So we ran a survey to around 2000 industry professionals to get their feedback.
First, we stated one of the pertinent trends which is starting to have an impact on the industry.
Fact: The Silver Tsunami is upon us! By 2030, one quarter of the New Zealand population will be 65+ years of age.
Problem: The current design of New Zealand housing stock cannot accommodate the demands of an ageing population.
Solution: Lifetime Design provides a set of common sense design principles to assist designers to design houses which will allow people of all stages in life to live independently in their own home.
So, the above information (and the chance to win an iPad2) was all it took to initiate a huge response — and it soon became obvious that this is a trend that is grabbing the industry’s attention.
The responses started flooding in and we were very excited to digest the results.
Question 1: Have you heard of the Lifemark? 80% of respondents had never heard of the Lifemark. This was not a good start but, if we are honest, this didn’t really come as any surprise.
Around 70% of respondents were designing housing projects for the 50+ age group, whether it was a new home build or renovation. Respondents expect this number to increase in the years to come due to the rapidly ageing population and lack of housing stock to easily accommodate them as they age.
It seems that gone are the days of simply “what the client wants, the client gets.” There was a sense that these professionals feel it is their role to educate and recommend design solutions that their 50yrs+ clients should consider.
Some clients may feel insulted but, in fact, 85% of respondents are already including specific design features which will accommodate them as they age, because the clients are asking for it.
So the majority are already designing homes which already meet specific Lifemark standards, without even knowing it.
Respondents said they feel the Lifemark standards would be a beneficial design solution to engage with their clients at the planning stage. One respondent commented: “Most people are interested in safety, security and longevity, as well as the beauty of their asset. It’ll help them to think of their future, and maybe include things in their build that they might not have considered.”
One respondent suggested: “It would provide tangible third party evidence for decision making and consideration by both client and designer.” And others went on to say things such as:
• “I think this is an excellent concept.”
• “Sounds very sensible and timely.”
• “Future proofing is sadly lacking in today’s industry — great idea!”
And results also confirmed what we had already assumed — that a designer/builder promoting the Lifemark would give them the competitive edge in the market. Even though the respondents hadn’t heard of us before now, it was obvious from the free flowing comments throughout the survey that we have now got their attention.
So based on these results, what are we going to do about it? Why should specifers and builders consider the commercial benefits of using the Lifemark? After all, are they not just common sense design principles? This is a challenge our team regularly faces in the industry.
The Lifemark team will be working on a focused strategy within the industry to increase the awareness of the Lifemark and the design standards. It is obvious there are key influencers in the industry who perhaps require more education about the value of the Lifemark and what those commercial benefits to industry professionals are of using the Lifemark design standards in their projects.