Home modifications are changes to the structure, layout or fittings of a participant’s home so they safely access it and move around comfortably in areas they frequently use.
What the NDIA consider
The NDIA would only consider a home modification if it's the participant’s primary residence and they intend to remain living there. If the participant lives in a rental property a written agreement from the property owner must be provided before any modifications can take place.
Laws and regulatory frameworks
There are several laws and regulatory frameworks, for example Building Codes and Australian Standards, which regulate home modifications.
The NDIA cannot fund home modifications which, if provided, would be contrary to a Commonwealth, state or territory law, see which supports will not be funded or provided under the NDIS.
Therefore, the NDIA must be satisfied there are no laws, regulations or other planning restrictions preventing the home from being modified.
The NDIA must also be satisfied, amongst other matters, the home modification being considered represents value for money in the costs of the support are reasonable and relative to the benefits achieved and the cost of alternative support (section 34(1)(c)).
Determining value for money
When determining whether home modifications represent value for money, the NDIA will specifically consider:
- whether the proposed home modification represents value for money when compared to the cost of other lower cost alternatives. For example, less costly home modifications, which reasonably achieve the same intended benefits or outcomes, or assistive technology;
- whether the proposed home modification is cost effective when compared to the cost of other supports like assistance with the cost of moving to an accessible premises; and
- the expected length of tenure for participants and whether it is adequate compared to the cost of the home modification.
The NDIA must also be satisfied the provision of support will be, or is likely to be, effective and beneficial for the participant, having regard to current good practice (section 34(1)(d)).
Whether the home is suitable to be modified
Before including home modifications in a participant’s plan, the NDIA will also consider whether the home is suitable to be modified, including having consideration to:
- any structural constraints like size, surrounding terrain, or the condition of the building; and
- whether the home owner, and where applicable, any body-corporate, agrees and gives their permission for modifications to be made.
When complex and extensive home modifications are being considered, the NDIA may also fund oversight by a project manager or independent building certifier. This is to ensure modification compliance and a qualified and experienced Occupational Therapist certifies the effectiveness of the modification to meet the participant’s goals and likely future needs.
Generally, the NDIA will fund reasonable and necessary home modifications:
- to a participant’s primary residence where, due to the impact of their disability, they, or their carers, cannot reasonably access and use frequently used rooms and spaces, using standard fixtures and fittings;
- when a participant’s primary residence, in its current condition, has significant and adverse impacts on the sustainability of current living and care arrangements; and
- where a suitably qualified Occupational Therapist has performed an assessment and recommended home modifications, considering all possible alternatives, including the use of equipment.
Incidental home modifications
Generally, the NDIA will also fund reasonable and necessary supports related or incidental to home modifications, which may include:
- assistance with the cost of moving to accessible premises as an alternative to home modifications where this is cost effective to provide access. Generally, it would be expected any new premises selected provides appropriate access and any further modifications would be basic and low cost. Potential covered costs may include:
- costs associated with selling the participant’s current property. For example, advertising, agent fees and legal costs;
- costs associated with the purchase of an alternative property. For example, stamp duty and legal costs;
- removalist costs; and
- minor modifications to install special equipment if necessary.
additional costs incurred if the NDIA recommends or requires the use of qualified builders, trades people, project managers, building certifiers, building assessors or occupational therapists;the costs of normal repairs and maintenance to specialised fittings and assistive technology installed as part of a home modification; and costs related to council or other building approvals, payable as a result of the homes modifications.
The NDIS will generally not fund:
- fixtures, fittings or materials above standard grade;
- modifications to a property brought after a participant was granted NDIS access, unless the NDIA was involved in the decision to purchase the property, or the purchase of a more accessible property was not possible;
- the installation of swimming pools (including hydrotherapy) and spas;
- repairs or remediation of pre-existing home damage, discovered during the modification process;
- any additional insurance premiums payable to insure the property once the home modifications are complete;
- ongoing repairs and maintenance to non-specialised structures, home fixtures or fittings, even when these form part of the modification work. For example, repainting a modified bathroom and maintaining plumbing;
- remediation of work not compliant with the specifications of work, or work which did not comply with the Building Code or relevant Australian Standards (this is the responsibility of the builder);
- for modifications to be removed when a person no longer needs them, except when there has been prior agreement in the case of a rental property;
- home modifications to group homes, residential facilities and other specialist accommodation, or other public buildings, including boarding schools; and
- capital building additions like room additions, further stories, lifts or inclinators, allowing access to multiple levels of a home or steep blocks of land. However, when considering whether the funding of items of this kind is reasonable and necessary, the NDIA will also consider:
- whether other parts of the house can be reasonably organised as an alternative;
- whether more accessible or more easily modified accommodation is available and the cost;
- whether there are compelling factors related to the participant, their family, community or employment, which makes moving unrealistic; and
- the long-term costs and benefits of alternative funded supports against the costs and benefits of the home modifications.
Also see the support most appropriately funded or provided through the NDIS. In particular, housing and community infrastructure.
Home modification suitability
It is generally expected home modifications will be suitable for a participant’s anticipated long-term needs. Therefore, it is unlikely further modifications will be funded for the same premises, except where there are unforeseen and significant changes to a participant’s needs.
Where the NDIA has funded complex or extensive modifications and the participant or their family sells the property, the NDIA expects:
- future premises selected will be as accessible as possible;
- money from the sale of the first property, commensurate with the value of the NDIA funded modifications will be directed towards modifying the participant’s new premises; and
- if there is more than one residence a participant needs to access. For example, if there are shared parenting arrangements or holiday homes, modifications to the second property will be restricted to access and basic hygiene requirements.