New housing code hailed
A VOLUNTARY building code will ensure new homes include wider doorways, ground level bathrooms and entry level access to improve living standards for people of all ages, including the disabled.
The Cradle to Grave Housing guidelines, which will also apply to renovations, will mean voluntary industry agreements under Universal Housing Design Standards (UHDG) will add an estimated $2000 to $3000 on average to each home.
The new standards will include wider doorways, ground level bathrooms and entry level access which will help remove traditional hazards such as falls and climbing of stairs, which are recognised as danger areas for toddlers and older residents.
John Bright, from John Bright & Associates Architects in Gladstone, said he strongly supported a philosophy that housing design should be user friendly and anticipate the changing lifecycle needs of residents.
“The UHDG design concepts are not revolutionary, but they're effective, commonsense strategies for improving access, safety and liveability within the home,” Mr Bright said.
“Proposed UHDG implementation, as outlined in the National Dialogue Strategic Plan, seems sensible, well targeted, cost effective and achievable. I find it reassuring, in a world that seems increasingly fascinated by ‘spin' and ‘hyperbole', that long-term, practical initiatives such as the UHDG are being promoted by our politicians and community leaders.”
In Australia, according to an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, more than 66,800 elderly people are taken to hospital in a typical year after suffering a fall, with research showing women at far greater risk.
Gladstone aged pensioners Heather Muldoon and Felly Welfare believe the codes should be compulsory for every new home.
“The wider hallways and doorways will reduce blind spots and blind corners for people in walking frames and wheelchairs,” Ms Muldoon said.
“Every bathroom in hotels and motels should get rid of the shower over the bathtub,” Ms Welfare said.
“It's lethal for people to trip over and when you have bad knees, you can't get in. It will make showering hassle free.”
“You're always in fear of falling in some places that you go to,” Ms Muldoon said.