A Case Study for Accessible Home Design
by www.lifemark.co.nz - Lifemark
When a rugby accident left Neil Cudby paraplegic in 1990 it was the beginning of a new life for the then 18-year-old.
Today, Neil has designed and built his own home in Papamoa in Bay of Plenty as well as two homes for Housing New Zealand, all specially designed to make it easier to navigate inside in a wheelchair.
“It is society that disables us, not the disability, says Neil.
After struggling to find a house to suit him (and being forced to shower outside for a year) Neil knew there had to be better options and set about researching and planning how homes in New Zealand could be improved.
“My background in project management, along with my own circumstances, sparked my interest in developing houses for people with mobility issues.”
Having always enjoyed building, Neil studied for a Bachelor of Technology at Massey University in Palmerston North.
“My disability helps as I have good spatial awareness and an idea of where you need space and where you don’t.”
Designing accessible houses means freedom for those that live in them. For Neil, it’s the difference between taking up to four hours to get out of bed and get ready, and taking half the time – a time saving that can be put into life outside the front gate.
“My accessible house means I don’t need to ask for assistance and it’s enabled me to become more independent,” says Neil.
“It’s about building an environment where you can be independent but where you can also be an active part of the community.”
Neil initially learnt about Lifemark, an independent seal of approval for accessible home design, through training courses and approached Lifetime Design.
He says, “If Lifemark enables me to become more aware of improving accessibility, I can construct homes more effective for people with mobility issues.
“I believe Lifemark has set the benchmark for future-proofing homes in New Zealand. It means people like me, across the country, will be able to move more freely knowing they can confidently live anywhere that has a Lifemark seal of approval.”
Neil had two sets of house plans being assessed by Lifemark as of January 2010.
“If designers adopt Lifemark, New Zealand will eventually have more homes that are accessible to all, making it easier for people like me to contribute to a richer society,” he says.
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