Australia's ageing population is changing the nation's homes, with a boom in elevator installations

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  • Australia’s population is getting older, and it’s changing how people are using their homes.
  • There’s been a boom in installations of in-home elevators and other renovations to make houses easier for older people to live in.

The ageing population in Australia will change the way we live.

Around 15% of Australians are aged 65 and by 2050, the group will represent around a fifth of the population.

It’s not just changing the population — it’s changing our homes.

Builders and contractors are seeing a rise in people future-proofing their homes to make them better places to grow old — and it’s not just coming from the elderly, but in some cases from people in their 40s and 50s.

People are adding features to their houses that will help them in old age so that when they reach a point where they would traditionally have move to a retirement home, they can stay in their own places instead.

This is particularly evident by the number of lift installations being completed in homes across Australia.

Online marketplace for tradespeople hipages has seen job listings relating to lift installations increase 20% increase in just the past year.

Owner of CHOICElift Henry Wojciechowski, a hipages user, said he previously only installed lifts in luxury homes, whereas now the trend is more widespread.

“While a few years back home lifts were typically being installed in luxury homes predominantly around the coastline, they are today being fitted in all areas of large cities including newly created suburbs,” said Wojciechowski.

“There’s also a growing portion being installed into regional towns.

“We’ve certainly observed a few fold increase in interest to install home elevators over the last decade where the main driving factor is future proofing one’s largest lifetime investments — their own homes.

“This trend being seen has not grown due to needs of any particular age group but due to changing perception of a lift in a house – not as an item of luxury but of convenience, also securing or adding value to a property by making it more marketable and accessible for all.

“The most common reason behind installation of a lift in a home is making it easy to access by the owners, their visitors, or extended family living in the same dwelling.”

Compact Home Lifts is another company that has seen a surge in demand for elevator installations.

David Mayer, NSW State Sales Manager said about 80-90% of their work is now retro-fitting elevators in people’s houses.

He said customers say it’s better value to install a lift for around $29,000 than it is to pay the extras like stamp duty and an agent’s commission involved in selling and buying a home.

He said multi-generational living is also a driving factor behind the trend.

“The parents are living upstairs and the [adult] kids are living downstairs — it’s two residencies in the one,” he said.

Mayer’s average customer age is in their 70s but he said he’s increasingly taking enquiries from those in their 40s.

Compact, which operates across Australia, has started to see increased work around the Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie area of New South Wales.

ABS

According to data by the ABS this area of NSW — the Mid North Coast — has the highest percentage of residents aged 65 years and over.

“Ten years ago people would have had no option than to leave the house,” he says.

“Now they have the option. [We’re] bringing lifts to the masses.”

Mayer continued: “I’ve been doing lifts for 15 years in houses. At first they were only popular with the wealthy… and in the last 3-4 years the general public became aware of it”.

He says installing a lift also a lot less fuss than many think.

“The builder comes in Tuesday, we come in Wednesday, the lift is done in two days,” he said. “It used to take two weeks.”

According to Ibisworld, the industry as a whole has also been doing well, and is projected to grow by an annual compound rate of 1.7% over the five years through 2017-18, to reach $1.2 billion.

According to the ABS, by 2056, older Australians are expect to make up 22% of the population, and by 2096 that is likely to increase to 25%.

And with 72% of hospitalised fall cases in 2012–13 occurring in either the home or a residential aged care facility, adding a lift to the home might not be such a bad idea.

ABS

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