the design considerations and then put accessibility at the end. The document takes the familiar route through the design considerations starting with siting. As a case in point, siting may well impact on accessibility. Still a way to go in terms of thinking inclusion first and building designs around that. Nevertheless, this is another well laid out document taking the reader through all the necessary steps. The document can be accessed through the landing page of the government website or you can download the document directly.  

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Liveable Homes Guide from WA

Three photos in one block showing a bathroom, a bedroom and a kitchenThe hiatus in progress towards rolling out basic access features in all new homes has spawned a series of guides by different government authorities in attempts to encourage progress. The West Australian guide to liveable homes is yet another publication basically promoting the same design features as the Livable Housing Design Guidelines that were agreed by COAG and the housing and construction industry back in 2010.

This web resource has CAD images, house plans, checklists, a photo gallery, technical specifications, and other useful links. The floor plans are particularly useful as they cover differing frontage widths from 7.5m to 17m lots. The checklists have essential criteria and desirable criteria listed.  You can also download the full manual in one document.

You can find other housing design guidelines under the built environment tab in the left hand menu of this website.

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