September 4, 2023

Are SDA Homes Built Under Livable Housing Design Guidelines or SDA Standards?

Building or renovating any property in Australia means following various guidelines, ranging from council requirements to the Australian building code. When building a specialist disability accommodation (SDA) home, many query whether they must comply with the Liveable Housing Australia (LHA) design guidelines or the SDA standards.

In this brief guide, we answer that exact question and provide some additional information about building a specialist disability accommodation property.

What are the Liveable Housing Design Guidelines?

The Livable Housing Design Guidelines in Australia are a set of nationally recognised design principles aimed at promoting and enabling the creation of homes that are accessible, adaptable, and inclusive for people of all ages and abilities. These guidelines have been developed by Liveable Housing Australia (LHA) and provide standards and recommendations for features such as step-free entrances, wider doorways, manoeuvrable spaces, and other design elements that enhance the livability and accessibility of homes, making them more suitable for people with disability or changing needs over time, than pre-existing homes.


What is the SDA design standard?

Under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), SDA design standards came into full effect on the 1st of July 2021. The standards set out all the requirements for SDA properties across the four design categories. All dwellings seeking enrolment as an SDA property must undergo a mandatory assessment by an accredited third-party SDA assessor to obtain a certification of compliance with the SDA standards.

The four SDA design categories

Specialist disability accommodation housing is built across four different design categories.

Fully accessible

Fully accessible homes are built to provide a high level of physical access for those with physical impairment.

High physical support

Similarly, high physical support homes are also designed for NDIS participants with significant physical impairment and require very high levels of support.

Improved liveability

An improved liveability NDIS home is designed to incorporate a reasonable level of physical access with enhanced provision (such as assistive technology) to help improve the liveability within the home for participants with cognitive, sensory or intellectual impairment.


Robust homes are built with more durable building materials to provide a reasonable level of resiliency to reduce the general risk to participants who experience extreme behavioural challenges.

SDA assessors

Only individuals holding accreditation as SDA Assessors can issue a certificate indicating SDA category compliance. This pivotal role involves determining whether the design and final-as-built aspects of the SDA home meet the SDA Design Standards.

All accredited SDA Assessors function as independent third-party contractors. Remaining impartial and separate from the NDIS allows SDA assessors to be completely detached from the application during all stages of the assessment.

Which guidelines are to be used when building specialist disability accommodation?

Given that SDA homes are purpose-built with the necessary provision to support NDIS participants with high physical support needs or extreme functional impairment, the SDA standards supersede the LHA guidelines. The livable housing design guidelines are vital to help older people (or those with mobility issues) access suitable accommodation for their needs and range of abilities.

Starting the SDA build process

With so much to consider before you can even begin the SDA build process, it might pay to work with NDIS investment specialists. At Apollo Investment, we assist investors at every step of the NDIS investment journey, from design and funding right through to enrolment.

Find out more about how you can take the first step to investing in your financial future and the Australian community by reaching out to the team at Apollo Investment.

Get in touch with our team for more information now.

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