Pact on NZ housing plan

A supply and confidence agreement between the National and Maori parties means all new New Zealand housing stock will better cater for the elderly and disabled.

The move will make it easier for homes to be adapted to meet the needs of the disabled and elderly, by taking into consideration everything from the width of doorways and staircases and the height of electrical outlets, to the positioning of dwangs from which handrails could be fixed.

Acceptable disability access standards will also be mandatory where practicable and appropriate, and an insulation instalment for energy efficiency will also apply.

The scheme will be supervised by Lifetime Design, an independent, not-for-profit organisation established by CCS Disability Action in 2006, which advocates for design standards to improve the state of New Zealand housing.

CCS Disability Action is the main shareholder of Lifemark Ltd, the business that administers the Lifemark seal of approval.

Lifemark Ltd does not build, sell or design homes. Rather it provides design ideas and works closely with architects, designers, retirement village operators, developers and homeowners to help form inclusive, accessible and adaptable designs.

Kim Willetts, of Oamaru, who became the CCS president in November after previously representing the Southern region, was thrilled the initiative was going ahead.

"It's a fantastic gain for the community; to have a housing stock that can change easily makes sense," she said.

"It's a cost-effective, forward-thinking, simple, common-sense approach at the building end.

"If you've built on a Lifetime Design and you have to adapt your house, everything is already there."

The initiative is supported by a host of associations and groups, ranging from Grey Power and the Returned and Services Association to the Registered Master Builders Federation and the Ministry of Social Development.

The Lifetime Design standards were adapted from those developed by the UK's Joseph Rowntree Foundation in the 1980s.


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