Lifetime Homes Standards

Sustainable Design > Lifetime Homes Standards

An introduction to the 16 key standards established in response to people’s changing needs

Following Research by Habinteg, The Joseph Rowntree Foundation & Helen Hamlyn Foundation, 16 key standards were established with the aim of making main-stream housing responsive to the changing needs of occupants, throughout various stages of life.

This initiative should not be associated with “designing for the disabled”, rather designing for all, and designing for flexibility.

There are 16 key areas of Lifetime Homes (LTH) where base-line recommendations have been agreed as well as further “good practice” measures.
These 16 issues are as follows:

  1. Car-parking width
  2. Access from car-parking
  3. Approach gradients
  4. Entrances
  5. Communal stairs & lifts
  6. Doorways & hallways
  7. Wheelchair accessibility
  8. Livingroom
  9. Entrance level bed-space
  10. Entrance level wc & shower drainage
  11. Bathroom and wc walls
  12. Stair-lift/ through-floor lift
  13. Tracking hoist route
  14. Bathroom layout
  15. Window specification
  16. Control fixings & fittings

( the images use these reference numbers LTH 1 to 16)
The above standards are detailed in down-loadable Appendix A, tables A & B, see below.

LTH standards 1 to 4:
Wide parking-bay, leading to level access threshold, and sheltered front door at a Habinteg Housing Association scheme in Northern Ireland.
LTH standards 7 & 12:
The intended 300mm margin beside the leading edge of an internal door is easily eroded once on site.
The above example would also not allow sufficient space for a future stair lift.
LTH standards 10 & 14:
“Wet-room” tiled floors allow level-access to a shower,
( or future shower) easing circulation space. ( Shower gulley not shown)

The 16 Lifetime Homes Standards may over-lap with:

  • Existing briefing requirements of Public Sector / Housing Associations / Private sector
  • Recently updated Building Regulations (e.g. Part M England & Wales and Part R/H Northern Ireland) (Refer to Table B in down-loadable Appendix A below, giving a comparison between LTH and related Building Regulations)
  • Planning Policy Statements (e.g. Northern Ireland’s Creating Places & PPS 7 Quality Residential Environments)

And most recently

All 16 measures are referred to in The Code for Sustainable Homes.

LTH standards 11, 12 &13:
As built information is crucial to recording services and structure so that it can be modified or avoided at a later date.
LTH standard 12:
Additional trimmers in floor joists fitted from outset, to accommodate a future though-floor lift
(Photo by courtesy of JNP Architects NI)

Building Regulations

Table A (in the down-loadable Appendix A below) summarises the key criteria for Lifetime Homes, cross-referencing it to NI Building Regulations (Part R) and other related notes. You should also refer to the original documents available on websites, as indicated on web-links below, for the full details and also helpful diagrams.

LTH standard 13:
Direct connection between a bedroom and bathroom, (as well as bathroom to landing), facilitates a future hoist to be fitted. (Photo by courtesy of JNP Architects NI)

The Code for Sustainable Homes & Relevance to Lifetime Homes:

Code Aim for Hea 4, page 220 to 226 of Technical Guidance

to encourage the construction of homes that are accessible and easily adaptable to meet the changing needs of current and future occupants

This Government-owned environmental assessment method (referred to as CSH or The Code) was introduced in England in 2006, and Northern Ireland shortly after. Compliance is a requirement on publicly funded new-build housing schemes. Private Sector may also use it to promote the sustainable aspects of a housing development. In some instances it has used as a Planning condition.

The Code relates to (and for new-build housing supersedes) the earlier BRE assessment method called “ EcoHomes”.
Lifetime Homes criteria has been introduced as one of the “Health & Well-being” sub- sections in order:

  • All 16 criteria of Lifetime Homes have to be met in order to achieve 4 credits under the Code and
  • if Level 6 (min 90% overall score) of the Code is sought then compliance with this Lifetime Homes section is compulsory.
LTH standard 12 & 13: Ceiling joists should be sized to allow future adaptations eg a ceiling mounted hoist, or through the floor lift, and any future service connections should be accurately marked on an “as built” drawing.

Benefits to The Developer, Homeowner, Visitors and Wider Society

Help the Aged policy statement of 2006 notes that LTH standards

is a long-term strategy given the relatively limited number of new homes being built

(refer to document as listed below).

As summarised in Table A ( see down-loadable Appendix below) each of the criteria offers benefits to users of buildings. Some of these relate to immediate provisions whereas many are to do with future-proofing buildings. It is in many instances much cheaper and more practical to make provisions at the out-set than try to make alterations to a building after completion and occupation. Some changes would not be achievable at a later date, for example the widening of internal circulation routes, whilst others would require additional land (for car-parking provision).

Lifetime Homes is not designed for the “disabled section of society” rather it is intended for all, reflecting that we have changing needs throughout our lives, and that (new) buildings should be designed to accommodate change.

LTH standard 15:
Escapable window with lower fixed lights which increase the views out whilst retaining a safe opening height. Handles are set too high for use from a wheelchair.
LTH standard 15& 16:
Switches located in 450-1200mm high zone. Fixed glazing panel below the 800mm opening window height & no other transoms which improve views out from a seated position. (Photo by courtesy of JNP Architects NI)

There is a clear financial advantage to both individuals and society, for older people remaining independent in their homes, rather than going into a residential home. This issue is becoming more significant as the average age of the population increases. LTH also over-laps with the “visit-ability” ethos behind recent changes to the Building Regulations, so that we don’t limit the design of dwellings to anticipated specific needs of occupants.

LTH standard 16:
Typical consumer unit is located at high level. Could be set lower if in a lockable cupboard?

There are many over-laps between the LTH standards and Building Regulations as noted in Table B ( see down-loadable Appendix below). Indeed the UK Office of Deputy Prime Minister had initially planned to introduce LTH through Part M (England & Wales) Building Regulations. Instead LTH was introduced through the Code for Sustainable Homes, and is only compulsory wherever the highest level 6 rating is being sought (see notes above on the Code for Sustainable Homes).

LTH standards 1 to 4: Private dwelling during construction, showing a wide covered parking bay leading directly to a ramped pathway, up to the sheltered front door.

Click here to download Appendix A (PDF)
Web references
TABLE A: Issue & Benefits
TABLE B: Summary of Lifetime Homes vs Building Regulations (Northern Ireland)