Making Homes Adaptable Saves Money
A campaign to encourage Kiwis to think about the future when building or renovating their home; ensuring homes are easy
to use, adaptable, accessible and safe to visit and live in, launches this Wednesday 3 December.
Not-for-profit Lifemark, established by CCS Disability Action (formerly the Crippled Children’s Society) is advising
Kiwis to build homes that will work for them throughout their whole lifetime and won’t need costly adaptations to
accommodate different ages and abilities.
Lifemark uses a 3, 4 or 5 star rating to identify how liveable and easy to use the home is. The ratings are awarded
based on over 30 guidelines from the international best practice of Universal Design including: height of power points
and switches, width of passages and doorways to ensure they are easy to move through for someone with a disability and
have the added benefit of being easier to navigate with a pram, bags of shopping, luggage etc.
“Globally there is a move to focus more attention on developing home design features that work for everyone, all the
time. It’s about using space sensibly and when you understand this, you will wonder why all homes aren’t built this way.
“Thinking ahead and designing with the future in mind saves money in the long run. The investment is often less than
$1,000 when you are in the design stage of building and or renovating and can save tens of thousands of dollars in
retrospective adaptations in the future to accommodate an unexpected disability or to make the house safer as you age.
“Studies show retrofitting at a later stage can cost between 10 and 22 times more than the original investment. Just
simple things like including nogs in the wall in bathrooms for safety handles can make a big difference to our ability
to stay living safely, for longer in our own homes,” says Geoff Penrose, General Manager – Lifemark.
Geoff Penrose points out that a Lifemark rating can also act as an extra seal of approval for home buyers looking for a
property that will stand the test of time. Lifemark partners with New Zealand’s leading architects, and residential
building companies who are trained and accredited to submit their plans for a Lifemark rating.
Lifemark ambassador and host of well-known TV fishing show Gone Fishin’, Graeme Sinclair who uses a wheelchair, chose to
build a Lifemark certified home when he and wife Sandee were looking to renovate their home in 2012
“We wanted to have a home that I could easily navigate around both indoors and outdoors, without needing other people to
assist. This home has given me my independence without comprising on design. Utilising the Universal Design principles
means my house doesn’t just work well for me it works well for everyone, young and old, disabled and able-bodied.
“Getting your architect and builder to build a Lifemark Certified property makes sense and it will save you money in the
future,” says Graeme Sinclair.
Over 1500 homes in New Zealand have a Lifemark certification. Around 2.6% of all residential building consents issued in
2013 were Lifemark rated, the majority in the retirement sector where there is a greater awareness of the value of these
standards in creating a safe environment.
Lifemark would like to see all homes include these simple and smart features and are encouraging all home buyers to gain
more knowledge on spatial and safe design, and to start asking their builders and designers to include them. A new TV ad
is under development and will air on TV3 and other channels from April 2015, as part of a campaign to highlight the
benefits of building a Lifemark Certified home for all Kiwis.