Accessible Homes: Finding a home that works for you

Accessible Homes

Accessible housing is housing that is suitable for people living with disabilities. It makes life easier and more comfortable. Some accessible home adaptations include wide doorways, grab bars, single story living, and wet rooms. What home adaptations are necessary depends on the needs of the individual and the impact their disability has on the tasks they want to accomplish.

Housing that was either designed in an accessible manner or has been adapted to be accessible only accounts for around 9% of the housing stock in the UK. Even homes that have some accessible features may not have all the necessary features. This means finding an accessible home might mean finding a property that can be adapted to meet the needs of the disabled person living there.

There are three important considerations in finding a house that can be made accessible- what adaptations are necessary, is the house suitable for adapting, and what does it cost. An occupational therapist, surveyor, and the council can help answer these questions, although the person who will be living in the house is the ultimate expert on their needs.

What are Home Adaptations

Home adaptations are changes you can make to your home. These make it safer and easier to move around and do everyday tasks. These changes can be small or big and include:

  • fitting a stairlift or a banister on the stairs
  • adding a bath lift, walk-in shower or a rail you hold to pull yourself out of the bath (grab rail)
  • widening doorways
  • lowering kitchen worktops
  • putting in an outdoor ramp or step rail
  • security, such as outside lights and intercom systems

By using the , you will be guided through some of the options available to you and will receive suggestions on the home adaptations you might want to make to have an accessible home.

What types of home adaptations are available?

Everyone has different requirements when it comes to the types of adaptations that can be made. For instance, wheelchair users will likely need ramps and they may also benefit from lower work surfaces in the kitchen so they can reach everything more easily.

Essentially all home adaptations fall into one of two categories:

Major work – this work generally involves building work and alterations to the property. Examples include building an extension and putting in a ground floor toilet.

Minor work – this area encompasses all the smaller jobs that don’t take as long to complete. For example, you might have grab rails installed to make using the bathroom easier. Another example would be installing a ramp so you can manoeuvre a wheelchair from outside into your home without tackling any steps.

What houses can be made accessible?

Whether you are looking to adapt your current home, to purchase and refurbish another property or are building something from the ground up, a surveyor can help you decide whether a property can be made accessible and support you through the process, helping to restore quality of life.

Surveyors can undertake an initial assessment of an existing property and advise whether there is scope for adaptation, working alongside Occupational Therapists and other health professionals to provide advice to suit the individual's requirement. A feasibility study will give a detailed indication of which adaptations may be possible and the potential costs of these, which allows families to fully consider the options available to them.

Once feasibility has been established, surveyors are able to offer expert knowledge and guidance in respect of adaptation and modification of properties such as the preparation of scaled drawings, securing the necessary statutory approvals such as Planning Permission and Building Regulations approval, detailing comprehensive tender documents and obtaining tender prices, sourcing and appointing Building Contractors and supervising the construction work. Surveyors can oversee the process from inception to completion, supporting people living with disabilities and delivering an accessible home.

Find your local RICS approved Surveyor for accessible home to start the process for an accessible home.

Funding available for home adaptations

Housing grants called - Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG)- are available from local authorities. The rules for Disabled Facilities Grants can be quite complicated, but here’s what you need to know.


The grant is for people with a permanent disability of any sort, including physical disabilities, learning disabilities, sensory impairments and mental illness.


The grant can pay for a range of adaptations including:

  • Ramps
  • Stairlifts
  • Through Floor Lifts
  • Ceiling Track Hoists
  • Wider Doors
  • Walk-in Shower
  • Accessible Toilet
  • Accessible Kitchen Facilities
  • Improved Heating
  • Accessible Controls
  • Safety Features

Your Council will assess what you need and whether your home is suitable to be adapted. This assessment often includes a visit from a member of the occupational therapy team from social care.

You can ask an agent to help you with the process. For a list of approved Home Improvement Agencies check out

If there’s a long waiting list for an assessment, ask if you can use a private Occupational Therapist and include the cost in your grant application.


The DFG is means tested, so the more income you have the less grant you are likely to get unless the home adaptations are for a disabled child or you receive one of the following benefits in which case it doesn’t apply:

  • Income support
  • Income-based job seekers’ allowance
  • Income-related ESA
  • Guaranteed pension credit
  • Housing benefit
  • Working or child tax credit where the income is less than £15,050

The maximum grant you can normally get is £30,000, although if you need more your Council must consider your particular circumstances. The average grant is around £8,000.

You can apply for a grant whether you're a tenant or own your own home - but you must sign a certificate to say you intend to stay living there for at least five years.

If you’re an owner-occupier and get a grant of more than £5,000, some Councils will place a local land charge which means you may need to repay some of the grant if you move within 10 years.

An accessible home can improve the mobility, wellbeing and wider physical health of people living with disabilities. Having an accessible home that meets your needs isn’t a luxury and shouldn’t be seen as one. Reach out to your local council and surveyor to understand what the process to gain an accessible home would look like for you.

Article written in collaboration with Habilis Chartered Surveyors and Foundations.