3 Aug 2016

Too few houses for ageing NZ population - charity

12:36 pm on 3 August 2016

New Zealand will need to build at least 8100 aged-friendly homes each year for the next 10 years to meet future demand, according to a housing charity.

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Photo: 123rf.com

Lifemark is part of the disability group CCS and works to make sure houses are well designed for people regardless of age or ability.

General manager Geoff Penrose has appealed for builders and architects - and the people who hire them - to recognise that a house can last for 50 or 100 years, and so needed to have its design future-proofed.

He said just 2 percent of the country's new housing stock was likely to be designed to cater for people with mobility or disability issues.

That ignored the fact people with different needs might live in the house in future and even the current owners might find their needs changing over time.

And with an ageing population, almost all houses would be affected by this problem.

"The number of builders and developers creating homes that better serve our ageing population is increasing, but it is still far too small," said Mr Penrose.

"Throughout New Zealand, Lifemark certified 644 homes in the last year out of a total of 27,132 that were consented. That's just over 3 per cent.

"The homes we certify have safe, level access and incorporate wider doorways, increased spaces, reachable power points and easy to use taps, window latches and light switches.

"That makes them safer and more liveable, which is great for all of us but particularly important as we age."

Mr Penrose said one in seven people will be aged over 65 by 2026.

More than 50 percent will have some form of disability, and many will be living in a household which is not designed to cater for them, which reduces living conditions and in some cases causes injury through accidents.

He said Lifemark-certified homes incorporated intelligent design features such as improved lighting, non-slip surfaces in wet areas, better designed stairs and window latches to prevent injuries from slips, trips and falls.

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