Modifying homes early could save housing sector $60 million
The housing sector could save $60 million every year if developers looked more closely at the way properties are built to cater for aging and disabled people of all needs, according to new research.
A report from the Ministry of Social Development reveals that by using Lifemark quality standards when designing and building homes, costly retrofitting further down the track could be prevented.
The Ministry of Social Development and ACC spent $33 million on modifying the homes of disabled and elderly people last year.
If only ten percent of the people who were disabled from accidental injuries were living in Lifemark approved homes, ACC would make savings of $2 million each year according to Likemark Board chair Viv Maidaborn.
The Ministry of Social Development said that taxpayers, property developers, government and home owners would all benefit from implementing Lifemark standards.
Lifemark said if 67% of new homes implemented its standards, $60 million per year could be saved.
The system could be used as the residential building version of the Qualmark standards with which Tourism New Zealand aims to keep industry quality standards up to scratch.
“The Lifemark has emerged out of the consumer drive to prepare for an ageing population,” the Ministry of Social Development report said. “It is an example of social entrepreneurship creating change without imposing legislation.”
The Lifemark standards would be based on 33 points in a checklist of things that make a home more adaptable to people of all ages and all needs such as making doorways and passageways wider.
“The demand for disability-friendly housing is set to rise significantly over the next 30 years as the population ages,” Ms Maidaboon said. “The reality is that the design of New Zealand’s housing stock does not yet take into account this dramatic shift in demographics.”
Currently there are 45% of all older people suffering disabilities but it is estimated that only 50-55% of them live in homes that are modified safely to their needs.
“Disability rates increase with age and, in the future, we will have more people living with sensory impairments and mobility issues. There will be an ever-increasing need for housing that is inclusive, adaptable and accessible,” the Ministry of Social Development report said.