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Maintaining a home

House modifications

11 November 2020

Modifying homes for people living with a disability or older Aussies can improve the way they access and move around their home.

Depending on the complexity of their needs, you can make small changes, such as ensuring areas like bathrooms have non-slip surfaces. Or, your home may require retrofitting, such as by widening doors or installing wheelchair ramps .

Provided eligibility requirements are met, there may be government support available to help you with the some of the costs.

What are home modifications?

Home modifications are changes that are made to the home of a person living with a disability, or an older person, so they can safely access and use the areas they need to. For example, adding a ramp or handrail to a bathroom could support a person using a wheelchair, and assist their carer.

When modifying your home, or the home of someone you care for, and you are seeking NDIA support, then there are operational guidelines to be aware of. The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), which oversees the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), is unable to support modifications which don’t meet these guidelines.

How to make modifications

When planning modifications, you’ll probably need to work with an Occupational Therapist who can help you identify the requirements. However, there are a few types of adjustments you can make yourself that can support a person living with a disability or with mobility challenges:

  • Check for slipping or tripping hazards, such as uneven or slippery surfaces and loose carpets. Adding non-slip treatments and mats, and securing carpets and rugs, can help reduce the risk.
  • Install rails and/or ramps in areas that are used regularly, such as bathrooms or the main entrance to the house.
  • Make sure there’s enough lighting. Adequate lighting may reduce potential hazards caused by low visibility, such as tripping. You might consider installing higher watt light bulbs, or adding motion sensor lighting for activation at night.
  • Remove obstructions, ensuring there are clear passageways around the house.
  • Try out furniture. You’ll want to check how comfortable it is and whether it’s easy to use.
  • Make sure emergency support and contact information is accessible, perhaps on the fridge. And have smoke alarms serviced regularly.

If construction is required, engage the support of a qualified builder. For more information about modifications, see the NDIS website.

Where to seek funding support for home modifications

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

The NDIS supports funding for home modifications for children and people under the age of 65 (or 50 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples), depending on the situation.

Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP)

This program provides basic support to Australians over the age of 65 (or 50 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples). It’s designed to support independence in older Aussies, keeping them at home and in their communities for longer. It offers subsidised modifications, such as alarm, rail and ramp installation. There are also Home Care Packages designed for individuals with more complex needs.

Support for veterans

The Rehabilitation Appliances Program assists eligible veterans, war widows and widowers, and dependents based on their mobility and functional support requirements.

State-based support services

In addition to national support organisations, there are also specific services available — depending on your eligibility — in each state or territory. These services range from advocacy to other kinds of support, such as the provision of occupational therapy and home modifications.

Don’t forget about Home and Contents Insurance

If you’re injured at home as a direct result of an insured event, and become permanently paraplegic or quadriplegic, and we have accepted your claim for loss or damage to your home for the insured event, Suncorp Home and Contents Insurance will also cover the reasonable and necessary costs of home modifications:

  • up to $5,000 with Classic cover
  • up to $7,500 with Classic Extras, and
  • up to $10,000 with Classic Advantages.

This coverage includes assistance to make alternative living arrangements if you, or the person you care for, need to move into a more accessible house.

Modifications are likely to change the amount it costs to repair or rebuild a home, so be sure your sum insured (the amount you’ve insured your house and belongings for) reflects any additions you’ve made after you took out your policy. Doing so may help reduce your risk of being underinsured.

Explore Home and Contents Insurance

In line with Suncorp’s Responsible Investing Policy, the Suncorp Group is supporting the Synergis Fund to develop 1,000 specialist accommodation properties for people living with a disability. Over the next five years, the fund will address the under supply of housing for people with disabilities.

Read more:

Insurance is issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as Suncorp Insurance. Consider the Product Disclosure Statement before making a decision about this insurance. This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.

The information is intended to be of general nature only. We do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss incurred as a result of reliance upon it — please make your own enquiries.