Home Modification

What is a Home Modification?

"Home Modification" refers to changes made to a home to make daily living easier, lessen the chance of accidents, and support independence. These modifications are often made throughout the lifetime - changes to make a home safer for an infant, adding a ramp when stairs get difficult, etc. Home modifications are about changing the home environment to make life easy, organized, and safe.

  1. Starting the home modification process is easy. First, one will need to assess the home. Links are listed below with more information and sample assessments that one can use for this.

     

     

  1. After assessing the home and a list of projects has been identified one will need to start planning for how to get the projects done. Some projects will not need professional help. Others will need the assistance of a professional contractor. For more information about how to pick the best contractor see the list and links below.

     

    • The Iowa Attorney General and Federal Trade Commission provide guidance for hiring contractors. The best practice steps include
      • Talk to people you know and trust who they have hired for their projects and whether they were satisfied
      • Get estimates/quotes from multiple contractors
      • Check customer references from prior completed projects
      • Verify Registration, Licensing, and Court Records (fraud protection)
      • Avoid paying large sums or the entire job up-front
    • In addition to referrals from trusted family and friends, below are links that have lists of contractors in Iowa. 

    *See additional directories for additional resources that could provide contractor information.

  1. Another important component to making significant home modifications is funding. Depending on the size of the project, whether you rent your home, or if your home is considered real property or manufactured housing, you may want to explore some of the potential funding methods and opportunities:

     

    • Personal Financing Options

      • Personal Savings
      • Home Equity Loans
    • Highlighted Federal Programs

      • USDA Section 504 
        • A single family home repair program for very-low-income homeowners to repair, improve or modernize their homes or grants to elderly very-low-income homeowners to remove health and safety hazards
      • HUD Title I Property Improvement Loan 
        • Insures private lenders against loss on defaulted loans. Property Improvement loans may be used to finance alterations, repairs, and improvements for a home, which includes a manufactured home.
    • Highlighted State of Iowa Program

      • Department of Human Services, Medicaid Elderly Waiver 
        • If enrolled, contact your case manager for information regarding this service. Additional background information can be found in the information packets 
    • Regional (Local Housing Trust Funds, AAA)

      • Local Housing Trust Funds (LHTF) 
        • LHTFs exist to preserve and develop affordable housing.  Although eligibility and focuses vary among the 27 LHTFs in the state, some do offer forgivable loans and low interest loans for home renovation, which could include modifications. 
      • Councils of Government 
        • Sometimes overlapping with LHTFs, these quasi-governmental agencies sometimes have housing and community development programs available.
      • Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) 
        • AAAs respond to the needs of Americans 60 and over and adults with disabilities in the local community. By providing a range of options that allow older adults to choose the home and community-based services and living arrangements that suit them best, AAAs make it possible for older adults to “age in place” in their homes and communities.  Funding for home modifications is limited, and typically limited to very-low income Older Iowans.
    • Counties and Cities

      • Community Development Block Grants (entitlement cities) 
        • Cities with populations over 50,000 may have funding available for low income residents through the CDBG to make home repairs including home modifications. Check the housing development or community development department webpages of these cities.
      • Iowa Economic Development Authority, Community Development Architectural Barrier Removal Program (CDGB non-entitlement cities) 
        • Cities below 50,000 residents may be able to access CDBG funds available from the IEDA.  Assists homeowners that meet or have a family member residing in the residence that meets the definition of elderly (60+) or “Severely Disabled” in removing physical architectural barriers which will allow them to remain in their home.  Families must be at or below 80% of the area median income.  Contacting your city housing department or AAA would be a good starting point for pursuing this funding opportunity.  
    • Private Community Partners