Livable Housing Design Standard
Public consultation to include minimum accessibility standards for housing in the National Construction Code (NCC) 2022 took place between 6 July and 31 August 2020.
In April 2021, a majority of Building Ministers agreed to include minimum accessibility standards for residential housing and apartments in the NCC 2022.
This implements the 2009 National Dialogue on Universal Housing Design, which committed to 100 per cent uptake of accessible housing features in new houses by 2020. This commitment was supported by a broad group of key industry organisations, community advocates and governments.
What this means
The minimum accessibility standards for new houses will include these simple accessibility features:
- at least 1 step-free entrance door
- wider internal doors and corridors
- toilet on ground level (or entry level).
This change will make homes more accessible and our society more inclusive for people of all abilities.
Sensible exemptions for step-free entry requirements have been adopted for small and steep lots, and for the protection of the iconic ‘Queenslander’.
Why these standards matter
A lack of accessible housing comes at a significant cost in the form of:
- unnecessarily expensive home modifications to make homes more accessible
- longer stays in hospital and transition care (if applicable) if discharge is delayed due to inadequate accessibility features in the home
- the need for relocation to find more suitable accommodation
- an inability for friends and family to visit each other due to inadequate accessibility features in the home.
The accessibility design standards will meet the changing needs of all of us as we age, without the need for costly adaptations. The basic accessibility features will allow us to remain in our homes as we age.
Case studies on accessible housing
- Dr Beth O’Brien - Finding accessible housing is life changing
- Meriel Stanger - Lack of accessible housing for people with disability
- Mary - Future-proofing accessibility
Impact on new houses in Queensland
The impact of implementing the new Livable Housing Design Standard was considered in the Proposal to include minimum accessibility standards for housing in the National Construction Code - decision regulatory impact statement (PDF, 3.6MB).
This document confirmed that retrofitting homes to comply with the new standard can be expensive and stressful. The estimated average cost is around $18,821 for houses and $20,260 for apartments. Some changes, like increasing the width of a corridor in an apartment, may not be possible to make.
In contrast, the average cost to ensure a new home complies with the same standards can be as little as 1 per cent of the average building cost. The ABCB’s report, Accessible housing: Estimated cost impact of proposed changes to NCC, reported an average cost of between $2,914 and $4,385.
Not only is it possible to build a compliant new home at a reasonable cost, but doing so increases the stock of houses that can improve a person’s economic and social participation in society by making their life easier.
People who are affected by the lack of suitable housing with accessible features will be able to leave hospital when they ‘re ready, which reduces the need for care services. Additionally, they can live in their homes longer close to family and friends.
On 26 August 2022, Building Ministers agreed that NCC 2022 will be available from 1 October 2022 for people who want to follow the new standards voluntarily.
The standards will commence on 1 May 2023, with a transition period to 1 October 2023.
This transition period gives industry time to consider the implementation process. The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) and state jurisdictions will work with industry to develop a strategy to support the implementation process.
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- Last updated:
- 20 September 2022