From Maryland Department of Education Division of Rehabilitation Services
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Sometimes as people age, their physical abilities fail and may make it difficult, or even impossible, to stay in their homes without some changes or modifications to the home.
When we talk about "home modifications" in this Guide, we mean any alterations made to your home, apartment, condo, etc. that make it more livable. There are different types of programs available depending on the type of home modification you need. Home modifications may be relatively minor and inexpensive, such as installing grab bars, handrails, and lever handles. They may also be major and very expensive, such as installing elevators or lifts, enlarging doorways to allow wheelchair passage, modifying kitchens for easier meal preparation, or even installing emergency communication systems.
If you need modifications to your home as a result of a disability or failing health, and the modifications will help you to stay in your home, you should:
You also can call the Maryland Department of Aging Client & Community Services Division and ask for help.
You need to be very careful and do your homework before hiring a contractor. You want to make sure you hire a contractor for a fair price who will complete the work in a timely manner and do a quality job. There are steps you can take to help ensure that you will be satisfied. Estimates should include a list of exactly what you're getting for the price. Be sure the price includes all labor and materials. Make sure your contractor has a Home Improvement License and has liability insurance. Also, ask to see a copy of his workmen's compensation policy. You may be liable if a worker is injured on your property. Always check with the Maryland Home Improvement Commission [410-230-6309] to see if any complaints have been filed against the contractor. Ask each contractor for references (people who have used the contractor’s services in the past). Be sure to call the references. Once you decide upon a contractor, insist on a written contract. The contract should contain a complete description of the work to be done, the materials to be used, the starting and completion dates, and the payment schedule. It should also have the full name, address and phone number of the contractor and the homeowner. Remember all promises and plans should be in writing.
As mentioned earlier, many states and communities offer home modification programs. These programs are usually administered by local community development or social service agencies, and use varying combinations of state and federal funds. Some programs have carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and painters on staff who come to the home and perform the required work. Some programs furnish free labor, and the homeowner purchases the necessary materials. Low-interest or no-interest loans, usually not repayable until the homeowner sells or leaves the home, are offered by other programs. Some programs simply provide a list of reliable contractors and assist in the process of receiving bids, selecting the contractor, developing a contract and ensuring that the work is performed in accordance with the contract. Weatherization programs are also available and usually provide the necessary materials for insulating homes and apartments, and sometimes provide the labor for those who qualify. In some areas, utility companies provide free energy audits and advice on weatherizing homes to reduce energy costs. Call the Maryland Department of Aging to find out what help may be available to you. The following list identifies possible places you can look if you need help to finance needed home modifications:
Even if you are not eligible for any of the programs in your area that help with the costs of home modifications, there are other ways to get cash to pay for needed work, including home equity conversion, deferred payment loans, reverse mortgages, sale/leasebacks, and life estates. If you need more information on these options, you can write to AARP at AARP Home Equity Information Center, AARP Foundation, 601 E Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20049, or call 1-888-687-2277.
This site offers legal information, not legal advice. We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options. However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney. The Maryland State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site. In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – www.peoples-law.org. © Maryland State Law Library, 2010.”