It's sensible to make those changes as you renovate or build now, rather than having to make them later.
(or Universal) design is about making homes that people can live in and
enjoy regardless of their age, mobility or stage of life.
means having a home that is adaptable if needs change due to having
children and the different stages they go through, children leaving
home, mobility and health changes, needing to simplify housekeeping and
staying in your home as you age.
Some basic principles of universal design include:
- having flat access to the main entrance
- having the main floor at entry level
the kitchen, bathroom and at least one sleeping area at entry level
(note: the sleeping area could also be used as a study or living area)
all walkways and doorways are wide enough for strollers, wheelchairs or
mobility scooters to easily pass through (an 800mm-wide doorway will
allow minimum clearance for wheelchairs of 760mm width)
- ensuring all rooms are large enough for residents to easily move around in
- doors opening outwards in small bathroom areas
- providing grab bars beside toilets
a wet area or 'European' shower (i.e. a shower that drains directly
through the floor with no door or 'lip’ that has to be stepped over)
- ensuring door handles are lever-style (which are easier to grip and open than door knobs)
- providing kitchen benches and other work/storage spaces at the appropriate height
- planning appliance heights to reduce bending or kneeling
- installing light switches by beds and a telephone outlet by the main bed
- ensuring garages and carports are large enough for wheelchair access
- having light switches, socket outlets and door handles at easily reached heights.
of the features of universal design can be built into any new home or
renovation, saving costly alterations further down the track.
alterations are required as needs and lifestyles change, they'll be
more cost-effective if they have been considered as part of the initial
Homes for adults
The needs of adults are quite
different to those of children. If you want to have other adults live
with you as friends or flatmates, they may need more independence and
privacy than children.
In particular, think about:
- will you need separate living areas?
- whether you have enough full-sized bedrooms for adults' needs
- whether you’ll have room(s) that can be used as office space if you decide to work from home.
you have a disability now, funding for housing modifications may be
available through the Ministry of Health. Look for ‘disability funded
services’ on the Ministry of Health website www.moh.govt.nz . If a disability is the result of an accident-related injury, talk to the Accident Compensation Corporation or see www.acc.co.nz
- Building or renovating? Understand your rights and obligations. Go to www.building.govt.nz for advice and guidelines on building regulation so you can make informed decisions about building work.