A Westport Renovation

Westport Flooding

Earlier this year the West Coast of the South Island was hit with a one in 100-year flooding event.

Two hundred homes in the town of Westport were deemed uninhabitable.

One of these is the home of the mother of our Design Partner, Henry, at Gud Collective.

Luckily Henry and a team of builders are on the job down there renovating the home.

Builders at work in Westport

Henry is importantly considering elements of Universal Design for the reno, as he looks to create a home that allows his mum to age in place.

Making sure door handles and light switches are aligned is an important element

One critical element of Universal Design being implemented in this reno is wall reinforcing with nogging (dwang is the term for nogging in some parts of New Zealand), to enable future grab rail installation.

Henry says

“One HUGE thing, that is always forgotten is, NOG NOG NOG…!! The smallest thing can make the greatest difference. In our case the previous owner before my mum, was a retired double amputee. The walls were not nogged. The installed grab rail was screwed into plasterboard and coming off the wall. This provided no support. Even the heated towel rail was coming off the wall.

It costs no more to take a little care to nog and future proof your bathroom, so it can deliver to a user’s changing needs.”

Reinforcing walls is a great way to future proof for grab rails in the bathroom.

We asked Henry: Why do you think it’s so important to get a bathroom right from a Universal Design perspective?


“Bathrooms are the one area that will define the usability of the house. Other areas are perhaps more easily adaptable, and to negotiate but a bathroom that isn’t future-proofed, is going to be costly. Limited safety will define how long the house is usable to live in.

If you develop mobility issues, then design comes to the forefront. You simply can’t use the area any longer. In my mum’s case we had constant reminders of this.”

Previous shower in Henry’s mum’s bathroom

The original bathroom included, a ‘shower over the bath’ which can be hard to navigate with age and changing mobility.

It created trip hazards, not to mention the knob-style tapware that was always hard to turn off properly (and dripped), and a slippery lino floor.

“Over-all the bathroom was a bit of a disaster waiting to happen.” Says Henry.


Henry’s remedies and new vision for the reno include…

A glass partitioned walk-in shower, slip resistant tiles from the Tile Depot (a Lifemark® Product Partner), lever handle tapware and shower mixer, colour contrast, a clear space under the vanity to enable usage while seated, an innovative Jesani shower channel (a Lifemark® approved product) and of course nogged walls for the install from another Lifemark® Product Partner’s Universal and Accessible Bathroom Design, grab rails.

The finished design, “STUNNING” says Henry. We’re looking forward to seeing it come to fruition!

Henry masked up and ready to reno

Universal Design is very important to consider in home design especially on the West Coast where 29 % of the population is 60+.

To follow Henry’s Reno Progress…click here… and for Lifemark® UD Bathroom reno tips …click here..

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