Universal design in housing: is cost the real issue?

A spacious kitchen with white cabinetry. Is cost the real issue?
Image by Taylor’d Distinction

After twenty years of citizen advocacy for access features in new housing, the Australian Building Codes Board took action two years ago. They commissioned a cost benefit analysis which informed the Building Ministers’ decision to say yes, let’s do it. However, the housing industry still refuses to agree with the Building Ministers and continues to lobby for no changes. They’ve had a partial effect with their mantra “it will cost too much”. 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. 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 Australian Network for Universal Housing Design (ANUHD), which has led the advocacy work, has a one page simple version of why cost is not the real issue.  We also know that there will be no new products needed and no new techniques needed. Some builders and trades are using the techniques in retirement villages and in adaptable apartments. So what is the real issue? 

The Guardian also has a good article with a similar message. 

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