Archive for September, 2007

More Project Partners

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

More of the companies that I spoke to at the Sydney Home Show have contacted me to become involved in the project.

Miele Logo


Miele appliances have great human-machine interfaces. We chaecked out a number of ovens, cooktops, dishwashers and laundry appliances and found them all suitable for use by people with accessibility issues.

Hebel Logo


Hebel make a product called aerated autoclaved concrete. This is a fancy name for concrete that has lots of bubbles in it and is cured in a pressure cooker. Hebel sheets are very strong, lightweight and provide superior insulation. Hebel panels will be used as a cladding for the upper level of the house.

Easy Living Lifts

 Easy Living Home Elevators

Easy Living Home Elevators make a lift that is suitable for use in the project, as do

Master Lifts

 Master Lifts

Master Lifts also make a suitable elevator although theirs comes complete with the lift shaft and can be craned into the building in one step.

Enzie Spiral stairs logo

Enzie Spiral Stairs

It might sound counter intuitive to have stairs in an accessable design project, but this is what Universal Design is about. The building must be able to be used in a practical manner by both young, old able and disable bodied people. The intallation of a spiral staircase at the front of the house will increase the accessibility of the lace by able bodied visitors.

Development Application Surprises

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

Well the development application arrived in the mail last week. There was one surprise however. The council have concluded that the development has 6 bedrooms. This is 2 more than what is allowed under normal dual occupancy properties. What this means is that the council can now levy charges under what they call a Section 94 Contribution.

The section 94 contributions are:

Water Charges – $5,356
Sewer Charges – $4,070
Public Reserve – $2,180
Recreation facilities – $288

A total of $11,894

Now these are fees that I had not anticipated. I spoke to the council and they confirmed that they are standard contributions based on bedroom counts. They have counted the home office as a “probable” bedroom, which I do not think is all that fair.

I intend to appeal this decision and take up the Mayors offer of help to get this resolved. I can save about half of this by having the bedroom count pulled back to 5 which it really is.

But to get things moving I am going to have to shell out the cash and hope for a successful appeal.

Here is a copy of the Development application. Check out the last page which relates to the section 94 contributions.

Imlay Street Development Application Consent.

Support from Government for Universal Design Project

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

I managed to score a meeting with the State Government representative for the area Andrew Constance. I am lucky that Andrew is also the Shadow Minister for Ageing and Disabilities so he was keen to hear what we were doing. He also arranged a meeting with the Mayor of Bega Tony Allen who was recently returned to the position.

The results of the meeting were that they would provide letters of support for the Universal Design project as they can see that there is a need for such a facillity on the far south coast of New South Wales. They also put me in contact with the Bega Valley Respite service who would like to use the facillity in the future.

Looks like we are off to a good start. To review the letters click on the links below.

Andrew Constance Support letter

Bega Valley Respite Service Support letter

Project Partners – Universal Design Collaberation

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

Well the trip to the Sydney Home Show was a success. I think that I walked 50 miles up and down the aisles and pressed a lot of flesh. It took me two days but I think that I have co-opted a core set of partners.


Boral have a number of building product divisions. It took a bit of probing but I finally got a marketing contact that crosses all divisions and he agreed to help me coordinate a number of supply lines. These include:

Boral Timber
This division can look after all of the timber required for the decking.

Boral Cement
This division has a concrete plant in Pambula which is only about 10 km away from Merimbula. They can look after all of the concrete needed for slabs and doing the blockwork.

Boral Clay & Concrete Products
This division can look after all of the building blocks and pavers.

Boral Plasterboard
I am really keen to use a new product from this division which is impact check plasterboard. This is designed to take a beating from people in wheelchairs. Something I know all too much about.


 Bluescope Steel

Bluescope Steel have agreeed to help with the roofing, the steel framing and as the house is eco-friendly it has two 3,000 litre water tanks.



Eubiq make this really great system that will reduce the requirement for trailing electrical extension leads around the home. Trailing cords are a severe trip hazard and falls are one of the most common accidents around the home. This system will enhance safety.



Dynalite make this really cool home automation lighting system. What this will enable us to do is to work all of the lighting via remote control. This system is used commercially and in care facilities.

There are a few more companies that have joined us as partners but I will leave them for the next post.

Procuring Equipment via Ebay

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

Now that we have some sort of time line on the Imlay street Universal Design project I can start to increase the equipment collection program. I have been scouring eBay for all types of stuff.

I have managed to get so far:

Montana Scooter

Montana Scooter

This is supposed to be the Rolls Royce of scooters. It is made in China but has been designed by an Australian company called Lotus-Blake The scooter has 4 coil independant suspension for a super smooth ride and is powered by a 36 volt motor, which gives it a heap of grunt. For more details on the specifications for the Montana scooter click here.

The unit that I picked up from eBay was almost new (They sell for $5,500 Aud) The previous owners family just wanted to get some space back so were willing to part with the unit for $2,400. We will use the scooter for ourselves and for guests who come to stay, saving them the trouble of transporting their own scooter.

Promed – Elf Patient Lifter

Pro Med Elf Lifter

This unit came from a family whose father had MS for many years, but unfortunenately had become so disabled he needed to go into a nursing home. I saw the unit on eBay, it came with three additional batteries, one of which was almost new and sling. It can lift up to 127 kg and is very manouvreable. The unit had been purchased for $2,030 some 5 years ago. The owners and I came to a deal where I paid $750 for the lot.

Hopefully I can build up a “library” of equipment that is hard to transport, so that guests to our facillity will not have to worry about logistics that resemble “moving the seventh fleet”.

Presenting an Opportunity for Collaberation

Saturday, September 8th, 2007

Now that we have sorted out the basic construction of the Imlay Street Universal Design Project, we can start to approach prospective building material suppliers to partner in the project. The project has the potential to be an exemplar of using the concepts of Universal Design in a major renovation. For this reason it is likely to attract attention within the building industry. We want to leverage this attention for the benefit of the project and our partners.

This is where I am going to have to use my marketing skills. (For more info on my career background click here)

I have put together details about the project and the benefits that our partners can enjoy in the following document.

Universal Design Project Promotional Pitch

I am going to use the Sydney Home Show to try to establish relationships

A Universal Design Project Comes to Life.

Saturday, September 8th, 2007

After many meetings with Harry Sprintz we have reached a point where we are happy with the overall design. The project has been designed so that it is very wheel chair friendly and incorporates state of the art fixtures and fittings to make life easier for people with disabilities.

Here are the plans. Click on these images to see a larger view with more detail. (Printable PDF’s are in free downloads)

Imlay Street Elevations        Imlay Street Ground Floor Plans       Imlay Street First Floor Plans

From here the process is to apply to the Bega Valley Shire Council for a development application (D.A) and a construction certificate. (C.C) And then we will need to find a builder to bring these drawings to life.