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Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Adapting your home

If you need improvements and adaptations to your home to help you continue to live independently there, you can ask the social services department of your local council to do an assessment of your home.

Usually, an occupational therapist will assess what adaptations are appropriate to meet your needs. If they agree that you need adaptations to your home, you will be awarded a Disabled Facilities Grant.

Disabled Facilities Grants

Local councils have to give Disabled Facilities Grants to eligible applicants to make houses suitable for disabled people. Depending on your financial circumstances, you may be expected to pay some of the costs.

Disabled Facilities Grants are available to owners and tenants in both private and social housing subject (in England) to a limit of £25,000.

Grants can be used on any adaptation that will make it easier for the disabled person to get into and around the home, or to provide adapted facilities or equipment.

Extra help that may be available

Sometimes, local councils may provide assistance such as low cost loans as well as grants to private homeowners and others to help renovate, repair or adapt their home.

They may also provide other sorts of assistance, for example helping someone move to more suitable accommodation if this would provide a similar benefit to improving or adapting the existing accommodation.

For more information, contact the Environmental Health or Housing Department of your local council.

VAT relief

Disabled people do not have to pay VAT on the cost of some building work involved in adaptations to their homes. If an adaptation qualifies for VAT relief, the work done to prepare for the adaptation and the work done to tidy up afterwards is also free from VAT.

Council Tax reduction

If you adapt your home so that you, or another disabled person, can live there, you may be eligible for a one-band reduction on your Council Tax. This is particularly useful if the value of your property has increased in value as a result of the adaptation work, but it applies even if this is not the case.

Supporting People Programme

Supporting People is a government programme that provides housing-related support to help vulnerable people live as independently as possible in the community, whether in their own homes or in supported housing.

Getting work done

Home Improvement Agencies

You may be able to get help from a Home Improvement Agency with arranging for adaptation work to be carried out. They are not-for-profit organisations, which are often managed locally by councils or housing associations. They can:

  • give free advice about what work needs to be done
  • offer support to tenants who want to adapt their homes
  • arrange to have small adaptations and equipment installed
  • organise larger adaptation work
  • sort out finances
  • find a surveyor, architect or builder
  • keep an eye on how the work is progressing

Foundations is the national co-ordinating body for Home Improvement Agencies in England. For Scotland, it is Care & Repair Forum Scotland and for Wales it is Care & Repair Cymru. Go to the appropriate website to find details of agencies in your area.

Planning permission and building regulations

It's important to get planning permission and find out about building regulations before you begin any major building alterations. The following links will let you enter details of where you live and then take you to your local authority website where you can find out more.

Choosing tradespeople and builders

If you decide to hire a tradesperson or builder yourself, it's important to choose someone who operates legally and is qualified for the job. You can find information about choosing a builder in the home and community section of Directgov.

Additional links

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