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sda design standards

Can You Apply for Multiple SDA Categories in a Single Dwelling?

With SDA split into four separate design categories (Improved Livability, Robust, Fully Accessible and High Physical Support), you might be wondering about the possibility of obtaining certification for a single dwelling containing multiple categories. 

While it’s entirely possible to have a dwelling certified under more than one design category, there are factors that need to be considered when combining participants under different categories. 

Minimum standards must be met for each enrolled design category

In the certification process for Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA), it’s essential that all minimum standards are met for each enrolled design category. For instance, one such requirement mandates a minimum clear width of 1000mm for accessways, measured from the narrowest part, which applies to both Improved Livability and Robust design categories. However, for High Physical Support and Fully Accessible categories, the minimum width increases to 1200mm. If a dwelling plans to include both Robust and High Physical Support categories, the higher standard of 1200mm width applies to the entire house, despite the Robust category’s requirement being 1000mm.

Consider the appropriateness of the home design for participants of the intended category

Just because your SDA design has met the minimum standards for a particular design category, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a suitable environment for the intended occupants. 

Take the Robust category for example, the Robust design category can include multi-storey properties, provided they follow the requirements outlined in the minimum design standards. However, amidst the architectural considerations, it’s crucial to assess the safety of stairs, particularly concerning the unique needs of Robust participants. While multi-storey living might be feasible and desirable for some, the safety challenges posed by stairs mean careful evaluation needs to be taken. Robust participants, by definition, require environments that can withstand more intensive use and potential impact. Ensuring that stairs are accessible but also safe and suitable for individuals with robust needs becomes essential. 

Lifts are required for multi-storey dwellings with more than one design category

Lifts are mandated for three out of the four design categories, leaving Improved Livability as the sole exception not necessitating lifts. This means that a new SDA dwelling intending on including more than one SDA category must include a lift. Keep in mind that multi-storey dwellings may not be safe for participants in the Robust category. 

If an SDA dwelling incorporates Improved Livability on the top floor (the only category that does not require lifts) and other categories on the ground floor, it is still important to include a lift to ensure equitable access throughout the residence for all who live there. It’s important to thoughtfully design the homes with considerations to accommodate diverse needs while prioritising safety and accessibility in SDA.

Navigating the intricacies of SDA design categories requires careful attention to detail and consideration of participant needs, safety, and accessibility. As you embark on your journey to develop or invest in SDA properties, it’s vital to work with experts who understand the challenges of SDA financing and regulations. Our team at NDIS Loan Experts is here to guide you through the process, offering tailored financial solutions and expert guidance to help you achieve your SDA goals. Get in touch with us today to explore how we can support your SDA property investment. 

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