Being a homeowner has its challenges, especially when you need to make unexpected repairs or modifications that are beyond your skills and budget. If you’re looking for help with home improvement in the Bay Area, you’ll be relieved to hear that there are programs, services and funds available to make your life a little easier.
How to Get Help With Home Improvement
Whether you need urgent support or have been putting off repairs for too long, don’t be afraid to seek out resources. We pulled together the following four tips to support your search for a helping hand.
› Consider Projects That Qualify for Assistance
There are many types of repairs and home improvement projects that could qualify for assistance from nonprofits and government services in your community. Here are some common issues that you might not have even considered as being eligible for help:
- Roof repair or replacement
- Heating or AC repair or replacement
- Plumbing and electrical repairs
- Foundation work
- Accessibility improvements like ramps and railings
- Bath and kitchen repairs
- Interior and exterior painting
- New carpet installation
- Getting up to code with health and safety regulations
- Weatherization and insulation, such as energy efficient windows
- Fixing termite damage
› Look for Local Nonprofit Programs
Once you have a good idea of the type of project(s) that your home needs, you’ll be able to better identify the right kind of help. From home modification for the disabled to preventing falls at home for seniors, we recommend looking into the following programs that are active in our local area:
- Episcopal Senior Communities’ Home Maintenance Assistance program, for common household repairs
- Meals on Wheels Senior Outreach Services’ Falls Prevention Program, offering safety assessments and modifications in Contra Costa County
- Regional Center of the East Bay, offering home-based adaptive equipment for children and adults with developmental disabilities
- Habitat East Bay/Silicon Valley Home Repair Program, helping low-income homeowners with critical repairs, accessibility and minor projects, including those for mobile homes.
Like many of these programs, our Home Repair Program partners with homeowners on an ongoing basis when funding is available, some of which comes from ReStore sales. Review the request for service form to learn more about the process and program qualifications.
› Turn to Local, State or Federal Government Help
If you can’t find help with home improvement through local nonprofits, there’s still hope! A wide range of local, state and federal government programs are designed to assist with retrofits, permitting, and safety assessments as well as loans and home repair assistance grants. Depending on your location and needs, the following sites offer guidance and support:
- San Jose Department of Housing
- Oakland Housing Repair and Rehabilitation Programs
- Santa Clara Housing Rehabilitation Program
- Concord Housing Assistance
- Alameda Healthy Homes Department
- Home Improvement/Repair programs in California (HUD)
- Assistance for veterans, seniors, Native Americans and rural residents (USDA)
› Hire Experts
If working with volunteer-based programs on your home improvement project isn’t possible, be sure to hire reliable, trustworthy and quality contractors to get the work done. The Federal Trade Commission offers important advice for finding, comparing, hiring and paying contractors, including:
- Checking for qualifications by asking around and reading reviews
- Requesting estimates and asking about their insurance
- Getting a contract in writing, including anticipated start and finish dates
- Using a sign-off checklist to make sure you actually get what you’re paying for
And if you’re looking to cut down on costs, don’t forget that you (and your contractor) can find used building materials and hardware at a local ReStore. We also have a wide range of plumbing supplies, flooring and doors or windows that are waiting for their next home.
Realizing that you need some help with home improvement can be stressful, but our community is ready to help! Whether you work with Habitat through our Home Repairs Program or find assistance elsewhere, we hope your house continues to be a safe, accessible and livable place for you and your loved ones to enjoy.