For New Zealand’s builders and developers, this means taking the responsibility to set new standards in accessible housing that the Lifemark provides.
Even though consumer demand for the Lifemark may not yet be strong, it is what an ageing population could be looking for. They will want a house that has an independent seal of approval showing them, and their potential buyers, that this home will work for them, whoever they are, throughout their life.
There are already some industry leaders who have grasped the opportunities available in taking on the Lifemark. For example, Maxim in Christchurch is the first developer/builder in Canterbury to seek the Lifemark, is associating its brand not just with quality, but a commitment to offering the option of lifelong accessible housing.
Indeed, there are multiple factors to consider for any builder or developer interested in the Lifemark. There is a lot to offer investors, including major savings on future maintenance and renovation costs and — whether leasing or selling — a much broader market.
Summerset Retirement Villages, the first retirement home company in New Zealand to receive the Lifemark, saw the benefits in gaining first-user advantage and associating its brand with not only best practice, but “next practice”.
And Summerset is already experiencing these benefits, as is evident in interviews with their Hastings residents who confirmed that the lifetime design features influenced their decision to choose Summerset over other homes.
So consumers are becoming more discerning in what they’re looking for in their homes. What’s more, it is inevitable that demand for lifetime design will continue to grow as our population ages and our needs change.
While we may not think twice about stepping into our shower right now, in 10 to 20 years’ time the risk of slipping may be way too high.
Clearly, as the needs and expectations of people change and grow, we must, as an industry, be informing them about the Lifemark — that this is what they should be asking for.
Finally, because lifetime design features are not expensive to implement and because they last, Lifemark is the socially and environmentally sustainable solution — houses that work for people for a lifetime.