Home modifications are custom-built changes to your home to help you access and use areas of your home.
You may need home modifications if you:
have safety concerns or difficulty moving around your home
have trouble with personal care, like using your shower
can’t use the rooms you need to use in your home
have difficulty achieving your goals in your home because of your disability
need changes to your home so your carers can support you safely.
Home modifications can be minor changes or they can be complex.
As with any building work, there are laws and regulations that need to be adhered to when undertaking home modifications under the Scheme.
Minor home modifications
Minor home modifications (MHM) are home modifications that don’t change the structural parts of the home or cost no more than $20,000. We will need an assessment from a suitably qualified occupational therapist on what changes to your home you need.
There are 2 categories of minor home modification:
Category A minor home modifications cost under $10,000
Category B minor home modifications cost between $10,000 and $20,000, or they involve minor modifications to a bathroom floor.
For example, widening an internal doorway that isn’t holding up other parts of the home is likely to be a category A minor home modification.
Complex home modifications
Complex home modifications (CHM) are changes that may involve a few areas in your home. For example, you might need to combine your bathroom and toilet to give you more room to use a hoist or shower chair.
An experienced and/or qualified home modification assessor (specially qualified occupational therapist) must assess your needs at home and certify the effectiveness of the modification to meet your goals and likely future needs, during planning and on completion of the works.
The NDIA will provide funding for a building construction practitioner to work with the participant and home modification assessor to help with planning the recommended scope of works. They can assist participants with the review and appointment of builders, or other suppliers in consultation with the participant.
The NDIA will provide funding for participants to engage a building works project manager for complex home modifications, particularly where it involves high risk or cost. The building works project manager must be independent of any builders who quote for the job.
The NDIA may also fund an independent building certifier, if required.
Related or incidental funding
In some circumstances, the NDIA may fund reasonable and necessary supports that are related or incidental to home modifications.
For example short term rent if you need to move out of your home during building works.
The NDIA will generally fund standard modifications and fittings.
You may opt to use your own money to contribute to a more expensive finish or fixture that achieves the same or equivalent outcome as the supports in your NDIS plan.
For example, a participant funded for a standard vanity unit may prefer a more expensive finish.
In this example the participant pays any additional cost to have the vanity upgraded to their preferred finish.
Contracts or service agreements for home modification services
Contracts or service agreements are particularly important when getting advice/specifications for a home modification and with the provider(s) you choose to do your home modifications. These agreements can help you if there are disputes or problems during (or after) the process.
When you engage a provider to develop drawings, plans or other documents for your planned home modifications, the provider is likely to ask you to sign a contract or terms and conditions (T&C) document for that work. The contract (or T&C) may include who owns the intellectual property rights (IPR) in the drawings, plans or documents. This may provide rights for you or other people you engage to use the drawings, plans or other documents (known as an intellectual property licence).
The ownership and restrictions on the use of the IPR in the drawings, plans or other documents may impact how you can use those documents, such as limiting your ability to provide these to someone else to use to build your modifications. Before signing the contract, you should consider if the IPR ownership and use meet your needs.
If you need help understanding or negotiating any agreement with a provider, you may consider using the Disability Gateway to find a legal service provider that can help you.
Who needs to approve your home modifications?
Before the NDIS can consider funding home modifications in your plan, you need to give the NDIS written approval from the homeowner or relevant bodies. You should give this to them with your home modifications assessment.
The NDIS need written permission from the legal owner of the property or their representative for modifications to be done. They need to authorise the specific modifications recommended for you.
If you are renting, they need to know if your landlord will need the home modifications removed at the end of your lease.
If you have a mortgage, you should check with your mortgage provider if they need to approve the modification.
If you live in a building with shared ownership, such as an apartment complex or a residential community, you’ll need permission from the body responsible, such as the:
The name of the body responsible will depend on your state or territory. The NDIS need this permission, as well as the owner’s permission, before they can fund your home modification.