An introduction to home adaptations

This page looks at how you can work out what kind of adaptations you'd benefit from, how you can get help paying for adaptations and what you can do if it isn't possible to adapt your home.

How do I get started?

Before you get adaptations done, you need to consider the kind of adaptations you need, and whether or not you need permission to carry them out.

What kind of adaptations do I need?

Adaptations can range from simple aids such as accessible taps and door handles to more complex building projects such as installing a wet room or stairlift. If you need any advice on the kind of adaptations available, you can contact your local social work department and ask to see an occupational therapist (see 'do I need to get social work involved' below) or get advice from a disability advice centre such as a Centre for Independent Living or Disabled Persons Housing Service - use the directory at the Update website to find a centre near you. If there is a Care and Repair service in your area, you may be able to get advice from there as well.

You can find out more about adaptations and specialist equipment for disabled people at the Disability Living Foundation.

Do I need permission to make adaptations?

If you rent your home from the council, a housing association or a private landlord, you will need to ask your landlord's permission before carrying out any adaptations that alter the property. However, your landlord can't refuse your request unreasonably. Read the pages on adaptations in council and private rented accommodation to find out more.

If you own your home, you may need to get a building warrant or planning permission in order to carry out the work.

Adaptations to common areas 

If you live in a property with a shared common area then you may be able to get the property adapted to better meet your needs. You will have to get consent from the majority of affected owners. 

This process applies to you if you are a disabled person and a: 

  • owner, 

  • tenant or a 

  • resident with permission of the tenant or owner. 

The property that you are wanting to adapt must be your only or main home. 

Adaptations include alteration or addition to: 

  • any common parts which afford a means of access to the premises, or 

  • to make the premises suitable for the accommodation or welfare of a disabled person

The Scottish Government has produced a guide for adapting common areas.

Can I get help paying for adaptations?

If you need to make adaptations to your home, you may be able to get a grant from the council to cover some or all of the cost. Contact the council for further information and an application form. You can find contact details on your council's website.

If you are disabled, you may also be able to get a grant from the council's social work department. Contact the council to find or check out their website to find out more.

You can find out more about financial help for adaptations available to elderly and disabled people.

Do I need to get social work involved?

If you're thinking about getting adaptations carried out, you may find it helpful to get advice from an occupational therapist or health worker, as they will be able to suggest equipment that will help you get the most out of your home. However, you don't need to get social work involved if you don't want to.

If you are elderly or disabled and need help with day-to-day living in your home, you can ask the social work department to carry out a care assessment.

What is a care assessment?

A care assessment is an evaluation of your personal and medical situation and any care needs you may have. The assessment will look at how you cope with day-to-day living, and the social work department will then recommend help or equipment that might make life easier for you to live in your home.

This could include:

  • getting some help with cooking, cleaning or other household tasks

  • putting up hand rails to help you get about

  • widening doors for wheelchair access

  • adapting your kitchen to suit your needs, for example by lowering the work tops or installing levered handles and taps

  • installing a new bathroom.

Social work will then either provide what you need, or help you make the adaptations yourself.

What if I can't adapt my current home?

You may not be able to adapt your current home if:

  • you rent your home and your landlord has a good reason to refuse you permission to make the changes

  • it's not practically possible - for example if you live on the fifth floor of a building with no lift or you can't widen the corridors for a wheelchair

  • it's too expensive and you can't get a grant or loan to help with the cost.

If this is the case, you may have no choice but to move to different accommodation. This might involve:

If you need housing advice, contact us for free.

Last updated: 2 March 2020

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

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