What is a Home Improvement Agency?
Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs) are small, not-for-profit organisations funded by local and central government. They provide specialist support for older and disabled people, as well as those on low incomes, for maintaining, adapting and improving their homes.
They provide information and practical support. They can help with planning and arranging home improvements, and with applications for government grants.
For example, they can provide support if you are applying for a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG), although you don’t have to use an HIA if you have a clear idea about what work you would like to do, especially if you have a trusted tradesperson to carry out the work.
What are the costs?
An HIA’s advice and first visit are free. If you decide to accept further HIA help, most agencies subsequently charge a fee. Any costs must be discussed and agreed first. If you’re eligible for any local authority grants that could be used to pay the HIA’s fee.
What can a Home Improvement Agency help me with?
HIAs can give general advice on:
- schemes available to help with home adaptations, improvements and repairs
- alternative housing options
- local authority funding processes
- how to complete forms for local authority grants
- legal entitlements.
They can also provide practical help and technical advice, including:
- home visits and inspections
- advice on the scale and cost of any necessary works
- help with choosing a reputable and reliable builder
- monitoring the builder’s performance
- appropriate contracts and documentation.
HIAs can sometimes help by providing additional housing-based services for vulnerable people: for example, a handyperson, decorator or gardener who can carry out work at your home, often at a reduced rate.
Some HIAs work with local health services to arrange urgent adaptations for patients waiting to return home after a stay in hospital.
The pros and cons of using a Home Improvement Agency
The advantages of using an HIA include:
- help with choosing the right options to suit your needs
- ensuring you get any financial assistance that you’re eligible for
- ensuring you are treated fairly by builders and the local authority
- help with keeping a project on track and ensuring it meets building control requirements.
Possible disadvantages include:
- there will usually be a charge for getting ongoing help from an HIA, although a good HIA should be able to save you money on a big project
- it’s one more person to deal with, and if you’re doing a comparatively small amount of work with a builder you trust, you might feel you can manage without this additional relationship to handle.
How can I find a local Home Improvement Agency?
Local HIAs can be found all over the UK, but with different agencies, depending on where you live.
In England, search for them on the Home Improvement Agencies website.
In Northern Ireland, there are two HIAs: the GABLE Project and Fold Housing Trust (Staying Put Department). Read more about them and how they can help you on the Housing Executive website.
In Scotland, go to Care and Repair Scotland: services are available in 31 council areas across the country.
In Wales, check the Care and Repair Cymru ‘In your area’ page, which links through relevant Care & Repair Agencies, depending on where you live.
If you’re not eligible for council funding, you may need to use your income and savings, a loan or other options.
The DFG is available to people who meet certain eligibility criteria. We explain what these are and how you can apply.
From grants to local authority funding, find out what help is available to help pay for home adaptations.