Building a new home is exciting, terrifying and exhausting. There are a million decisions, details and minutiae, all of which clamour for your attention.
That volume of work and stress is also the reason why often we overlook one of the most important considerations - that of future-proofing your home.
In New Zealand just 10 per cent of people move into a retirement home - we like to stay put, in our own homes, until the end of our days. But rarely are we thinking of our last decade when caught up in the excitement of planning our house build.
That's where Lifemark hopes to get involved.
Lifemark is a rating that is awarded to a new home that meets the Lifemark Standards. The Standards cover the main areas in a home and ensure it is designed and built to be adaptable, accessible, usable, safe and offer lifetime value. A rating of either 3, 4 or 5 stars can be awarded depending on how many of the Standards are used in the home. Lifemark Standards work with any home design and any home size. It's not about more space; it's simply about choosing to have space in the right place.
For example, a Lifemark home might have extra nogs (timber beams) in the internal wall frame to which a grab rail in the bathroom can be attached, ready for the time you might need it in the future.
It will also feature doors which are wider than standard - making your home more accessible and easier to move around in.
Thought would have been put into the access to the home, with ramps rather than stairs, and flat entrance ways, rather than those with a lip which can be tripped on.
Lifemark was born as a lobby group started by CSS Disability Action, asking government to make these housing modifications mandatory. When it became obvious that wasn't to happen, it morphed into a voluntary scheme and educational organisation.
It has been adopted by some large organisations, including those in the aged care sector, but also by some forward-thinking building companies.
Lifemark partner: Lockwood
Lockwood Homes currently features among it plans ten home designs which have been 5-star Lifemark approved. More are to follow.
Vicky Jessop, marketing manager for Lockwood, says that when Lockwood joined forces with Lifemark it made sense as many of the features and benefits in a Lifemark-accredited home were already present in the Lockwood designs. It took just a small amount of tweaking to bring the plans for the ten homes up to Lifemark 5-star standard.
"We're already well known as being low-maintenance and high-durability. It was a matter of creating the spatial element around the durability and matching them together.
"It's also about having that functionality without looking like a hospital. It needs to have the wow factor, but still be suitable for all ages and stages of life," says Jessop.
Jessop says that Lockwood also sees intelligent design as a cost saving. "Retrofitting these features is incredibly expensive."
The cost of building a Lifemark home, as opposed to the average, is an extra $1700, with a one-off cost to review the plans prior to build.
Lifemark partner: Metrapanel
Metrapanel, a producer of modular panel housing systems, has been a Lifemark Accredited Partner since 2012. "We choose to align ourselves with organisations that hold similar values, such as Lifemark's focus on producing healthy buildings that serve the lifetime of a person and their individual needs," says Melissa Savage, Metrapanel business manager.
With 25 years experience, and a proven history in the retirement sector, Metrapanel offers 30?50% faster construction, and up to 6% more floor space.
"From individual units, duplexes, and multi?storey complexes, to communal facilities and hospitals, tenants reap the benefits of a naturally insulated product with superior insulation from heat, cold, and noise. As well, the property owner gets the advantage of smooth and durable walls, resulting in extensive cost maintenance savings over time," says Savage.
Recently completed, the 138 Althorp Private Hospital and Lifecare units, are experiencing the benefits of Metrapanel.
This privately owned premiere residential village for seniors in Pyes Pa, Tauranga was built in four stages over five years, entirely in Metrapanel.
Lifemark partner: Goman
Another of Lifemark's partners, Goman specialises in bathroom safety products and accessories, disability aids, products for community centres, and articles and bathroom fixtures for the elderly people.
Rather than concentrating on pure function, the company produces hyper stylish versions of these products, designed to look good in any environment.
Sleek basin designs allow a wheelchair manoeuvrability under and around, and include a unique feature with the basin and mirror block being height adjustable via a controller. Walk-In bath tubs and handrails in a broad range of modern colours and design are also features of the Goman range.