Is your home a safe and accessible environment for you based on your disability needs? If not, you may be eligible for minor or complex home modifications to be made to your residence. Find out the difference between minor and complex home modifications, which providers can help and whether the NDIS can fund your home modifications.
What are Home Modifications?
Home modifications are changes to the structure, layout, or fittings of a participant’s home to ensure they live in a safe, accessible, and mobility friendly home environment. These changes can range from something simple like a widening a doorway to more complex like significant structural changes to the 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 pursuing your goals in your home because of your disability
Need changes to your home so your carers can support you safely
Home modification funding, if approved, is included in your Capital Supports Budget under Home Modifications. This budget is not flexible which means the funding provided can only be used for its intended purpose.
The NDIS has two categories for home modifications depending on the cost and risk level - Minor Home Modifications and Complex Home Modifications.
Minor Home Modifications
Minor home modifications are typically non-structural, low-risk, low-cost changes to your home. The NDIS has two minor home modification categories:
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
To get minor home modifications included in your plan, the NDIS require evidence showing that the modifications meet the reasonable and necessary criteria, and that you have the relevant approvals for your home modifications.
For Category A, an occupational therapist can do your assessment.
For Category B, a home modifications assessor is needed to complete your assessment (more on home modification assessors below).
Complex Home Modifications
Complex home modifications are usually structural, custom-built changes to your home that typically are higher risk and/or higher cost than minor home modifications.
Complex home modifications usually need building approvals or permissions, and
certification of work such as plumbing and electrical works. Complex home modifications often mean that you will need to live elsewhere for several weeks while the modifications are being completed.
Examples of complex home modifications include:
Permanent ramps that cost over $10,000 and need building permit approval
Structural modifications to a bathroom, including changing the floor to create a stepless shower
Extensive electrical or plumbing works
Removing or changing load-bearing walls
Elevators or lifts that cost over $10,000 and need building permit approval
Any works that need building consultancies such as engineering, architecture, quantity surveying, building surveying or building certification
The NDIS may also consider home modifications to be complex when:
A large part of your home needs to be modified
It will take a long time (months) to complete the work, which affects your ability to live at home
The modifications are non-structural but are extensive or cost over $20,000 (based on MMM1 location costs in the minor home modifications set NDIS budget).
Whether a change is considered structural or non-structural can depend on which state or territory you live in
All complex home modifications need a home modifications assessor to review your situation.
Will the NDIS Fund my Home Modification?
The NDIS has funding criteria called ‘Reasonable and Necessary’. To have home modification funding included in your NDIS plan, you will need to meet those criteria.
When you have your plan reassessment, your Local Area Coordinator (LAC) or NDIA planner will ask questions to better understand your home modification needs. They may ask things like:
Does the home modification relate to your disability?
Will the home modification help you pursue your goals?
Will the home modification help you take part in social and work life?
Are the home modifications effective and beneficial to you?
Is the home modification legal and safe?
Should the home modification be funded or provided by another service?
Is the home modification value for money?
Top tip: Consider these questions prior to your plan reassessment and bring any relevant documentation to the meeting as evidence to support your home modification needs.
What Home Modifications won’t the NDIS fund?
The NDIS typically won’t fund the following features:
Cosmetic finishes for fixtures, fittings, or materials (i.e., tiles or tapware)
Swimming pools and spas, including hydrotherapy
Modifications that make your house bigger (i.e., adding another storey)
Repairs to pre-existing damage to your home outside the immediate area where you need home modifications
Insurance premiums to insure your home after it has been modified
Standard living costs or routine repairs and maintenance that landlords or homeowners are usually responsible for
Fixing home modifications that don’t comply with the National Construction Code or relevant Australian standards
Top tip: All funding, including any home modification funding, must be reasonable and necessary to be approved. To better understand what is considered reasonable and necessary, check out our downloadable reasonable and necessary checklist here.
How Providers can help & their roles
You will need different provider throughout different stages of your home modification process, including:
An occupational therapist or home modification assessor for your assessment
A building construction practitioner and/or building works project manager for your building consultation (depending on the type of modification)
A builder to provide you with quotes and to complete the home modification
Top Tip: While the NDIS recommends sourcing a provider who will provide quotes free of charge, your Core funding can be used to cover the cost of obtaining quotes
Home modification assessors are occupational therapists who are qualified to recommend home modification supports. They can review your home modification needs and explain how they relate to your disability and goals and identify if you’ll need any additional supports while your home modifications are being completed. When your home modification is complete, they may review they outcome or for complex home modifications they may complete another assessment.
Top Tip: Make sure your home modification assessor is independent from your builder to avoid conflict of interest.
Building Construction Practitioners are professionals who have building knowledge and expertise to provide you with advice on the design and cost of the modifications, outline the work required, and provide drawings for the builder to better understand the project and provide more accurate quotes.
Building Works Project Managers are typically required for more complex home modifications because the work is considered higher risk. They can help you to understand your building contract and to communicate with your builder.
Top Tip: Make sure your Building Works Project Manager is independent from your builder.
Builders are the people who construct your home modifications. They are responsible for meeting all legal and administrative requirements and making sure the building site is safe when home modifications are in progress. Any errors must be repaired by them.
If you need help finding providers to assist you and provide the necessary information for the NDIS, you can reach out to your support coordinator (if relevant), your LAC or your plan manager.
Top Tip: Make sure to set your expectations and your provider’s responsibilities in a written agreement to ensure you are both on the same page.
Read more about the benefits of working with an independent, professional Plan Manager. Alternatively, contact our friendly team on 1300 322 273 or firstname.lastname@example.org.