Home modifications

We’re here to help you get your life back on track after your transport accident.  To help you access your home, we can pay for reasonable changes to its structure, layout or fittings (known as home modifications) when they are needed because of your transport accident injuries. This may include creating safe access to parts of your home.

There are differences between home modifications and home renovations. If you decide to complete a home renovation, for example to:

  • make your home new again,
  • repair or restore your home to good condition, or
  • alter the layout of your home, and

these renovations are not needed as a result of your transport accident injuries we cannot pay for them.

What home modifications we will pay for

We will pay for:

  • Simple home modifications, such as a hand rail or an access ramp.
  • More complex modifications, involving major building/structural work, such as widening doorways or installing stepless showers.

For equipment that can easily be installed, such as grab rails, see our Equipment policy.

For your safety, we need to make sure that it is reasonable to modify your home.

We can only consider modification to the parts of your home you need reasonable access to, for example:

  • To enter and leave your home
  • Bathroom
  • Bedroom
  • Living area
  • Dining room
  • Kitchen or basic cooking facilities, when you are involved with the preparation of your own food.

We will consider modifications to your primary residence only where you intend to remain living at the residence.

If you live in a rental home, we will need the agreement of the property owner before any modifications can take place. We will consider how much time you spend at the home when we work out a reasonable amount we can pay for the construction of the home modification.

We can consider the reasonable modifications to a holiday home, secondary place of residence or a caravan where it is a necessity that you need access. For example, if you are a child under a shared custody arrangement who needs to access separate residences.

In some circumstances we may approve home modifications as a multi-step process.

Temporary accommodation

Making changes to your home is a big decision for you and your family. If needed, we can consider temporary accommodation while your home is modified. This includes paying the reasonable cost of short to medium term accommodation in an accessible property, hotel, motel or serviced apartment.

We can only continue to pay for temporary accommodation while you are participating and engaging with the TAC home modifications process to ensure that your home modifications are completed in a reasonable time.  If we have concerns about your participation, we will let you know in writing and tell you what you need to do so that we can continue to pay for temporary accommodation.  If you don’t meet these requirements, we may stop paying for temporary accommodation.

We can only pay for temporary accommodation when the building works are being undertaken. This excludes circumstances such as the time taken for land to title.

We will consider the recommendations of the occupational therapist in assessing suitable temporary accommodation, but you will need to get approval from us to pay for any temporary accommodation costs before you move in.

Alternatives to home modifications

In some circumstances your home may not be suitable for modification. This includes circumstances where the value of the modifications is more than the value of your residence.

In these circumstances we can pay:

  • The necessary reasonable cost to relocate you to another home that is suitable and capable of being reasonably modified,
  • Temporary accommodation while you are actively engaged in the home modification process.

Alternatively we can contribute a reasonable amount towards the cost of the provision of a semi-detachable portable unit that can be placed on the property of your main residence.

In some circumstances, home modifications (particularly things like structural work) may not be possible, safe or reasonable. This might be due to the appropriateness of your home or your individual circumstances.  These circumstances will be identified by the project manager, builder or other relevant party.

Where a modification cannot be made due to illegality, access issues or where the cost of overcoming these issues is more than the value of your home, we will look at other potential reasonable solutions.

Moving to a new home

If you choose to move home after your original home has been modified and the “new” home needs modification, we will consider many factors when deciding whether we will contribute to the cost:

  • If the new home is appropriate to meet your needs related to your transport accident injury
  • The amount we paid for previous home modifications
  • The reasonableness of the frequency of home modifications due to relocation or changes of ownership
  • The purpose of the home modifications.

If you move to a home that cannot be reasonably modified, we will generally not pay the cost of the modifications. For example, if you choose to move to a multiple level home that requires a lift, we will not pay this cost.

If you choose to build a new home or renovate your existing home, we can contribute to the specific extra costs that relate to your transport-accident related needs. For example, if you want to build a new home, we may pay the difference in cost between a normal oven and a disability-specific oven.

We can provide an occupational therapist to help you with your home selection process and we will work with your treating team to make sure that the home you are moving to can be reasonably modified.

If, in our opinion, the home you are moving to cannot be reasonably modified, we can’t approve modifications.  To make sure that the new home you choose is appropriate, we encourage you to contact us as soon as you can so that we can help.

Rental home

If you lived in a rental property before your accident, we can consider modifications to the rental property. We need the agreement of the property owner before any modifications can start. In general we will only approve minor modifications to private rental properties because we don’t know how long you will live there. If you have, or can enter into a three year lease, we will consider the approval of minor modifications.

If modifications are made to a rental home and you leave the home, we are responsible (if requested) to return the rental property to the original condition.

If the home is not suitable for modification an alternative private rental property should be sourced. In those circumstances, the occupational therapist should review the home before you sign the lease to make sure that it will meet your needs.

External covered transfer area

If, because of your transport accident injuries, you are unable to control your body temperature (T6 spinal injury or above) and you use a wheelchair, we can consider the reasonable cost of a covered transfer area from your vehicle to your wheelchair.

We may also consider a covered walkway to access your home for a T6 injury and above.

If you are ambulant, we cannot contribute to either a transfer area or a covered walkway.

Heating and cooling

If, because of your transport accident injuries, you are unable to control your body temperature we can consider the reasonable cost of a reverse cycle split system to your bedroom and main living area.

Home automation

We can consider paying the reasonable cost of necessary home automation modifications when you need them due to your transport injuries, and when these modifications will clinically increase your independence and your ability to complete functional activities.

Laws and regulations

Home modifications are subject to the regular laws, regulations and rules that govern home renovation and construction including:

  • Building Code of Australia
  • Australian Standards for Disability & Access
  • Liveable Housing Design Guide
  • Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995
  • Building Act 1993
  • Project Development and Construction Management Act 1994

We cannot pay for any modifications that do not meet these rules, regulations and laws.

How the process works

The first thing to do is to contact us. If you want to modify your existing home, buy or build a new home, we can allocate a dedicated home modification representative to help you manage the process and be your contact person.

We will arrange a meeting at your home and organise a consultation with an occupational therapist so they can assess your needs, goals and outcomes.

The occupational therapist will:

  • Assess your situation, the suitability of your home and your injuries,
  • Consider the capability of your current residence,
  • Provide a detailed report to us that outlines your needs,
  • Make recommendations about what modifications are needed.

Once we have reviewed the report, we will refer your recommended home modifications to an external project manager. Once the project manager has prepared a project plan and provided an appropriate cost estimation, we will let you know what modifications have been approved.

After your modifications have been approved

You will receive in writing:

  • Formal approval of the home modification request,
  • The schedule for works,
  • The relevant documentations,
  • Details of all the modifications we approve.

You may need to sign a Capital Services Agreement.

Your TAC appointed project manager

We can appoint an external project manager who will:

  • Conduct site visits,
  • Arrange designs and explain them to you, so that you understand how your home will change,
  • Engage a builder after a quote or tender process.

The project manager will need you to sign-off the designs and sign the building contract. They will keep you informed of the schedule for the delivery of your modifications, ensure the quality of the work and compliance with any applicable laws or regulations.

The project manager will conduct regular site visits. Once the modifications are complete they will conduct a final inspection, which we may also attend (if required). It’s important that you attend this final inspection meeting, to make sure that you are happy with the modifications.

Capital services agreement

You will need to sign a contract called a Capital Services Agreement (CSA) before any work on the modifications can begin. This contract is required when the cost of the modifications are more than the Capital Service Agreement Limit. The CSA outlines the roles and responsibilities of each party including:

  • Frequency of modifications,
  • Subsequent modifications, and
  • Ownership, including notification of change of ownership.

Under the contractual agreement we are unable to contribute towards the cost of modifying a subsequent home that you own within 8 years after the original modifications, unless there are exceptional circumstances that require you to move.  If this is not the case, you are expected to pay for modifications on your next home yourself.

How much we will pay

We will pay the reasonable cost of home modification, relocation or semi-detachable portable unit where your home is not capable of being modified.

We will take into account the recommendations of your occupational therapist and treatment team when we make a decision.

If you are renting, we can pay a reasonable amount towards the modifications that you need for your transport accident injuries, taking into account the period of your lease and the permission of your landlord.

Where significant modifications are needed, you may ask for extra work, but if the extra work is not related to your transport accident injury then you will have to pay for it.

What we won’t pay for

We cannot contribute to, or buy, a residence for you. We also cannot pay your rent.

We cannot contribute to your home renovations.

We do not pay for additions to your home, such as pools, spas or landscaping.

We also cannot pay for home modifications that:

  • Are for a person other than you,
  • Are not reasonable, necessary or appropriate,
  • Are not clinically justified, safe and effective,
  • Where the owner of a property, body corporate or other responsible authority has not given permission for modifications,
  • Are illegal or do not comply with the relevant laws, regulations or planning permissions.

We do not pay for the connection of services to your modified home.

We do not pay for home maintenance or repairs:

  • These include instances where the building works to modify your home identify incidental structural or safety issues that need addressing, such as faulty wiring, plumbing or restumping of the premises.
  • Once modifications have been made, it is your responsibility to maintain their condition.  This requires you to take steps to keep the modifications in a safe condition and to avoid damage other than “fair wear and tear” to them.

Where you have signed a Capital Service Agreement with us, this agreement outlines your responsibility for ongoing costs and maintenance.

If a modification has been made or installed improperly, the costs associated with repair or to reinstall are the responsibility of the tradesperson or builder.

For providers

If you are a medical and rehabilitation provider please refer to our TAC provider guidelines.