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Maintaining or adapting your home

Major adaptations to your home

Adaptations to consider
To make adaptations to your home you will need to seek specialist advice from trained health and social care professionals, equipment providers, or qualified builders and tradespeople. The following are just some of the adaptations which could make your home more suitable for you.

Being able to carry on getting up and down your stairs may make all the difference between staying in your current home or needing to move on elsewhere. Installation of a stairlift could be the answer.

Age UK provides advice on installing a stairlift, and can put you in touch with a reputable supplier.

Access ramps and wheelchair lifts
If you have to use special equipment such a wheelchair and have small numbers of steps within your home from one room to another you might want to consider installing an access ramp to your home. The type of ramp you will need will depend on the size of the step you want to overcome and the type of equipment you use.

There are many suppliers that can provide access ramps including The Wheelchair People.

For some wheelchair users ramps and stairlifts may not be the solution. You may need to look at installing a wheelchair lift to help you negotiate steps. These can be particularly useful if you have a flight of steps up to the front door of your property.

Ability Matters Lifts and Stannah are two of many offering specialist provision on lifts for wheelchair users.

Heating and lighting
Some health conditions and disabilities may make you particularly vulnerable to cold or to sudden changes in temperature, and it may be that you need a different or more reliable heating system to manage this.

If you have to use a wheelchair to get around you may find that you can no longer reach the controls for your heating and lighting systems, and that these will need to be moved or replaced by something more suitable.

Changes to the layout of your home
If parts of your home are no longer suited to your needs, or you are at risk of an accident when getting about within your home, you may want to consider undertaking building works to change the layout of your property. This could include:

  • widening doorways so that you can use a wheelchair
  • replacing your bath or shower unit with a level-access shower, or changing your toilet
  • adding a downstairs toilet or bathroom so that you don't have to keep using the stairs
  • installing low level kitchen units
To make these changes you will need advice from qualified builders on what to do.

Large Schemes
For larger repairs, improvements and adaptations Sutton Staying Put can offer help and advice, including a one stop service to oversee larger schemes from start to finish. It will give a totally confidential and personal service providing support throughout the process. For more detailed information, see below.

Choosing builders and handypersons
Family Mosaic Home Improvement Agencies provides practical support, advice, adaptations, small handyperson jobs and information for older or disabled people. It can help with planning, organising qualified, fully insured surveyors, getting written estimates from trusted contractors and supervise the works along with looking into disabled facilities or other grants to help fund the work. Its handy people can come to your home to fix that washer, re-attach that curtain rail or put up those shelves. All staff are fully trained and checked by the Criminal Records Bureau so you can trust that they will do a good job at a fair price.

If you want to arrange the work yourself there are many private companies which are able to undertake adaptations to your home. Once you know what you want to have done and roughly how much you are prepared to pay you can search online or use Yellow Pages or Which? Local to help you choose.

It's important to choose a reliable builder whose charges are reasonable. Services like Which? Local and Rated People allow you to look for builders near you and read reviews from previous customers, so that you can find out what other people think about the quality of the work and service.

If the builder you want to use doesn't have reviews online, you can ask them to provide testimonials from previous customers so you feel reassured they will do a good job.

There are always a few tradespeople out there who try to take advantage of their customers or fail to provide an adequate service; before you make a final decision on whom to use you may want to look at our page on scams, rogue traders and bogus callers.

Support from your council
You can contact Social Services for an assessment of your needs to see if you are eligible for support from the council to make adaptations to your home. If appropriate they will probably arrange for an occupational therapist to carry out an assessment to see what adaptations might be suitable.

If you're eligible they may be able to advise you on possible adaptations, assist you with arranging adaptations and applying for a Disabled Facilities Grant, or recommend some approved suppliers.

Sutton Staying Put
Sutton Staying Put, the council's in-house home improvement agency, runs a minor home repairs" scheme to assist disabled or vulnerable people within the Borough with specialist repairs around the home that larger contractors may not want to do.

You may be eligible for financial help if:
  • you are aged 50 or over and in receipt of an income related benefit you will need to pay the full cost of materials and make a very small contribution towards labour costs
  • you are not on income related benefits, but have limited savings, and, depending on your Council Tax Band, you may be eligible for some help towards labour costs
  • you, or a member of your household is under 50 and in receipt of Disabled Living Allowance

If you, or the works you require, do not qualify for this scheme, we may still be able to help by introducing a reliable contractor, obtaining estimates and generally supporting you throughout the entire process subject to an administration fee dependant on the scale of works required. For more detailed information, call 020 8409 7061 or email sue.bennett@sutton.gov.uk.

Other information and advice
Independent Age provides a guide called Adapting your home to stay independent.

Age UK has a guide called Adapting your home.