One of the great things about Homestar™ is that it is a holistic rating system. The main focus is on energy efficiency and sustainability, but it also rewards homes that are safe, healthy and easy to use.
Inclusive design (EHC-10) awards up to 3 points for designs which are safe, accessible and which meet the needs of our aging population, as well as those with limited abilities. Our project has scored the full 3 points by aiming for a 5 star lifemark™ certification. Lifemark™ is a separate and independent rating system focusing wholly on inclusive design.
Our design was well suited to Lifemark™ already, but there were a few additions and adjustments which we made to gain 5 stars. Below we list a few of these:
Level threshold. To achieve a level access into the home we utislised our Garage, as this is on the same level as the main house. A level access is important for those in wheelchairs or at risk of tripping on a step.
Wheelchair access. As well as having eveything on one level, the Kitchen, Bathroom and Master Bedroom have been sized to ensure someone in a wheelchair can easily and independently navigate.
Doors. All of the doors in the house are a minimum of 800mm wide, but to make them more accessible to those in wheelchairs, we have ensured that there is min 300mm return wall to the side of the door.
Taps and switches. All taps and window and door handles are levers so as to be more easily operated. Light switches are touch pads, as well as some being on automatic sensors.
Grip bars. The bathrooms had some extra wall framing installed so that grip bars can be installed next to the toilets if required in the future.
Door widths. We originally specified standard 810mm wide doors, but upgraded to 860mm wide doors throughout the home to make it easier to get around.
In some ways we were limited by the fact that our project is a renovation – for example our hallway width is fixed – but we feel we have done well to provide a comfortable and usable home. Lifemark is a great tool to ensure our design is suited to New Zealand’s aging population and will make a great “forever home” for the family. As the owners age their home will adapt to meet their changing needs.