SDASDA Essentials

SDA Design Categories

home modification

SDA Design Categories

For accommodation to be suitable for SDA participants, it must comply with certain standards and characteristics that meet participants’ needs and the nature of their disability.

There are 5 broad categories of SDA design, each of which is assessed against a relevant Livable Housing Australia design standard. To have a home certified for SDA, it needs to be certified by a Livable Housing Assessor. Optimal Living Therapy can provide comprehensive Livable Housing Assessments and Certifications through site and desktop audits.

SDA is based on five broad categories of design:

  • Basic
  • Improved Livability
  • Fully Accessible
  • Robust
  • High Physical Support

The relevance of a design category in relation to proposed SDA shall be determined in conjunction with the users of the building, to ensure the design is appropriate to support the needs of the occupants.

Furthermore, to ensure that buildings are capable of meeting the needs of participant’s who will be residing in the dwelling, it’s essential that all designs include features to enhance livability for participant’s appropriate to their needs.

SDA design categoryDefinitionMinimum Requirements for New Builds

Housing without specialised design features but with other important SDA characteristics (e.g. location, privacy, shared supports).

Learn more about basic SDA

Available for Existing Stock only.
Improved Livability

Housing that has been designed toimprove ‘Livability’ by incorporating a reasonable level of physical access and enhanced provision for people with sensory, intellectual or cognitive impairment

Learn more about improved liveability SDA

  • Livable Housing Australia ‘Silver’ level
  • One or more ‘improved Livability’ design features such as luminance contrasts, improved wayfinding or lines of sight

Fully Accessible

Housing that has been designed to incorporate a high level of physical access provision for people with significant physical impairment

Learn more about fully accessible SDA

  • Livable Housing Australia ‘Platinum’ level
  • External doors and external outdoor private areas to be accessible by wheelchair
  • Bathroom vanity/hand basin to be accessible in seated or standing position
  • Power supply to doors and windows (blinds), for retrofit of automation as necessary
  • Consideration must be given to whether it is appropriate for the kitchen sink, cooktop, meal preparation bench area and key appliances (dishwasher, oven, microwave oven, laundry appliances) to be accessible in seated or standing position


Housing that has been designed to incorporate a high level of physical access provision and be very resilient, reducing the likelihood of reactive maintenance and reducing the risk to the participant and the community.

Learn more about Robust SDA

  • Livable Housing Australia ‘Silver’ level
  • Resilient but inconspicuous materials that can withstand heavy use and minimises the risk of injury and neighbourhood disturbance including:
    • high impact wall lining, fittings and fixtures (e.g. blinds, door handles)
    • secure windows, doors and external areas
    • appropriate sound proofing if residents are likely to cause significant noise disturbances (if required must retrofit in new builds if not previously installed at building stage
    • Laminated glass
  • Layout with areas of egress and retreat for staff and other residents to avoid harm if required
  • Consideration must be given to providing adequate space and safeguards throughout the property to accommodate the needs of residents with complex behaviours

High Physical Support

Housing that has been designed to incorporate a high level of physical access provision for people with significant physical impairment and requiring very high levels of support.

Learn more about High Physical Support SDA

All requirements listed in the ‘Fully Accessible’ design category, plus:

  • Structural provision for ceiling hoists
  • Assistive technology ready
  • Heating/cooling and household communication technology (e.g. video or intercom systems) appropriate for the needs of residents
  • Emergency power solutions to cater for a minimum two hour outage where the welfare of participants is at risk
  • 950mm minimum clear opening width doors to all habitable rooms

AllApplicable to all categories

In all cases, SDA should:

  • ensure the property is designed and maintained in a manner that is consistent with other properties in the neighbourhood
  • recognise the importance of outdoor areas and allow for adequate land area commensurate with the number of residents in the household


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