Accessible housing: costs and gains

A man in a bright yellow T shirt is painting and archway in a wall inside a home. The wall is grey and there are tools on the floor.The need for all new homes to have basic universal design features will continue to increase as the population ages. The costs of modifying and renovating homes to facilitate ageing in place are borne by both governments (that is, taxpayers) and homeowners. However, we are yet to have a policy to make these cost-efficient features mandatory in mass market housing. Evaluating the costs and gains of modifying homes is the subject of a new article from Europe, Improved Housing Accessibility for Older People in Sweden and Germany: Short Term Cost and Long -Term Gains.

This is a technical paper showing the detail of the methodology, the results and a discussion section where the authors claim, “Even if the costs for the new policy of barrier removal are large it should be kept in mind that these are one-time costs, while costs for home services are likely to be repeated over time and potentially increase with deteriorating health.” They add that the initial cost for the new policy would have paid off after one year in Sweden and two and a half years in Germany. It would be interesting to know if similar modelling has been done in Australia. The costs could be offset, of course, over time, by introducing accessible housing in all new housing stock where modifications were few or unnecessary. We build at least 200,000 homes a year – that’s 2 million over ten years.

This article by Slaug, Chiatti, Oswald, Kaspar and Schmidt was originally downloaded from ResearchGate.