CQU built environment expert welcomes new accessibility provisions for new homes

12 May 2023

With Global Accessibility Awareness Day on 18 May, one CQUniversity building expert has welcomed the implementation of the new national building code which includes new requirements for improving accessibility for new homes.

Liveable housing design provisions have been built into the National Construction Code (NCC) and will be operational in Queensland, Northern Territory, the ACT and Victoria from 1 October this year, with Tasmania and South Australia to adopt the changes in October 2024, a move CQU Senior Lecturer for Built Environment Peter Lawrence says is a positive initiative.

“With a focus towards addressing low level disability needs within a home, there are benefits for everyone,” he said.

Some of the provisions to be implemented in the design and construction of new homes, includes specifying a minimum width for doors to 870mm, corridors to 1000mm, and ensuring a landing at the primary access be a minimum of 1200mm square.

Other changes include wall reinforcement to bathrooms and toilets for future grabrail installation and a focus towards reducing floor height differences through door thresholds to 5mm maximum, by using ramping solutions to lower the current risk of trip hazards.

The changes aim to improve access and mobility for people living with a disability, seniors, people with short to long term injuries and providing extra safety for families with children.

“People are living longer and prefer to remain in their home, rather than move to a care home facility,” Mr Lawrence said. “By improving the design, flexibility can be built into homes to cater for life changes due to ageing, families caring for both young and elderly dependents, movement and accessibility for people using wheely walkers, crutches or dealing with balance and weight issues.”

“Accidents will still occur at home, but these measures can reduce those risks.”

He said while the provisions may be questioned by unencumbered people, he hoped they would eventually embrace the changes as beneficial for the community.

“There’s always resistance to change, like there were with the extra cost for airbag protection in cars until the device was experienced. These measures will enhance homes,” he said.

“Of course, there are costs associated with the changes. The question is do the structural work while the home is being built or deal with a disruptive home life and time whilst the retrofitting occurs.

“I see it as a positive – a social good, if people are open to it.”

To learn more about the National Construction Code visit https://ncc.abcb.gov.au/

For more information on Global Accessibility Awareness Day visit https://accessibility.day/