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Government subsidizes some age-related remodeling
By Arlene Miles | Daily Herald Correspondent
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Published: 2/21/2009 9:38 PM

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Modifications to accommodate age-related or other disabilities can be as simple as installing grab bars in the bathroom or as complicated as finding an area for an in-home elevator. The costs for remodeling can run the gamut, too.

So, how does one get the modifications one really needs?

First off, make sure that you're comfortable with your contractor by finding someone to whom you can relate and is sympathetic to your needs.

"It really comes down to identifying your needs and motivations," said Joel Kristianson of Crimson Design and Construction. "We're very upfront about finding out what your budget is. People can sometimes get a little nervous about that, but it helps us tailor a project to what they can afford."

The most popular modifications don't need to be expensive, but rather should be well thought out, noted Kelly Mack, National Association of Home Builders & Remodelers communications director. Make sure your contractor offers you viable, but safe, alternatives if you can't afford optimal modifications.

"If someone can't afford a raised toilet, we can offer to place a raised seat on top of their toilet," said Scott Sevon of Sevvonco.

But what if remodeling costs, no matter how small, will be difficult for a homeowner to meet. Does that mean the project needs to be scrapped or reduced greatly in scope? Not necessarily.

According to information provided by NAHBR, a number of government funding options may be available depending on the situation. These include Home and Community Based Services offered through a waiver program, which permits Medicaid funds to be used for home modifications as an alternative to institutional care. Local programs that may be available are community block development grants funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Local communities develop their own criteria for how the grant money is dispersed. Check with your town to see if funds are available for this purpose.

Individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis may be eligible for home modification funding through nonprofit organizations devoted to those afflictions. Also check with national organizations such as Easter Seals or Rebuilding Together. The latter provides home repairs and modification at no cost to the homeowners using a volunteer team of unskilled and skilled trades people.