What Is Home Modification?

A home modification is any alteration made to a home to meet the needs of people who have different physical abilities, often to specifications outlined by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). These alternations are made so that disabled or differently-abled people can live independently and safely.

Examples of home modifications include simple measures like removing throw rugs to prevent slips and falls to more permanent fixtures like installing wheelchair-accessible ramps or grab bars in the bathrooms for stability.

Key Takeaways

  • A home modification is any alteration made to a home to meet the needs of people who have different physical abilities.
  • Examples of home modifications include removing throw rugs to prevent slips and falls or installing grab bars in the bathroom for stability.
  • While in some cases, home modifications might also be considered a home improvement or renovation, home modifications specifically refer to alterations made to a home in order to make it more accessible for people with different physical abilities, including elderly people.

How a Home Modification Works

A home modification can refer to a range of changes, alterations, and repairs that make a home more livable for individuals with different physical abilities. The price of home modifications can be as little as a few hundred dollars, although more extensive renovations can cost many thousands of dollars.

For larger projects, some financing options may be available. Some contractors even offer reduced rates and charge sliding-scale fees based on a senior’s income and ability to pay. The National Resource Center on Supportive Housing and Home Modifications is one of the best resources in the U.S.— it offers training, education courses, and technical assistance.

Because of the breadth of the term, some people may think that home modifications include any type of home improvement or home renovation. While in some cases, home modifications might also be considered a home improvement or renovation, home modifications specifically refer to alterations made to a home in order to make it more accessible for people with different physical abilities, including elderly people.

The ADA established standards for accessible design for public accommodations that include creating automatic doorways, ramps, and elevators to accommodate wheelchairs. Water fountains must be made available at heights that individuals with disabilities can reach.

Home Modifications for the Elderly

Many homes may not be equipped to house individuals as they age. There are structural barriers that can impinge upon an older individual’s independence, and make it so they are unable to go about their daily routines without assistance. Many homes older adults live in single-family homes that were built in a time when physical accessibility was not a consideration.

Even now, there are few building requirements concerning physical accessibility in single-family homes. The structural incompatibility can make it impossible for an individual to stay in their own home as they grow older, sometimes forcing them to move into a retirement home. If the individual decides to stay in their home, they may need to hire a caretaker, an ongoing expense many people cannot afford.

Other Examples of Home Modifications

Home modifications range in price and project scope. Some of the most common include larger digital displays for computers, temperature controls, easy-to-use fixtures for light switches or faucets, grab bars or rails, door openers, security systems, wheelchair ramps or stairlifts, and walk-in tubs.