Livable Housing Handbook

The Livable Housing Design Standard applies to all new Class 1a and Class 2 buildings. Class 1a buildings are detached houses, row houses, terraces, townhouses and villa units. Class 2 buildings are apartment buildings and the design requirements apply inside the apartment. Public access requirements cover the public areas. To aid practitioners, the Australian Building Codes Board has produced a Livable Housing Handbook.

The Livable Housing Design Standard sets out minimum requirements for mainstream dwellings.

Front cover of the Livable Housing Design Standard showing a single storey home with garage.

The title, ‘Livable Housing Design’ comes from Livable Housing Australia’s voluntary guidelines. The features in these guidelines form the basis of the mandatory requirements, which are similar to Livable Housing Australia’s ‘silver level’.

The Livable Housing Design Handbook aims to help practitioners understand the relevant sections of the building code. These are Part G7 of NCC Volume One, Part H8 of NCC Volume Two, and the ABCB Standard for Livable Housing Design.

The Handbook covers design issues in generic terms and does not provide specific compliance advice. It aims to assist practitioners develop solutions to comply with the NCC requirements.

The intent of livable housing design is “to ensure that housing is designed to meet the needs of the community, including older people and those with a mobility-related disability.”

Front cover of Livable Housing Design Handbook.

The appendices have examples of bathroom layouts and a guide for meeting compliance with the NCC.

Going beyond the Livable Housing standard

The Australian Building Codes Board has also produced a guide for going beyond the minimum standard. The voluntary standard is generally based on Livable Housing Australia’s “Gold level”. These features provide a greater level of livability across the lifespan for more people, and go beyond the “silver level”. Consequently, exceeding the minimum mandatory requirements will still achieve compliance.

This additional set of non-mandatory technical provisions will better meet the needs of the community. They are similar to the Gold level in the original voluntary Livable Housing Design Guidelines.

Front cover of Livable Housing Design Beyond Minimum Standards guide

Australian homes are some of the largest in the world and the features in the voluntary standard should not be difficult to achieve.

Extensions and major renovations to existing homes will be based on state or territory requirements to comply with the standard. For example, if the works require a council development application.

Online learning – Livable Housing Design

CUDA has acquired the licence from the Australian Building Codes Board to run their course on Livable Housing Design Standard. The course is based on the Handbook and the Standard. This is a technical course for home-building professionals. Find out more about this course.

The long road to Livable Housing

And the journey isn’t over yet. While the Livable Housing Standard is now in the national code, it is up to each state and territory to implement it. Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, ACT and Northern Territory have agreed to implementation. South Australia has come late to the party but is now working on an implementation strategy.

Australian Network for Universal Housing Design (ANUHD) has been leading the charge for the reforms for twenty years. They believe that Western Australia could also sign up to implement the standard eventually. However, as of September 2023, NSW remains uncommitted. The livable housing story of citizen advocacy is documented in a conference paper.

Universally designed dream home

Not your average home. This one goes beyond even enhanced standards in the Livable Housing Design Standard. The video is from O’Shea and Sons Builders and shows what can be done with creative thinking. While this is a top-end of the market home, all the features are possible in mainstream homes. As Nick O’Shea says, “… an absolutely amazing home where functionality and style means absolute beauty.”

Filming by Unveil Media.

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