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Home Modification and Repair


There are several ways to modify and repair your home. You can: 1) do it yourself, or get a friend or relative to help; 2) hire a handyman or contractor; 3) contact a home modification and repair program. Programs can be located through your:

  • Local Area Agency On Aging
  • State Agency On Aging
  • State Housing Finance Agency
  • Department of Public Welfare
  • Department of Community Development
  • Senior Center Independent Living Center


If you need to use a contractor, make certain that the contractor is reliable. Older people are prime target for con artists and fraud. Be especially wary of door-to-door repair salespersons. Consider taking these steps:

  • Get recommendations from friends who have had similar projects completed.
  • Hire a licensed and bonded contractor. Be specific about the work which you want. Try to get bids from several contractors.
  • Ask for references from previous customers -- CHECK OUT THE REFERENCES; try to see some of the contractor's completed projects.
  • Insist on a written agreement, with only a small down payment. Have a trusted family member or friend read the agreement. Consider having the agreement reviewed by your lawyer if it is very complicated. Make the final payment only after the project is completed.
  • Check with your local Better Business Bureau or your city/county Consumer Affairs Office regarding the contractor's reliability and performance record.


Home Safety Guide for Older People: Check It Out/Fix It Up by Jon Pynoos and Evelyn Cohen, Serif Press, Inc., 1331 H Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005. For more information, call: (202) 737-4650. Price: $12.50.

Older Consumers Safety Publication, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Washington, D.C. 20207 -- For more information, call: 1- 800-638-2772 or email: Price: Free.

The DoAble Renewable Home: Making Your Home Fit Your Needs (D12470). AARP Fulfillment, Consumer Affairs, 601 E Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20049. Price: Free (single copies).

Eldercare Locator: For information about services to the elderly, call 1-800- 677-1116.

This document was adapted from material developed by the National Eldercare Institute on Housing and Supportive Services, Andrus Gerontology Center, University of Southern California. Duplication of this document is encouraged with attribution of the source.


WebMD Public Information from the U.S. National Institutes of Health

Edited by Charlotte E. Grayson Mathis, MD on July 31, 2001

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