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front cover lifetime home design guide

For Professionals


The most up to date analysis of the costs of building to the Lifetime Homes standard was summarised in the DCLG document: The Future of the Code for Sustainable Homes published in July 2007.

There have been a number of studies into the costs and benefits of building to the Lifetime Homes standard. These have concluded that the costs range from £545 to £1615 per dwelling, depending on:

  • the experience of the home designer and builder;
  • the size of the dwelling (it is easier to design larger dwellings that incorporate Lifetime Homes standards cost effectively than smaller ones);
  • whether Lifetime Homes design criteria were designed into developments from the outset or whether a standard house type is modified (it is more cost effective to incorporate the standards at the design stage rather than modify standard designs); and
  • any analysis of costs is a ‘snapshot' in time. The net cost of implementing Lifetime Homes will diminish as the concept is more widely adopted and as design standards, and market expectations, rise.

The most significant factor when considering costs was whether the home had been designed to incorporate Lifetime Homes criteria from the outset or whether a standard design had been modified.

In 1997 Sangster[1] looked at costs when incorporating the Lifetime Homes standard from design stage and found that extra costs could be as low as £90 for a three-bedroom, five-person social rented house, and £100 for the same size house in the private sector. The study found that most of the Lifetime Homes design criteria cost nothing when designed in at the beginning. The inclusion of a downstairs toilet, with the possibility to incorporate a shower later, incurred the highest cost. With the exception of the two-bedroom, four-person house, the extra cost associated with the toilet was £69.

Taking the same approach as the Sangster study, Martin[2] updated the costs in 2006 and estimated additional costs to be:


Lifetime Homes Design Criterion 

Costs per dwelling (£) 
 Communal stairways and lifts   Negligible
 Doors and hallways  Negligible
 Entrance level WC and shower drainage      120
 Bathroom and WC walls  50
 Entrance level bedspace  100
 Stair lift / through-floor lift  60
 Tracking hoist route  25
 Increasing floor area of 2 bed. houses to 70m2   192
 TOTAL  547


Cyril Sweett when considering the implications of moving from EcoHomes Very Good to the draft Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH) concluded that Lifetime Homes did not have a significant impact on overall project costs because the requirements of the revised Part M of Building Regulations now require many of the same considerations to be addressed as a matter of course.

It is estimated that compliance with the Lifetime Homes standard could result in additional costs of around £550 per home. A study commissioned in Northern Ireland estimated the additional costs of building to the Lifetime Homes standard to be between £165 and a maximum of £545. The study noted that because Parker Morris floor space standards had been retained for social housing in Northern Ireland, in most instances it would be possible to incorporate the Lifetime Homes design criteria without adding to the overall areas. However Ainsley Gommon found that when standard house designs are modified, it could cost in the region of £1,500 extra per family dwelling and that the ‘extra-over’ area required to accommodate the Lifetime Homes design criteria for each of three ‘pattern-book’ house types. The study found the extra space required for and cost of providing the standards was respectively:


House Type  4 person, 2 bed.  4 person, 3 bed.  5 person, 3 bed. 
 Base build area  72.5m2  78.9m2  85.00m2
 Extra-over area  4.47m2  3.78m2  3.00m2
 Extra cost (£)  £1615  £1570  £1435



English Partnerships commissioned a Lessons Learnt study on its policy guidance document Quality and Price Standards [3] – for use in development competitions and site disposal tendering which has been tested on several English Partnerships sites that incorporated the mandatory Lifetime Homes standard for development of its sites and for its funding of projects. The Lessons Learnt study sets out lessons learned from the Design for Manufacture competition (the ‘£60k house’) which has resulted in application of the Quality and Price Standards over a development season, with approximately 1000 houses in the pipeline. The objective of the competition was to challenge the home building industry to re-think its design and construction processes to demonstrate that new sustainable homes can be achieved at affordable costs without sacrificing quality or space standards.

The Lessons Learnt show that:

  • developers will be achieving densities of over 60 homes per hectare in suburban locations, mainly with houses;
  • the imaginative response by bidders to Lifetime Homes criteria has also shown that additional costs can be avoided if they are designed-out early enough. So every home can be a truly inclusive home for people with disabilities or for the elderly or for families with young children;
  • quality and cost are compatible. Homes in the competition are at least 76.5 sq m gross internal floor area so cost savings are not being achieved by making homes smaller. No development subsidy has been given by the public sector to these sites, demonstrating that such achievements can be repeated on private land in future.





Sangster K. (Walker Richardson QS) Costing Lifetime Homes. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation 1997

Martin J, Martin A The Cost of the Lifetime Homes Initiative RICS Building Cost Information Service 2006 (unpublishedstudy for ODPM)

 CLG and English Partnerships Design for Manufacture – Lessons Learnt