Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) Frequently Asked Questions

What Types of Buildings Can be Used for SDA?

  • Apartments, which are self-contained units occupying only part of a larger residential building. Apartments are typically classified as Building Class 2 under the Building Code of Australia.
  • Duplexes, villas and townhouses, which are separate but semi-attached properties within a single land title or strata titled area. The dwellings will be separated from one or more adjoining dwellings by a fire-resisting wall (although fire resistance is not required for Existing Stock). These may also include ancillary dwellings that are located on the same parcel of land as another dwelling (such as standalone villas or ‘granny flats’). These types of buildings are typically classified as Building Class 1(a)(i), 1(a)(ii) or 3 under the Building Code of Australia.
  • Houses, which are detached low-rise dwellings with garden or courtyard areas. Houses are typically classified as Building Class 1(a)(i), 1(b)(i) or 3 under the Building Code of Australia.
  • Group homes, which are houses that are enrolled (or will be enrolled) to house four or five long-term residents. Group homes are typically classified as Building Class 1(b)(i) or 3 under the Building Code of Australia.
  • Larger dwellings, which are enrolled (or will be enrolled) to house more than five long-term residents (only funded in limited circumstances).

What Are the SDA Building Design Categories and Minimum Requirements?

Basic design, which refers to housing without specialist design features but with a location or other features that cater for the needs of people with disabilities and assist with the delivery of support services (only funded in limited circumstances—see paragraph); Improved livability design, which refers to housing that has been designed to improve ‘liveability’ by incorporating a reasonable level of physical access and enhanced provision for people with sensory, intellectual or cognitive impairment; Fully accessible design, which refers to housing that has been designed to incorporate a high level of physical access provision for people with significant physical impairment; Robust design, which refers to housing that has been designed to incorporate a high level of physical access provision and to be very resilient, reducing the likelihood of reactive maintenance and reducing the risk to the participant and the community; High physical support design, which refers to 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.

Basic –  Existing housing that does not have specialised design features, but does have important SDA characteristics i.e. Location, Privacy, Shared Supports.

Improved Livability – LHA “Silver” level One or more ‘improved livability’ design features i.e. luminance contrasts, improved way finding or line of sight.

Fully Accessible – LHA “Platinum” level External doors and External outdoor private areas accessible by wheelchair. Bathroom Vanity/Hand Basin accessible in seated or standing position. Power supply to doors and windows (blinds), for retrofit of automation if necessary. Consideration must be given to whether or not it is appropriate for kitchen sink, cook top, bench areas and key appliances (dishwasher, oven, microwave, laundry appliances) to be accessible in a seated or standing position.

Robust – LHA “Silver” level Resilient, inconspicuous materials that can withstand heavy use and minimises risk of injury and neighbourhood disturbances i.e. High impact wall lining, fittings, fixtures (door handles, blinds, etc.), secure windows, doors and external areas. Appropriate sound proofing if residents are likely to cause significant noise disturbances, Laminated glass, layout of areas of egress and retreat for staff and other residents to avoid harm. Consideration must be given to providing adequate space and safeguards throughout property to accommodate complex behaviours.

High Physical Support – LHA “Platinum” level In addition to – “Fully Accessible”: Structural provision for ceiling hoists, assertive tech ready, heating/cooling and household communication tech appropriate for the needs of residents, Emergency power for a minimum of a two-hour outage, 950mm minimum clear opening width doors to all habitable rooms.

What Minimum Requirements Must Each SDA Building Have?

Silver

  • A safe continuous and step free path of travel from the street entrance and/or parking area to a dwelling entrance that is level.
  • At least one, level (step-free) entrance into the dwelling.
  • Internal doors and corridors that facilitate comfortable and unimpeded movement between spaces.
  • A toilet on the ground (or entry level) that provides easy access.
  • A bathroom that contains a hobless shower recess.
  • Reinforced walls around the toilet, shower and bath to support safe installation of grab rails at a later date.
  • Stairways are designed to reduce the likelihood of injury and also enable future adaptation.

Gold

  • The kitchen space is designed to support ease of movement between fixed benches and to support easy adaptations.
  • The laundry space is designed to support ease of movement between fixed benches and to support easy adaptations.
  • There is space on the ground or entry level that can be used as a bedroom.
  • Light switches and power points are located at heights that are easy to reach for all home occupants.
  • Home occupants are able to easily and independently open and close doors and safely use tap hardware.

Platinum

  • The family/ living room features clear space to enable the home occupant to move in and around the room with ease.
  • Window sills are installed at a height that enables the home to view the window space from either a sitting or standing position.
  • Floor coverings are slip resistant to reduce the likelihood of slips, trips and falls in the home.

What Are the Required Measurements for Architects Designing SDA?

Silver Gold Platinum
Path of travel should have a width of 1000mm and no steps, an even slip resistance surface, crossfall no more than 1:40 path scope no more than 1.14. If path of travel is from a parking space, min dimension of 5400mm x 3200mm even, firm,  non slip level surface   Path of travel should have a width of 1100mm and no steps, an even slip resistance surface, crossfall no more than 1:40 path scope no more than 1.14. If path of travel is from a parking space, min dimension of 5400mm x 3200mm  even, firm,  non slip level surface.

Must have a covered and have a vertical clearance of 2500mm

Path of travel should have a width of 1200mm and no steps, an even slip resistance surface, crossfall no more than 1:40 path scope no more than 1.14. If path of travel is from a parking space, min dimension of 6000mm x 3200mm even, firm,  non slip level surface.  non slip level surface.

Must have a covered and have a vertical clearance of 2500mm

Entrance door min width being 820mm. A level transition between abutting surfaces is required (5mm vertical difference is allowed if lip is rounded). Reasonable shelter from weather. Landing area at least 1200mm x 1200mm where the vertical difference is > 5mm but <56mm a ramp may be provided. Entrance door min width being 850mm. A level transition between abutting surfaces is required (5mm vertical difference is allowed if lip is rounded). Reasonable shelter from weather. Landing area at least 1350mm x 1350mm where the vertical difference is > 5mm but <56mm a ramp may be provided. Entrance door min width being 900mm. A level transition between abutting surfaces is required (5mm vertical difference is allowed if lip is rounded). Reasonable shelter from weather. Landing area at least 1500mm x 1500mm where the vertical difference is > 5mm but <56mm a ramp may be provided.
Doorways on ground level require min clearance width of 820mm. Internal doors must have a level transition and no more than 5mm vertical distance (5mm is allowable if lip is rounded) Corridors/ Hallways to doorways referred to above, should provide a min of 1000mm Doorways on ground level require min clearance width of 850mm.  Internal doors must have a level transition and no more than 5mm vertical distance (5mm is allowable if lip is rounded) Corridors/ Hallways to doorways referred to above, should provide a min of 1000mm Doorways on ground level require min clearance width of 900mm.  Internal doors must have a level transition and no more than 5mm vertical distance (5mm is allowable if lip is rounded) Corridors/ Hallways to doorways referred to above, should provide a min of 1200mm
A toilet on ground level that has a min 900mm between the walls of the bathrooms. A min of 1200mm clear circulation space forward of toilet, exclusive of the swing of the door, toilet should be located in the corner of the bathroom (if in a combination bathroom) to allow the installation of rails at a later date. A toilet on ground level that has a min 900mm between the walls of the bathrooms. A min of 1200mm clear circulation space forward of toilet, exclusive of the swing of the door, toilet should be located in the corner of the bathroom (if in a combination bathroom) to allow the installation of rails at a later date. A toilet on ground level that has a min clearing width of 1200mm between the walls of the bathrooms or between amenities if located in a combined bathroom.  A min of 1200mm clear circulation space forward of toilet, exclusive of the swing of the door, toilet should be located in the corner of the bathroom (if in a combination bathroom) to allow the installation of rails at a later date. Toilet seat positioned between 450mm – 460mm from the nearest wall (measured from the centre line of toilet). 600mm min clearance forward of cistern (if cistern is recessed 790mm- 810mm). Seat height between 460mm- 480mm).
A bathroom should have slip resistant hobless shower recess. Show screens are allowable if they can be easily uninstalled. Shower recess should be located in the corner of the room to allow for the installation of grab rails at a later date. A bathroom should have slip resistant hobless shower recess. Show screens are allowable if they can be easily uninstalled. Shower recess should be located in the corner of the room to allow for the installation of grab rails at a later date. The hobless shower recess should be located on the ground level and be min 900mm x 900mm and provide a clear space of 1200mm x 1200mm in front of the shower recess. A bathroom should have slip resistant hobless shower recess. Show screens are allowable if they can be easily uninstalled. Shower recess should be located in the corner of the room to allow for the installation of grab rails at a later date.  The hobless shower recess should be located on the ground level and be min 1160mm x 1100mm  and provide a clear space of 1600mm x 1400mm in front of the shower recess.
Walls in bathrooms/ toilets should be reinforced allowing safe installation of grab rails at a later date, walls around toilet, baths, hobless shower recess should be reinforced by noggins 25mm thick and sheeting 12mm thick.     Walls in bathrooms/ toilets should be reinforced allowing safe installation of grab rails at a later date, walls around toilet, baths, hobless shower recess should be reinforced by noggins 25mm thick and sheeting 12mm thick.  
Stairways must feature a handrail along the whole length of one side, where the rise is no more than 1m Stairways must feature a handrail along the whole length of one side, where the rise is no more than 1m and have a minimum width of 1000mm, be straight and positioned adjoining a load bearing wall and have a non slip finish.   Stairways must feature a handrail along the whole length of one side, where the rise is no more than 1m and have a minimum width of 1000mm, be straight and positioned adjoining a load bearing wall and have a non slip finish. The stairway must have closed risers, handrails on both sides and a minimum 1200mm x 1200mm area at the base/ top of the stairway
The kitchen space is designed to support ease of movement and adaptation with min 1200mm in front of fixed benches and appliances. Where appliances are not installed the recess area for an appliance should be min 600mm as well as no slip flooring and task lightening above workspaces. Flooring should extend under benches to enable removal of cupboards without affecting floors The kitchen space is designed to support ease of movement and adaptation with min 1550mm in front of fixed benches and appliances. Where appliances are not installed the recess area for an appliance should be min 600mm as well as no slip flooring and task lightening above workspaces. Flooring should extend under benches to enable removal of cupboards without affecting floors
The laundry space designed to support ease of movement and adaptation with min 1200mm in front of fixed benches and appliances. Flooring should extend under benches to enable the removal of cupboards without affecting the flooring. The laundry space designed to support ease of movement and adaptation with min 1500mm in front of fixed benches and appliances. Where appliances are not installed, the recess area for an appliance should be a recess of 600mm as well as non slip flooring and task lighting above workspace. Flooring should extend under benches to enable the removal of cupboards without affecting the flooring.
There is space/ room on the ground level that is at least 10m2 (excluding wardrobe / skirting boards/ wall lining)  and provides a minimum path of at least 1000mm on one side of the bed There is space/ room on the ground level that is at least 1540mm x 2070 mm  (excluding wardrobe / skirting boards/ wall lining) on the side of the bed closest to the door and provides a minimum path of at least 1000mm on one side of the bed/ on the other side of the bed. Where there is no bed, the design should be assume a queen size.
Light switches and power points should be positioned in a consistent location between 900mm and 1100mm and horizontally aligned with the door handles at the entrance of the room. Power points should be installed no lower than 300mm off the floor. Light switches and power points should be positioned in a consistent location between 900mm and 1100mm and horizontally aligned with the door handles at the entrance of the room. Power points should be installed no lower than 300mm off the floor. Light and power switches should be a rocker action, toggle or push pad in design with a recommended width of 35mm.
Doorways should feature door hardware installed between 900mm and 1100mm above the finished door.   Doorways should feature door hardware installed between 900mm and 1100mm above the finished door. Doorways should feature leaver / D pull style door hardware and basins / sinks/ tubs should feature lever or capstan style style tap hardware with a central spout.
The family room should accommodate a free space that has a min diameter of 2250mm
Window sills on the ground level in living areas/ bedroom should be no higher than 1000mm above the finished floor level (excl kitchen, bathroom and utility space) and the window operations should be accessible easily with one hand and within reach of a seated/ standing position.  
Floor coverings are firm, level and slip resistant and feature a level transition between abutting surfaces is required (5mm vertical difference is allowable if lip is rounded)

How to you Claim a Payment for SDA?

Claims for payment by a provider must be for a specific Design Category and Building Type that is identified by the provider when enrolling the dwelling. The provider must ensure that the dwelling meets all of the requirements of the Design Category and Building Type for the claim made.

The dwelling for which SDA is claimed must be enrolled with the NDIS Q&SC (for New South Wales and South Australia) or the NDIA (for all other jurisdictions). The requirements that must be met for a dwelling to be enrolled are set out in the SDA Rules and the SDA NDIS Q&SC Rule. In summary the requirements are that the dwelling:

  • Is a permanent dwelling (for example, it is not a mobile home),
  • Is intended to provide long-term accommodation for at least one participant,
  • Is not already being funded as accommodation by the Commonwealth, a State or Territory under a scheme unrelated to disability; and is not excluded from the SDA because it has previously received home modifications funding from the NDIA,
  • Is not excluded from being SDA because it is the parental home,
  • Meets the requirements of a New Build (including density restrictions), Existing Stock or Legacy Stock set out in the SDA Rules and the SDA NDIS Q&SC Rule,
  • For New Builds – all its shared areas and the majority of its bedrooms and similar sized private rooms comply with the Minimum Requirements
  • For Existing Stock – all its shared areas and the majority of its bedrooms and similar sized private rooms substantially comply with the Minimum Requirements in this Price Guide for the Design Category of the dwelling.

The registered provider must have the certifications required by the SDA Rules and the SDA NDIS Q&SC Rule that the dwelling: complies with the SDA Rules and the SDA NDIS Q&SC Rule, and Price Guide; and meets all applicable building codes and laws.

Can I Claim Payment if I have a Vacant Apartment with SDA?

There are very limited circumstances in which SDA payments may continue for a period of time after a participant no longer physically resides at an enrolled SDA dwelling. A payment for SDA may be made from a participant’s plan even though the participant no longer physically resides at an enrolled SDA dwelling when:

  • the SDA dwelling for the participant is enrolled to house two to five residents; and the participant either:
      1. dies; or
      2. gives notice that he or she will vacate the dwelling; or
      3. is given a notice to vacate because of behaviour that might represent a risk to other residents, to staff or to the participant; or
      4. vacates the dwelling without giving notice or having been given a notice to vacate; and
  • the vacancy is available for a participant and the Agency has been notified.

What Legislation Should I Consider When Building Special Disability Accommodation?

  • Disability (Access to Premises — Buildings) Standards 2010

https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2010L00668

  • NDIS National Disability Insurance Scheme – Rules 2016

https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2017L00209

SDA Rules 2016 (external)

  • (External website)
  • SDA Pricing and Payments
  • SDA Registration and dwelling enrolment
    • the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 (the NDIS Act) and the NDIS Rules under the Act, including the NDIS (Specialist Disability Accommodation) Rules 2016 (SDA Rules) and the NDIS (Specialist Disability Accommodation Conditions) Rule 2018 (SDA NDIS Q&SC Rule);
    • the Terms of Business for Registered Providers (NDIS Terms of Business), including the Specialist Disability Accommodation Addendum;
    • this NDIS Price Guide for SDA; and
    • the general NDIS Price Guide for each jurisdiction.
  • This Price Guide is referred to in the SDA Rules and contains further detail regarding the Design Categories and Building Types described in the SDA Rules and the SDA NDIS Q&SC Rule.
  • This Price Guide also sets out the price limits for particular SDA types and locations, including allowances for features.
  • Further information to assist Providers is available through the NDIS provider toolkit

What Are the Needs That Need to Be Accommodated by Special Disability Accommodation?

A participant meets the SDA assessment criteria if either the participant has an extreme functional impairment and requires an SDA response or the participant has very high support needs most appropriately met by an SDA response.

A participant has an extreme functional impairment if the impairment results in an extremely reduced functional capacity of the participant to undertake one or more of the activities of mobility, self-care or self-management; and the participant has a very high need for person to person supports in undertaking the activity even with assistive technology, equipment or home modifications.

SDA will only be funded in relation to periods when the participant resides in the dwelling. Funding for additional period in certain circumstances when vacancy arises

paragraph applies if  the SDA dwelling for the participant is enrolled to house two to five residents;the participant:

  • Dies;
  • Gives notice that he or she will vacate the dwelling;
  • If notice to vacate has been given because of behaviour that might represent a risk to other residents, staff or to the participant; or vacates the dwelling without giving notice or having been given a notice to vacate; and the vacancy is available for a participant and the Agency has been notified.

As a Developer or Architect, What Does the NDIS Payment Being Distributed to Individuals Mean?

A consumer-driven market Through the NDIS, housing and support is moving from a block funded government-controlled model to an open market. By allocating payments to the individual, rather than directly funding the SDA provider, people with a disability will be able to make choices about their housing. In a consumer-driven SDA market, the current limits of choice and control will be progressively removed as individuals use their SDA payments to choose housing options that best meet their specific goals. A dynamic and flexible housing market will enable people with disabilities to access different options according to their changing needs throughout their lives. In this new market system, providers will focus on improving their value proposition, and success will be tied to the extent to which they are meeting consumers’ housing needs and preferences. In an effective market, providers will compete to deliver the best outcomes for tenants. Providers of quality and innovative housing will be recognised and rewarded. Providers of poor housing and tenancy management will be remediated, sanctioned or go out of business because of high vacancy rates.