Home adaptations

8 mins read

This advice applies across the UK.

An adaptation is a change made to your home to make it more accessible and safer for a disabled person.

In this article

Adapting your home

If you need to adapt your home to make it easier for you or your child to manage, you may be entitled to a Disabled Facilities Grant (or Home Improvement Grant if you live in Scotland).

If you are considering applying for a grant, please seek further help and advice as the system is complex.

Home Improvement Agencies

Some local authorities have a Home Improvement Agency (HIA) service. They can offer practical help for home adaptations and improvements.

The service offered varies but often covers help in:

Some agencies are independent non-profit organisations, some are run by housing associations or private companies, and others operate in-house within a local authority.

You can search the HIA website to see if there is a service in your local authority.

Disabled Facilities Grants in England and Wales

The housing department of your local authority usually pays Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs). To be eligible you must be an owner-occupier, a tenant (private, local authority or housing association) or a landlord with a disabled tenant.

A DFG can include help with the cost of:

A DFG is a mandatory grant. This means you must be given a grant if your local authority is satisfied that the work to your home is both ‘necessary and appropriate’ to meet your disabled child’s needs, and ‘reasonable and practicable’, taking into account the age and condition of the property.

It is important to know that you cannot get a grant for works that have already started.

Does it matter what income I have?

When your child is under 19 years of age, your financial circumstances will not be considered for a grant to meet their needs. The exception is when a young person is getting:

How much can I get?

Currently, the maximum grant is

If costs are over the maximum grant, the local authority has discretion to give a further grant to cover the whole cost of the mandatory works.

How do I apply for a DFG?

Some local authorities use a standard form, which is usually available on their website. If no standard form is required, make your application in writing.

An application for a DFG is only valid if you have provided all the following information:

Your local authority must not refuse to allow you to make a formal application or refuse to give you a grant application form if they use one. If they do, make a formal complaint to the local authority through their complaint procedure. 

Do I need an assessment?

Most local authorities will ask for an assessment from an occupational therapist (OT) or social services to help them decide if the work is ‘necessary and appropriate’ to meet your disabled child’s needs. However, the legislation does not say that an OT assessment is required for a valid application.

Some families tell us about long delays before their formal application is submitted. This is because there are no time limits on how long you may have to wait to for the OT assessment.

Minimising delays

To minimise delays, make a formal application for a grant as soon as you can, so you can get a decision within the six-month time limit. You can do this even if you are still waiting for an OT to visit to do an assessment. 

If there is a long wait for an OT assessment in your area, and the adaptions needed are not complex, such as an additional room, seek advice and consider making a formal complaint about the delay.

What about building or other regulations?

To decide if your request for adaptations is ‘reasonable and practicable’ the local authority will ask for an assessment from an environmental health officer or a building surveyor. The local authorities tend to use members of their own staff where possible.

You may also need to get approval for building regulations, planning, listed buildings or conservation areas purposes. Your local authority has the right to ask for these, but it should not use them to go over the six-month time limit for assessing a claim.

How long will it take to get a DFG?

Your local authority must decide if you are entitled to a DFG within six months of receiving your valid application.

Help with repairs

Local authorities can also use their discretion to give financial and other assistance for improvements or repairs to your home. This can be a grant, loan, labour, relocation expenses, materials or advice. Contact your local authority to find out how this applies in your area.

If the local authority discretion does not meet the additional or full cost of the works, you could see if any charitable trusts could help. Search the online grants search from Turn2Us.

When does the work have to be carried out?

If your application is successful, the grant will usually only be paid if the work is carried out within 12 months of the date the application is approved.

If your application is not approved, seek advice, about making a formal complaint.

Read the Government Guidance on Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG) for local authorities in England.

The Scheme of Assistance in Scotland

In Scotland, mandatory grants are available to homeowners and private tenants under a process called the Scheme of Assistance.

What can I get a grant for?

Local councils provide these grants for works essential to meet the needs of a disabled person, including adaptions to allow a disabled person to access amenities such as a toilet, bath, shower or sink. 

Grants are also available to help with the costs of adaptions to common areas of the building, to make it more suitable. Local councils may require an OT assessment to assess if these adaptions are essential.

How much does the grant cover?

A grant must cover at least 80 per cent of approved costs, unless you are in receipt of means-tested benefits. The council can also use discretion and pay a grant of 100% of the eligible costs.

There is no upper limit on the amount of a grant, but it is limited by the amount required to meet the assessed needs of a disabled person.

What if I live in social housing?

Local council and housing association tenants may also qualify for assistance making their home more suitable. The council must assess major works as “necessary” to carry them out for free.

Contact your local council about making a grant application.

You can find further advice about help to pay for adaptations on Shelter Scotland’s website.

Disabled Facilities Grants in Northern Ireland

A Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) helps to adapt the home of a disabled person. It is based on the recommendation of an occupational therapist.

DFGs are paid by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive in Northern Ireland. To apply you must be an owner occupier, private tenant or landlord.

A DFG can include help with the cost of:

How much can I get?

The maximum amount of grant is £25,000, although the Housing Executive has discretion to increase the grant award.

Do I need an assessment?

Yes, only works recommended by your local occupational therapist (OT), are usually considered for a grant. The OT will look at the family home and circumstances, then they will recommend the type of adaptations needed.

How do I apply?

Your local Health and Social Services Trust can provide information and help you to start the process.

Read further information on DFG’s from the Northern Ireland government.

You can get advice from Radius, an organisation providing free support and advice for people in Northern Ireland applying for a Disabled Facilities Grant.