Step-free entrances, ramps, widened doorways, and bathrooms with ample maneuverability, as well as flooring adaptations, lighting, lever door knobs, faucet handles, and grab bars—are just a few examples of renovations and home modifications covered by this guide’s resources.
Professional staff facilitate the social-service goals (including home modification goals) of older adults, adults with disabilities, and caregivers by providing service information and referral, education, advocacy, and solution management.
Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS) know about home modifications and remodeling. They may be architects, designer-builders, remodelers, or occupational therapists. A CAPS completes a 3-day training and certification from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). They do not accept health insurance and usually charge a flat fee.
Occupational Therapists (OT) are health-care providers licensed to match individual abilities with needed supports (e.g., home modifications). They may charge a flat-fee or by the hour and may accept health insurance. For general information on OTs, visit or call 301-652-6611. For a referral, check with your doctor.
Landlords are required by law to allow tenants to make their homes accessible, but tenants must often pay the cost. So, grants of up to $2,800 are available for tenants earning less than 80% of the Fairfax Countyareamedian income (1-person household: $47,600; 2-person: $54,400; 3-person: $61,200). The grant limit is $10,000 for clients with a DD Waiver. There is also a veteran’s program component with a $4,000 limit. Income parameters are subject to change. Accessibility modifications must relate to the tenant’s functional needs.
For Virginia residents with disabilities who demonstrate financial need. Awards offer assistance with the purchase of equipment, medication, or services (e.g., home safety modifications, such as wheelchair ramps and grab bars). Applicant must meet poverty guidelines and/or receive SSI and/or Medicaid benefits. Maximum award per individual is $1,000.
Issues grants of up to $10,000 to individuals with disabilities up to the age of 65 who need assistive technology or equipment to maintain their independence in the community. An example might be money to install a stair lift to allow a person to remain in a two-story residence.
Owners/renters can modify their residences with a visual smoke detector. For renters, the landlord provides visual detectors. For owners who cannot afford a visual detector, they can apply to the Visual Smoke Detector Program. Contact NVRC for the one-page grant form.
Home-modifications for veterans or service personnel who sustained an injury resulting in service-connected disability. Funds can be used to widen doorways and add ramps for wheelchair accessibility, install grab bars in a bathroom, for example.
Offers home repairs (e.g. home modifications) for up to $500 in materials and a crew for up to one week. Participant must be: a resident of Fairfax County or Fairfax City, own or reside in the home; 62 years of age or older or have a disability, or have family members with disabilities. Income must be less than $47,950 for 1 person or $54,800 for 2 persons. Monthly housing expenses must be greater than 25 percent of monthly income.
Offers repairs to improve the safety and health of owner-occupied homes, such as grab bars and handrails, wheelchair ramps, doorway widening, bathroom modifications, and larger-scale repairs. Clients must intend to live in the home for at least 2 more years. Priority for older adults and people with disabilities. Household income limits: 1-person, $47,950; 2-person, $54,800; 3-person, $61,650.
Income tax credits of up to $5,000, or 50% of the cost of retrofitting existing dwellings or incorporating livable-home features in new homes. Excess may be carried forward up to seven years. Retrofits include barrier-free route to a zero-step entrance; widened doors and hallways; lifts and elevators; accessible light switches; accessible bathroom and kitchen facilities - to name just a few examples. Applications due by February 28 of the year following completion of the purchase or retrofit(s).
Real estate tax relief, tax relief for renters, and car tax relief are available to income/asset eligible citizens who are 65 or older or have a disability. Returning applicants must file between January 1 and April 1. First-time filers have until December 31.
ATLFA is a low-interest loan program that helps Virginians with disabilities acquire assistive technology and make home modifications. Loans are available with no down payment and longer terms, reducing the monthly payment. Individuals can borrow up to $30,000 (or more in some cases). Special consideration is given to medically-related credit issues and people with weak credit.
1. Check first with your doctor, occupational therapist, or other health specialist.
Home modifications affect your health and safety - check with a health provider before making changes.
2. Get organized.
There can be many steps to home modifications, even small projects. A free planning aid for older adults or working age adults with disabilities is the AARP HomeFit Guide and worksheets.
3. Review best practices for locating contractors.
Scams occur too frequently. Fairfax County provides information on hiring a qualified contractor (e.g. obtain bids from three contractors and ask for three references from each;ask for recommendations from neighbors, friends or relatives who have recently completed a home improvement). As you interview contractors, be sure to write down whom you contact and what was discussed. The county also has a process for filing complaints.
4. Check to see if you need a building permit.
5. Don’t accept discrimination.
If you are experiencing discrimination, you have rights under the Fair Housing Act. It contains language on the responsibilities of landlords, homeowners associations, contractors, or other parties related to home modification projects. The Fairfax County Office of Human Rights and Equity Programs enforces the Fair Housing Act and investigates complaints.