Geoff Penrose

Altering Housing DNA– the Lifemark story

Presenter: Geoff Penrose, General Manger, Lifemark

Oral Presentation

Universally Designed (UD) homes are admired in the literature, yet without regulation very few developments actually embrace UD and instead continue to build the “old fashioned” way.  The NZ building Act has no provision for UD and the even the access standards that were released in 2001 excluded residential housing. Under this scenario, Organisation name was established in 2006 to alter the way housing was built and encourage developments to voluntarily incorporate accessible and universal design standards.

This paper presents key initiatives that are breaking down traditional building typologies and supporting the inclusion of UD features in new homes across New Zealand.  The results are impressive. The largest private sector developer is now selling housing developments where 50% of all dwellings meet a certified UD standard; 2 of the largest retirement operators design all of their dwellings to a certified UD standard and one operator even had every village audited against UD requirements, including those villages built in the 1990’s.

The largest social landlord has reviewed all of their new house designs against UD standards, the second largest social landlord has committed to make 100% of all new houses UD certified and compliant. Three of the top 10 Group home builders incorporate UD as part of their plan range and one is even building all of their new show homes to a UD standard over the next 12 months. In one region, where UD incentives are offered, over 60% of all new 2 storey dwelling incorporate a lift in their design as part of the UD approach to housing. There are similar stories with products that go through an approval process and are positioned to make UD easy to implement in the renovation market as well.

This paper explains how these changes are occurring, what innovative approaches were used and what key success factors assist with this transformation.