When homeowners get used to their home being substandard, and even unsafe, they are reluctant to do anything about it. There are several reasons for this as discussed in the The Good Home Dialogue from the UK. Homeowners take pride in their homes regardless of their condition. They solve the issues with work-arounds which they just get used to. In Australia, these findings provide insights into why older people are resistant to home modifications.
The Good Home Dialogue executive summary is interesting reading. It tells the story of homeowners and renters and their relationship to their home. The research project asked people with low incomes living in poor quality homes what they thought would help.
Although half the participants expressed problems, they remained satisfied with their home. This is because they thought work-arounds were normal. Others preferred not to think about it or didn’t know where to start to make things better.
Participants understood the connection between health and quality of their home. However, this was not enough to motivate them to seek improvements. In the UK around half of ‘non-decent’ homes are lived in by someone over 55 years.
The barriers to making improvements were largely due to people getting used to the conditions. As homeowners they valued their home for what it means to them. And that meant leaving things as they are unless there was a critical need. Finding and working with reputable tradespeople was a common theme. This did not encourage those who felt they lacked the capability to commission work. Overall, there was a sense of feeling overwhelmed by the issues, especially renters.
The housing supply system in the UK is not the same as in Australia. However, there are useful insights as to why people are reticent to make changes to their homes. This is especially the case for older people and people with disability who would likely benefit most.
The document is easy to read and well set out with recommendations for the Good Home Inquiry at the the end. The first of which is finding ways to motivate people to take action. The last point is improving access to a pool of trusted tradespeople. Funding, regulation and information are the basis of other recommendations.
The Centre for Ageing Better webpage has more detail about the Good Home Inquiry and the full report of the research. The key issue in the UK is that more than 4 million older people live in homes that threaten their health.
There are more housing reports on the Centre for Ageing Better website, including accessibility and adaptations.