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Image Credit: Revell Landscaping

For many Australians, a custom home design is not a luxury, but a necessity. Recognising the high demand for specialised housing, the Independent Builders Network is helping local builders deliver homes that can easily adapt to suit the unique lifestyle needs of occupants both now and in the future.

Formed in 2008, the Independent Builders Network (IBN) helps smaller builders compete with mass-marketed volume builders on a national scale by providing them with purchasing power and intellectual property while protecting their independence and brand ethos. As a result, members can more easily maintain direct client interaction and quality control on site. In conversation with Melbourne Home Design + Living, CFO Steven Rowarth explains how the IBN is helping its members engage with the Adaptable Living Homes market to make a comfortable and enjoyable home life possible and sustainable for all Australians.

What is the Adaptable Living Homes market and how was it conceived?
SR: The Independent Builders Network was introduced to the market through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and decided to get involved due to many common interests, primarily that we have many builders spread from Townsville to Tasmania who already specialise in works other than standard housing. Many IBN builder members have built their business around custom housing, which is perfect for this market.

After viewing current building practises and recognising the need to change them to reflect the

After viewing current building practises and recognising the need to change them to reflect the ever-changing characteristics of buyers, we decided to create a housing product that would cater for the disabled, ageing, growing family, or injured by future-proofing the design so that the home is ready for any changes that life throws our way.

What principles inform the design of Adaptable Living Homes?
The Adaptable Living Homes market follows the Livable Housing Australia guidelines, which are about making homes easier to access, navigate

through and live in. By doing this as part of the building process we are providing an easier and more cost-effective way to adapt to changes in life and change your home to suit, as opposed to changing the design afterwards, which can be a very costly experience.

What are the typical ways a family’s lifestyle can change over time?
Adaptable Living Homes designs have comfort, safety and ease of access as core design features. These features make it easier for parents to manoeuvre prams and carry the shopping into the house; allow people with a disability or temporary injury can move around more easily; and create a more spacious environment for the ageing.

Are Adaptable Living Homes customisable?
The flexibility of designs available for Adaptable Living Homes is quite extensive, to the point where the majority of the standard IBN range can be modified to suit the unique needs of the occupants.

While it is important to emphasise that the majority of our designs can be modified, we have also developed a range of designs that have already been tailored to suit Adaptable Living Homes principles, including two, three and four bedroom homes, and acreage properties.

Is there any financial assistance available for those looking to build an Adaptable Living Home?
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) can assist participants to live independently by providing support that builds their capacity to live independently in the community through improving their living skills and management of money and their household; social and communication skills; and behavioural management. The scheme also assists with home modifications to the participant’s own home or private rental property, and on a case-by-case basis in social housing.

The NDIS may also contribute to the cost of accommodation in situations where the participant has a need for specialised housing due to their disability.

Where can further information be found?
The IBN will provide training and insight to its members on Adaptable Living Homes, and also produce a range of plans accommodating this shift in building practise. To find out more about Adaptable Living Homes please contact 1300 IBN NET (1300 426 638) or enquiries@independentbuilders.com.au

Images courtesy of the
Independent Builders Network

What are some key features in an Adaptable
Living Homes design?

– A path of travel from the street entrance and/or parking area to the dwelling entrance that is safe, continuous, level and step-free

– At least one entrance into the dwelling that is level and step-free

– Internal doors and corridors that facilitate comfortable and unimpeded movement between spaces

– A toilet on the ground level (or entry level) that provides easy access

– Reinforced walls around the toilet, shower and bath to support the safe installation of grab rails down the track

– Stairways that are designed to reduce the likelihood of injury and enable future adaption

– A bathroom that contains a hobless shower recess