Putting a value on universal design

A Westpac bank branch in NSW country town. It is a large old two storey house with steps to the entranceBuilding regulations stipulate certain access requirements, but what do people value most and will they be high cost, particularly in retrofits? Using Stated Preferences analysis and cost-benefit data, researchers found that some features suited a wide group, while others suited only a few. The question then is, if the feature for the few costs the most, should it be included or ignored in a retrofit? 

The authors commented that by, “using the projects results and calculation tool in prioritising, more emphasis will be put on measures that improve the buildings’ quality for a wide audience. Such measures may easily be forgotten if one only focusses on the most obvious deficits.” Among high benefit features, were good lighting, visual and tactile markings, and stair handrails.

An interesting study that reveals the preferences of building users and the value they place on certain features and the related costs. This can be compared with features set down in access standards where the value for users is not assessed, nor the costs.

The title of the article is, Upgrading Existing Buildings to Universal Design. What Cost-Benefit Analyses Can Tell Us.  It is open source from IOS Press.