New Australian homes might need a total overhaul. Here’s why some states won’t change building codes

Should newly built houses be accessible to frail elderly people or people with disabilities?

Advocates for older people and people with disabilities certainly think so, and they are urging a meeting of housing ministers on Friday to push for an agreement on national accessible building standards.

But at least three states have already pulled out.

Karen Appleby of the Council on the Aging said three out of four people with mobility issues cannot find suitable accommodation.

“It can go from [something] as simple as having a slightly wider doorway, having space around a kitchen bench, having a stepless entry into the house.”

Last year changes were proposed to the National Building Code that would make it mandatory for new homes to have minimum accessibility standards, but New South Wales, Western Australia and Australia -Méridionale withdrew.

They argued that the changes would drive up house prices and place an undue burden on the construction industry.

Property Council of Australia chief executive Ken Morrison agrees the cost of introducing national building standards would outweigh the benefits.

He said that at a time when the construction industry is under pressure, it is more economical to build only certain houses to be accessible.

“The regulatory impact statement, which was written in 2021 against these changes, found that the costs outweighed the benefits by at least $4 billion over 10 years.”

Ken Morrison said at the very least the Property Council would like to see a delay in implementation.

Finding an accessible rental almost impossible

Jacob Darkin is looking for wheelchair accessible accommodation.(Provided: Jacob Darkin)

Jacob Darkin lives in a wheelchair-accessible rental building, but it’s being sold.

“I’m a little worried because I’ve just been told I have about 30 days, if this buyer comes along, to find a place to move in and I don’t really know where to go.”

He was a 21-year-old trader when he became disabled.

“I was in a food market in Penrith and I was with my girlfriend at the time, and I was just fooling around.”

He was trying out an acrobatic trick he had practiced.

“It was in 2019 when I broke my neck. I did a front flip and I have a spinal cord injury.

“I spent nine months in the hospital and learned to do everything again. I learned to dress myself and reintegrate into the community.”

He is looking for a new home, but every time he thinks he has found something, he is disappointed.

“Usually it says it’s accessible, but I’ll find it has a walk-in shower.”

Karen Appleby of the Council on Aging said a range of people need accessible housing.

“It’s not just for the elderly or the disabled. It’s for anyone who might have an accident in their lifetime, who might be ill and who still has to come into their home or visit someone else. ‘other.

“We’ve heard so many stories of families not being able to have relatives visit each other, they feel like that family member is being left out.”