The effect of anticipatory modification on design

Evaluating housing adaptation grant programs for people with disabilities as drivers of innovation.

Andrew Martel. Modified stairs.

One of the key housing related outcomes of the upcoming National Insurance Disability Scheme (NDIS) is a commitment to funding ‘aids and equipment and home modifications’ for people who qualify for the scheme. This is an aspect of the central premise of the NDIS that a majority of participants should be housed in the general, private housing market. As set out in the NDIS housing discussion paper ‘Optimising the user cost of capital for housing', “Modifications can include design and subsequent changes to the home including installation of equipment or changes to building structures, fixtures or fittings to enable participants to live as independently as possible or safely at home.” (NDIS, 2014:7)

Similar schemes operate in several countries internationally, and this project proposes to evaluate three current programs, in Sweden, the UK, and Ireland. Interviews will be conducted in Stockholm, London and Dublin with funding agencies (typically National Government agencies), scheme providers (typically Local Government Municipalities), disabled support not-for-profit providers and construction firms involved in the modification work. The research will investigate the relationship between existing housing design and innovation in anticipating future modifications.

The international field work will generate a taxonomy of solutions, an index of particular design modifications generated by the grant programs that have had an impact on the way the housing industry designs and builds. The Australian part of the project  will see whether the various State based schemes have utilised similar solutions or not, and investigate the potential for the NDIS program to stimulate innovation in Australian housing design.

This is conceptually different to examining design considerations like universal design principles, which have been extensively studied and researched, with the focus instead on the potential role of home modification schemes in stimulating innovation on housing production.

Project details

Research Partner

Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning and Graham Treloar Fellowship

Chief Investigator and Contact

Dr Andrew Martel