chapter  2
Disability, design and the speculative house-building industry
Pages 23

One of the important elements in understanding the interrelationships between housing quality and disability relates to the processes of production and provision of dwellings. Such processes are characterized by a complexity of social, technical and legal relationships that collectively condition the attitudes and actions of builders and other professionals in relation to the design and construction of dwellings. Competitive strategies of house builders revolve around the purchase of land, and the attempt to realize profit through land and house price inflation. Because of the high costs involved in the process, builders are reluctant to change tried and tested design, or to increase costs by recourse to customized production. Rather, the production of dwellings is driven by risk-averse least-cost strategies that reflect, in part, the tight profit margins of the house-building industry. This usually results in the perpetuation of standardized design packages or, as Carmona (2001: 125) aptly observes, ‘the unique market circumstances in which house building occurs will continue to ensure the widely accepted (even amongst many house builders) devaluing of design . . .’.