Home adaptations

Home adaptations are changes that you can make to your home to make your day-to-day life easier.

This might include installing ramps, if you’re a wheelchair user, or grab rails for your bathroom. 

This brief guide explains the basics about getting a home assessment from the council, applying for a Disabled Facilities Grant and making adaptations to your home. 

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Getting help with adaptations to your home

There are various ways you can get support with paying for home adaptations if you’re disabled, or you care for someone who is. 

Support from the council

If you need to adapt your home because you are disabled, your local authority might be able to help. 

Different local authorities approach this differently. How much funding or support is available will depend on where you live. 

If you live in England or Wales, use this postcode finder to check what support is available in your area.

Getting a home assessment

Usually, you’ll need to start the process by getting a home assessment. Start by contacting your local authority’s adult social care team. 

A home assessment is separate to a needs assessment. Find out more about getting an assessment of your needs to access care and support. 

There is sometimes a long waiting list to get an assessment. 

The assessment will be free. An occupational therapist will visit your home, look around and ask you questions to understand what you find difficult. 

At the end of it, you will be given recommendations of changes you could make to your home to improve your day-to-day life. 

If the recommended changes cost less than £1,000, your council should be able to pay for them. In some areas, you might be able to get small, urgent home adaptations without needing an assessment first.

If the recommended changes cost more than £1,000, you can apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant to help with the cost. 

Disabled Facilities Grants

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, local councils offer grants for home adaptations. These are called Disabled Facilities Grants. 

Find out more about other grants for disabled people.

What is a Disabled Facilities Grant?

A Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) is a grant to help with the cost of adaptations to your home if you are disabled.

DFGs are available for both disabled adults and disabled children. 

What can a Disabled Facilities Grant be used for?

DFGs can be used towards the cost of home adaptations that will cost more than £1,000. 

They cannot be used to pay for work that has already started.

While smaller adaptations (under £1,000) should be paid for by your council, a DFG could go towards bigger adaptations such as:

  • Installing a walk-in shower or stairlift. 
  • Widening your doorways.
  • Building an extension.

The council must be satisfied that the work is necessary to meet the needs of the disabled person, and reasonable given the state and age of the property.

Can I get a Disabled Facilities Grant if I have savings?

DFGs are means-tested. This means that the local council will look at your financial situation (including savings) when they decide if you’re eligible, and how much you’ll receive. 

The first £6,000 of household savings is not counted in the means-test.

If you have savings above £6,000 that could pay for your home adaptations, you’re unlikely to get a DFG.

Each local authority has its own rules on calculating the amount you’re entitled to. 

Do you have to pay back a Disabled Facilities Grant?

Normally, you don’t have to repay a DFG.

You might have to repay some of the grant if all of the following apply:

  • You receive a grant of more than £5,000.
  • You own your house.
  • You move house within 10 years of receiving the grant.

Applying for a Disabled Facilities Grant

Once you’ve had a home assessment, you can start the DFG application process by asking your local authority for an application form. 

The grant should be applied for by the owner, tenant or landlord of the property. 

You’ll need to submit the form along with proof that you are the owner or tenant of the property, and that a disabled person lives there.

You need to apply for any planning permission separately. 

You should receive a decision from your local authority within six months. 

Support from the NHS

In emergency situations, the NHS might be able to help with adaptations to your home. 

This is usually only the case if the proposed changes will mean that you can be at home rather than in the hospital. 

These tend to be smaller, temporary adaptations, such as a temporary wheelchair ramp. 

Other sources of support

You may be able to get a grant from a charity to put towards the cost of home adaptations. 

Some organisations to look at include:

You can also look for Home Improvement Agencies in your area. HIAs are local organisations that are dedicated to supporting disabled and older people to live independently. 

They might be able to help you find other sources of funding.

Landlord obligations to disabled tenants

If you rent your home from a private landlord, you need to get permission from them before you make any changes to the property. 

They should not refuse permission for you to have small, temporary adaptations or equipment in your home. The law calls these “auxiliary aids”. 

Auxiliary aids might include:

  • A special doorbell or door entry system.
  • Accessible taps or door handles.
  • Temporary grab rails that don’t need to be screwed into the wall. 
  • A bath board.

However, if you want to make any more significant or permanent changes to the property, your landlord has the right to say no, within reason. 

They don’t have to allow you to carry out work that could permanently change the property or affect its value. 

But if you want to make permanent adaptations, you can still ask your landlord. It helps to have an assessment first, so you can show the occupational therapist’s report on what you need. 

Your landlord might say yes to the work if they want you to stay in their property, or if they think the work will improve the property.

They might also be more likely to say yes if you can show that you would be able to get a Disabled Facilities Grant to pay for the work. 

Examples of home adaptations

These are just a few examples of ways you can adapt your home to make day-to-day living easier. 

Walk-in showers and baths

If you have mobility issues, you might be interested in installing a walk-in shower or bath in your bathroom. 

This can help make sure that you can get in and out of the shower or bath independently, and lower your risk of injuring yourself by slipping or falling.

Stair lifts

Wheelchair users may need to have a stair lift in their home. 

A stair lift is a motorised lift that can carry you safely up and down stairs. 

This helps wheelchair users to access different floors of the building.

Wheelchair ramps

You can install either temporary or permanent wheelchair ramps to improve access to your home.

If you want to install a permanent ramp in your rental home, you will need to get permission from your landlord. 

Grab rails

Grab rails are rails that are attached to the wall for you to grab onto as you move around. 

You might particularly see grab rails in bathrooms, where they can support people with mobility issues to move around with a lower risk of slipping and falling. 

If you don’t have permission to make permanent changes to your rental home, there are temporary grab rails you can install without needing to use screws.

Auxiliary aids and household gadgets

Auxiliary aids are temporary adaptations and pieces of equipment that can help you around the home. 

There are lots of household gadgets available for disabled people, from doorbells and alarms for people with hearing loss, to bath boards. 

Find out more about assistive technology for people with sight loss and assistive technology for people with hearing loss. 

Get more information on auxiliary aids and household gadgets from Living Made Easy.

Get in touch

Get in touch for more information and advice about living independently.

This content was last reviewed in November 2023. We’ll review it again in 2025.