Persons with disabilities face challenges daily, even when they’re at home. That’s because most modern homes aren’t specifically designed to meet their needs. In Australia, the government commits to boosting the supply of specialist disability accommodation or SDA by offering investors huge incentives to build such houses.
But before you invest in SDA, make sure you’re familiar with the design standards for such dwellings. Read on to learn several tips on how to design homes for PWDs.
1. Follow the SDA Design Standard
The SDA Design Standard provides clarity for the design requirements of SDA builds. During the planning phase of building an SDA property, it’s crucial to consider which SDA design category your property will be to get the necessary certifications.
The four design categories for specialist disability accommodations are:
- Improved liveability: SDAs should boost liveability by incorporating a reasonable level of physical access. They must also have an enhanced provision for those with sensory, cognitive or intellectual impairment.
- Fully accessible: Fully accessible homes incorporate a high level of physical access and other necessary provisions for people with a significant degree of physical disability.
- Robust: Like the previous classification, the ‘robust’ category incorporates a high level of physical access provision. But robust homes are also developed to be resilient, reducing the need for reactive property maintenance.
- High physical support: Homes in this category have a high level of physical access provision for people who require extremely high levels of support.
2. Decide on a Design Category as Early as Possible
When you decide on a design category early, you can proceed to the next steps faster. You can have your SDA property certified at two stages:
- Provisional stage: This stage is when you submit the design for approval.
- Final-as-built stage: Certification in this stage is mandatory for SDA enrolment with the National Disability Insurance Agence (NDIA).
This two-step certification is advantageous as it gives your builders and developers (and yourself) assurance that the dwelling in construction is in line with the SDA Design Standard. Therefore, it will get approval for use by SDA participants, and you will likely reap the government incentives and the stable rental income.
3. Design With Accessibility in Mind
Besides the four design categories, the NDIA doesn’t provide specific technical advice. The SDA assessors can interpret the SDA Design Standard to the best of their professional ability. So to make sure your dwelling will be certified, design with accessibility in mind. That means going into every detail and checking whether it supports accessibility. For instance, ask your architect whether the floor material is skid-proof or slip-resistant, as people in wheelchairs need such flooring. The worktops and shelving in the kitchen should also have adjustable heights to make them easy to use whether the homeowner is in a standing or sitting position.
In addition, work with a builder or a design & engineering services company that will let you fully visualise your build before the certification stages. That way, you know whether you and your architect or designer still need to tweak design elements.
4. Include Assistive Technology
Over the past decade, there has been a revolution in smart home technology. While it originally targets the tech-loving market, it’s also transformative for anyone with a physical disability or challenge. So when building an SDA, it makes sense to invest in assistive technology to make the house truly accessible for the target occupants.
Some assistive devices you can consider are smart speakers and voice-controlled assistants. You should also incorporate smart home technology, such as smart thermostats. Such gadgets can make everyday tasks easier and hands-free. For the deaf community, technology that translates audible notifications into visual or tactile alerts is critical. For instance, a smoke detector with strobe light is a good option.
With all these tips, you’ll be a few steps closer to building properties that won’t only give you high returns but also help PWDs live better. It’s a win-win for everyone.
About the Author:
Angelina Miles a specialist in NDIS and SDA Loans. I have been writing about these topics for the last five years. My work has been published in several magazines and websites. I have helped people get the most out of their NDIS And SDA Loans.