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sda design standards

NDIS Design Standards: Does Your SDA Need to be Certified?

Investing in the NDIS sector through specialist disability accommodation can raise many questions. Thankfully, the NDIS has made it easy to understand the requirements for building an SDA property through the SDA design standards.

Below, we answer the question of whether SDA housing needs to be certified and how you can ensure that your investment property remains SDA compliant.

Specialist Disability Accommodation certification under the SDA design standards

The SDA design standard came into effect in July 2021, and all specialist disability accommodation properties must be certified against the design standards. To ensure that each SDA dwelling is going to support the NDIS participants residing within them, only an accredited SDA assessor can issue a certificate of compliance.

SDA properties are specially designed to include provision for people with significant and permanent disability or extreme functional impairment — without meeting the design standard, it defeats the purpose of providing SDA homes.

The four design categories

While all specialist disability accommodation is designed to support people with very high support needs to live independently (or as independently as possible), the are four different categories, each with specific design requirements.

Improved liveability

This SDA housing has is designed with better physical access. The eligible participants who occupy these homes have cognitive impairment, sensory or intellectual impairment.


Robust SDA homes are designed for tenants who require assistance with managing challenging or complex behaviour. For this reason, Robust homes have secure windows, external doors and outdoor areas. The buildings are usually standalone, with sufficient space in external areas, and built with durable and strong materials to reduce the need for reactive maintenance and repairs.

Fully accessible

A fully accessible home is built with improved accessibility as its core focus. For tenants who need to use a manual or powered wheelchair, wheelchair access is considered throughout the entire design standard, with wider doorways and suitable building types.

High physical support

Ceiling hoists and assistive technology, including for communication systems, are all incorporated into the high physical support SDA design category.

The NDIS SDA rules

Under the NDIS SDA rules, a certificate of compliance must be issued for a dwelling to meet SDA eligibility. SDA dwellings must not only comply with the SDA design standard as set out in the SDA rules, but an SDA assessor must be engaged at both the design stage, and at the building and development stage.

Only an accredited SDA assessor can issue an SDA category compliance certificate.

FAQs about SDA properties

We answer some commonly asked questions about the SDA process.

Who are SDA providers?

SDA providers are registered organisations or individuals that provide SDA properties to the SDA market.

what are the roles and responsibilities of NDIS SDA providers

SDA providers are responsible for ensuring that the property continually applies to the SDA design standard, including any installations made to the property after the compliance certificate is issued. An annual declaration must be provided to the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission annually to declare the property remains compliant.

Does an SDA provider need to register the SDA dwelling?

Under the NDIS requirements, only registered SDA providers can apply to enrol for SDA dwelling enrolment.

What is SDA funding?

SDA funding is provided under an SDA participant’s NDIS plan. SDA funding is designed to help cover the building and maintenance costs of an SDA property. The NDIS SDA funding rules state that SDA payments are to be paid directly to an SDA provider, along with the reasonable rent contribution.

What is the eligibility assessment checklist

An NDIS participant’s SDA eligibility is determined using an eligibility assessment checklist. SDA funding is then determined based on the needs of the participants and the required SDA and its design category.

Investing in the National Disability Insurance Scheme

If you’re looking at investing in supported SDA, ensure that you have sufficient financial resources to cover all of the inclusions to meet your SDA property certification — speak to the team at NDIS Loan Experts.

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