Universal Design in Housing: Builders are doing it

A blank checklist with tick boxes yet to be filled in. Builders are doing it - doing some of the features.Builders are beginning to incorporate some basic universal design features in new home designs. An audit of 10 of the largest home builders in Australia revealed some interesting results. But it is still a hit and miss affair – the features are not consistently applied. So builders are doing it – just some of it and so it is not yet universal design in housing. 

The Summer Foundation and University of Melbourne carried out the research. Their preliminary findings show that many of the new homes meet several criteria of the Livable Housing Design Guidelines. That means it can’t be too hard or too costly as the housing industry claims. However, these features are probably by default rather than design.

Three key features that would make a home accessible are absent from all designs. These are wider doorways, circulation space in front of the toilet pan, and a shower on the ground level. Those three features are the ones that cost the most to modify later. 

The short report has a chart comparing the accessible features across the 10 builders. The report concludes that housing to suit people with mobility impairments does not compromise the design for others. The title of the report is, Preliminary Findings: Audit of Accessible Features in New Build House Plans.

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