23 Jan 2015

Design for life

From New Zealand Society, 2:20 pm on 23 January 2015

Graeme and Sandy

“It’s about smart design.”

– Graeme Sinclair 

A campaign’s being launched to get Kiwis to think about their future when they’re building or renovating a house. Lifemark is a certification system originally for people with disabilities, but developer CCS Disability Action says now all New Zealanders should be using Lifemark to future-proof homes to suit their changing needs.

Television fishing Guru Graeme Sinclair is one man who has already taken the plunge. These days he mostly uses a wheelchair after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 20 years ago. “Which I didn’t bloody want by the way”, he points out. But he says he discovered Lifemark and they “fell in love”. Graeme’s used Lifemark’s guidelines, while renovating and extended a recently bought home.

The day I meet the Sinclairs at their house, Graeme is delighted to show me how easily he can get around through the wider doorways and generous corridors. He and wife Sandy even pose comfortably in their double shower complete with special seat and hand rails.

Geoff Penrose Graeme Sinclair in his man cave with his dog

Geoff Penrose from Lifemark says the point is anyone can use the same principles in  their own houses to prepare for alteration sometime in the future.

Lifemark capGeoff says it may cost an extra 1000 dollars today, but it could save tens of thousands in the future. ”Simple things like putting in nogs in a wall to allow for safety handles can make a big difference.” He says studies show retrofitting at a later stage can cost between 10 and 22 times more than the original investment. Over 1500 homes in New Zealand already have a Lifemark certificate.