A wheelchair in front of a staircase in a house. Disability concept

Claims that changes to accessible housing standards in Queensland will result in added costs to the industry has been disputed by Spinal Life Australia CEO Mark Townend.

Speaking to F2L, Townend questioned the $20,000 extra costs to property owners and industry closures that would follow implementation of the standards, made by the building industry, requesting the Queensland Government delay the changes that take effect on October 1, 2023.

The mandatory standards were introduced to the National Construction Code in May. It means all new homes will be built to the silver level of Livable Housing Australia accessibility standards. This includes wider internal hallways, more space in toilets and one step-free entry to the home, to easily accommodate a wheelchair or walking frame.

“People with disability, along with a growing ageing population, will most likely need a walker or wheelchair at some point and it makes good economic sense to get these changes done at the time of building,” Townend said. 

He understands while there has been stakeholder meetings, he is not aware of any changes to the timeline. F2L has contacted Queensland Housing Minister Mick de Brenni for comment.

“What is happening now is that the taxpayer is funding the NDIS for people making these home improvements. Ultimately it is the end user who pays, not the builder. It will force builders to become more efficient, and prices will come down.”

According to Townend some builders are already building to this accessibility standard with large companies such as Metricon indicating they have updated their house plans to adopt these changes.