After twenty years of citizen advocacy for access features in new housing, the Australian Building Codes Board commissioned a cost benefit analysis which informed the Building Ministers’ decision to say yes, let’s do it. But is cost the real issue? And are those costs real?
An article in The Fifth Estate discusses the way various facts and figures go unquestioned. Figures plucked from the air appear to carry more weight in NSW, SA and WA than actual evidence presented to the Building Ministers Meeting. Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, ACT, and NT are ready to roll with the new features. However they have delayed adoption due to industry lobbying. That will leave mass market developers with different rules in different states.
The title of the article is, States disagree on access features for new housing.
The Guardian also has a good article with a similar message.
But Gold is more cost effective
The independent assessments and research are:
- REVIEW OF THE ECONOMIC REPORT
The review identified four key issues that individually have a large impact on the benefit-cost ratios reported. Taken together, they totally reverse the economic credentials of the regulation.
- Please note: The issues raised in the analysis are highly technical. The researchers provided more concise executive summary to improve accessibility. If you have particular questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- SURVEY OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITY
This extra data aligns with the advice from the Office of Best Practice Regulation to include qualitative analysis in all Regulatory Impact Statements, particularly when important elements cannot be quantified or monetised.
- AUDIT OF ACCESSIBLE FEATURES
This study found that many accessibility features are already incorporated into the most popular house designs being built in Australia, but not in a systematic way. It also demonstrates that accessible features are basic elements of good house design for the general population, and indicates that the likely cost of including further accessible features to be fully consistent with the accessibility standards in new builds is very low.
- SUPPLEMENTARY REPORT
MDI and the Summer Foundation prepared further information for the ABCB on 6 October 2020 to substantiate their position that that governments should adopt Option 2, which would set minimum mandatory standards for accessible housing at the Gold (LHDG) standard.
- REVIEW OF THE ECONOMIC REPORT
Home Truths: Dispelling Myths
Across the globe, advocates for universal design in housing find themselves faced with the same myths. And these myths prevail in spite of hard evidence. AgeUK and Habinteg have put together a fact sheet, Home Truths – rebutting the 10 myths about building accessible housing. They challenge the ideas that it is too costly, difficult or undesirable. And also why the solution is not in building more age-segregated developments.
Note: In the UK, Part M4 (1) of the building code mandates some basic access features. There are two other sections; one is to include adaptability, and the other is to be wheelchair accessible. However, these are optional unless it is set down in the local government plan because there is a community need. Developers challenge these plans asserting that the local authority has failed to prove the need. This indicates that industry will continue to fight for what suits them rather than occupants of the home.