What is Home Modification?
Home modification refers to converting or adapting the environment in order to make performing tasks easier, reduce accidents, and support independent living. Home modification, ranging from low-cost to more expensive adaptations, includes removing hazards (e.g., clutter, throw rugs), adding special features or assistive devices (e.g., grab bars, ramps), moving furnishings, changing where activities occur (e.g., sleeping on the first instead of second floor) and renovations (e.g., installing a roll-in shower). In some cases, modifying the home may also require repairs such as improved wiring to eliminate the need for dangerous extension cords or fixing loose stair treads.
The goals of home modification are to enhance the quality of life for the individual in their home environment, allow them to participate in valued activities, and provide barrier-free access. The concept of “barrier-free accessibility” addresses the notion that a disability is a handicap only if it prevents a person from doing what others are able to do freely. If the barrier is non-existent, so is the handicap
Tim Combs, Executive Director of AFIL has met the qualifications and passed the examination to be qualified as a Certified Environmental Access Consultant. Environmental Access is the process of adapting a residence and/or general environment to promote the independence and functional ability of the physically challenged. Adaptations may include physically changing portions of an environment to create functional access according to an individual’s specific needs. Contact AFIL to make an appointment for Tim to come and assess your environment for a home modification plan.
How can I tell what home modifications are right for me? The best way to begin planning for home modifications is by defining the basic terms used and asking some simple questions. According to the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA), home modifications should improve the following features of a home:
- Accessibility: Improving accessibility means making doorways wider, clearing spaces to make sure a wheelchair can pass through, lowering countertop heights for sinks and kitchen cabinets, installing grab bars, and placing light switches and electrical outlets at heights that can be reached easily. This remodeling must comply with the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, the Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility guidelines, and American National Standards Institute regulations for accessibility. The work must also conform to state and local building codes.
- Adaptability: Adaptability features are changes that can be made quickly to accommodate the needs of seniors or disabled individuals without having to completely redesign the home or use different materials for essential fixtures. Examples include installing grab bars in bathroom walls and movable cabinets under the sink so that someone in a wheelchair can use the space.
- Universal Design: Universal design features are usually built into a home when the first blueprints or architectural plans are drawn. These features include appliances, fixtures, and floor plans that are easy for all people to use, flexible enough so that they can be adapted for special needs, sturdy and reliable, and functional with a minimum of effort and understanding of the mechanisms involved.
- Visability: Visability features include home modifications for seniors who may want to entertain disabled guests or who wish to plan ahead for the day when they may require some extra help in getting around their own homes. For example, installing a ramp to the front door of a house and remodeling the hallways and rooms to allow wheelchair access would make a home easier to visit for disabled family members or friends. Such changes may also give seniors a head start on home modifications they may need later in their lives.
Click Here for AFIL’s Home Modification Checklist
AFIL is an installer of home modification equipment for NuCara in Waterloo, IA. For more information on NuCara and their services and equipment click here.
- Americans for Independent Living Home Modification Certifications
- C.E.A.C. – Certified Environmental Access Consultant
- Member of Accessible Home Improvement of America
Click Here to view AFIL’s certificate of membership
Are you looking for local home care assistance?
Contact Jessica Fairbanks – Owner/Client Care Manager for Home Care Assistance.
The Complete Guide to Home Accessibility Grants: Directory and Tips
The primary focus in this guide is on grants. There are a number of links to organizations that may be able to assist you in paying for your home accessibility needs as well as tips on how to apply for various grants. Grant Guide for Home Accessibility
Disabled veterans and the Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant
The goal of the Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant Program is to provide a barrier-free living environment that gives a disabled veteran a level of independent living that he may otherwise not enjoy. This grant is available if you have a service-connected disability for any of the following:
- The loss or loss of use of both legs so that you can’t move without the aid of braces, crutches, canes, or a wheelchair
- Blindness in both eyes, having only light perception, plus the loss or loss of use of one leg
- The loss or loss of use of one leg together with (1) residuals of organic disease or injury, or (2) the loss or loss of use of one arm, which affects your balance or movement so that you can’t get around without the aid of braces, crutches, canes, or a wheelchair
A residual is doctor-talk for aftereffects. For example, if you had lung cancer that was cured by surgery or radiation, your lungs may still have scarring, which could affect your ability to breathe. Doctors would call this condition a residual of the lung cancer.
- The loss or loss of use of both arms at or above the elbow
- The grant is for severely disabled veterans injured in service on or after September 11, 2001
- Veteran must be entitled to VA compensation for a permanent service-connected disability
- The application must be submitted to the VA prior to September 30, 2017
- The VA is restricted to approving no more than 30 applications for the entire fiscal year
The grant can be used to pay for the construction of an adapted home or modification of an existing home to meet your adaptive needs. The SAH grant is generally used to create a wheelchair-accessible home. This grant is currently limited to $63,780.
Disabled veterans and the Special Home Adaptation (SHA) grant
If you are permanently and totally (100 percent) disabled with a service-connected disability for blindness (vision of no better than 5/200 when corrected with glasses), or you suffer from the anatomical loss or loss of use of both hands or arms below the elbow, you may be eligible to receive a Special Home Adaptation (SHA) grant of up to $12,756.
The residence can be owned by the veteran or a family member. This grant is generally used to assist veterans with mobility throughout their homes.
Disabled veterans and Temporary Residence Adaptation (TRA) grant
If you’re eligible for SAH or SHA, you can use part of that money to modify a family member’s home to fit your needs if you’re temporarily living with her. You can use up to $14,000 of the maximum SAH assistance or up to $2,000 of the maximum SHA assistance for this purpose. TRA grants runs through December 31, 2022.
Disabled veterans and the Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) grant
The Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) grant is available to veterans with service-connected disabilities and those with non-service-connected disabilities. The purpose of the grant is to make any home improvement necessary for the continuation of treatment or for disability access to the home and bathroom facilities. A veteran may receive both a HISA grant and either a SHA or SAH grant.
To be eligible, a VA doctor must indicate that improvements and structural alterations are necessary or appropriate for the effective and economical treatment of your disability. You can receive up to $4,100 if you have a service-connected disability and up to $1,200 if you have a non-service-connected disability.
The HISA program is available for both service-connected veterans and non-service-connected veterans.
- Home improvement benefits up to $6,800 may be provided to service-connected veterans.
- Home improvement benefits up to $2,000 be provided to nonservice-connected veterans
You can apply for the SAH and SHA grants by completing VA Form 26-4555, Veterans Application in Acquiring Specially Adapted Housing or Special Home Adaptation Grant, and submitting it to your local VA regional office.
You can apply for a HISA grant by completing VA Form 10-0103, Veterans Application for Assistance in Acquiring Home Improvement and Structural Alterations, and submitting it to your local VA medical center.