Creating a robust home: home modifications for NDIS participants with behaviours of concern

Creating a robust home: home modifications for NDIS participants with behaviours of concern

In the NDIS home modification world, the concept of a “robust home” is starting to gain traction.

This refers to homes designed for individuals with NDIS plans who may exhibit behaviours of concern that could lead to damage or breakage within their living spaces. In many cases, people living with behaviours of concern have additional home modification requirements to ensure their living space is safe, function, and that it enhances their independence and safety. Robust housing is categorised as Specialist Disability Accommodation, and may be funded by the NDIS.

However, as a relatively new field in the accessibility sphere, there isn’t as much knowledge of what robust homes are, or what building robust housing involves.


What is NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation? A quick introduction to SDA Homes

3D render of a robust SDA home

Specialist Disability Accommodation is a type of housing in Australia that is designed and funded for people with extreme functional impairment or very high support needs. This type of accommodation is provided through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

The Specialist Disability Accommodation Design Standard is a set of guidelines that outline the minimum design requirements for SDA. The standard was developed by the NDIS and came into effect on 1 July 2021.

SDA funding is only provided by the NDIS to participants with very high support needs that cannot be met by simpler home modifications. There are 4 SDA design categories:

  1. Improved Liveability
  2. Fully Accessible
  3. Robust Housing
  4. High Physical Support

SDA vs SIL: what’s the difference between supported independent living and specialist disability accommodation?

While the names may sound similar and both are tailored towards individuals with higher support needs, these are two different supports. The key difference is that:

  • SIL (Supported Independent Living) refers to in-home services that help participants with everyday activities, whereas;
  • SDA (Supported Disability Providers) refers to a participant’s housing

In many cases, a participant may receive funding for both SIL and SDA. They may live in SDA housing that’s been specially modified by an SDA approved to meet their needs while also receiving SIL services to support their ability to perform tasks such as shopping, preparing meals, managing medication, and more.


What is a robust home? Why are robust homes important?

Robust homes are a subtype of SDA Homes designed and built by SDA approved builders with a particular focus on resilience and toughness. Robust homes are also designed to be easy to maintain, reducing the need for ongoing repairs and maintenance.

These features of SDA robust homes support individuals with high or complex support needs such as behaviours of concern. This refers to behaviours that pose a risk to the health and wellbeing and safety of participants, support workers, the community, or their environment.

These types of behaviour are often demonstrated by participants living with an intellectual, developmental, or learning disability. Robust homes respond to these needs by incorporating features that reduce behaviours of concern and limit the potential for injury and damage.

Building NDIS housing for participants with behaviours of concern

When designing homes for people who live with behaviours of concern, there are a number of factors that need to be considered. This includes selecting an appropriate location and planning both the interior and exterior spaces, all aimed at creating a living area that truly meets the individual’s unique needs.

In this process, your NDIS builder needs to ensure that the home not only aligns with industry best practices but also accommodates the specific requirements outlined in a participant’s positive behaviour support plan such as by reducing specific triggers.

This is especially important when it comes to SDA homes, which are specifically tailored to the needs of individuals requiring specialised support.

Depending on the person, they might need to follow all the recommended SDA guidelines, or with sufficient support, they might only need a subset of these recommendations. That’s why it’s vital for each SDA to be carefully planned and established with input from individuals who are familiar with the future residents, understand their needs, and are well-versed in any behaviour support plans.

Key features of robust homes

Robust housing is specially designed to protect the occupant and the community, while supporting a participant’s independence. Depending on the participant’s needs, a robust home may include features such as:

  • Resilient materials: Robust homes are built with durable, hard-wearing materials that can withstand heavy use. This includes materials such as laminated glass, high-impact plasterboard and vinyl flooring.
  • Secure fixtures: Fixtures and fittings in robust homes are securely fixed to walls and ceilings to prevent them from being pulled off or damaged. This includes things like blinds, door handles, towel rails, and in some cases even furniture such as dining tables.
  • Minimised risk of injury: Robust homes are designed to minimise the risk of injury to participants. This includes features such as rounded corners on walls and furniture, and soft furnishings.
  • Reduced environmental stimuli: in many cases, a robust home will be fitted with soundproofing features and specially-chosen colour palettes to reduce sensory overload and environmental triggers
  • Easy maintenance: Robust homes are designed to be easy to maintain, with features that reduce the likelihood of reactive maintenance. In addition to being built from more durable and rugged materials, this also includes things like easy-clean surfaces and accessible power points.
  • Areas of exit and retreat: a robust home will often include dedicated areas of retreat for support workers, carers, and other occupants to avoid harm if required, as well as breakout rooms to enhance participants’ coping mechanisms

The benefits of robust homes for participants

  • Safe and secure: Robust homes provide a safe, secure environment for people with disability by removing potential causes of injury
  • Durable and long-lasting: Robust homes are built to last thanks to their emphasis on durable and rugged materials and fittings
  • Low maintenance: Robust homes are easy to maintain, allowing participants to reduce repair costs and save money in the long run
  • Improved quality of life: Robust homes can help to improve the quality of life for people with disability by providing them with a safe, comfortable and accessible place to live


Who can build NDIS housing? How an NDIS home modifications provider can help with robust homes

Due to the stringent standards outlined in the SDA design standards, it’s best to engage a specialist for SDA Homes. This is especially true for Robust Housing design and construction. Not only will an NDIS-approved builder have a better understanding of the SDA design standards, but the NDIS Practice Standards and Code of Conduct as well.

Additionally, robust housing is highly individualised. The exact features and implementation will depend on the participant. Understanding how to work alongside occupational therapists and knowing how accommodate participant needs are key to good housing outcomes.

Only an NDIS home modification provider with extensive experience in robust home projects can ensure these requirements are met.

Our NDIS home modifications process

At Restore Home Modifications, we believe that a robust home is not just about physical resilience; it’s also about fostering a sense of independence and empowerment for NDIS participants.

We also believe that empowerment isn’t just about modifications themselves – we believe that a seamless client experience is just as important.

Restore Home Maintenance follows a four-stage process for a seamless experience:

  • The first stage involves obtaining funding approval through the NDIS
  • The second stage includes a site inspection to assess the proposed modifications and develop a comprehensive scope of works
  • In the third stage, approved construction works are carried out with the assistance of a project manager
  • Finally, a final inspection is conducted, and a Completion Report is provided, along with a client satisfaction survey

Supporting allied health practitioners

In addition to supporting NDIS participants, our team also strives to make the home modification process as simple as possible for allied health practitioners as well.

As former allied health providers ourselves, we understand the assessment process and understand the jargon and assessment process. Moreover, we also know the most common issues that can arise during the design and application process. Using our unique combination of experience, we can streamline the application process for practitioners, ensuring faster outcomes:

We work closely with participants and allied health practitioners alike to ensure that individuals have access to the necessary financial resources to make their homes more suitable for their specific needs.

Learn more about occupational therapy home modification support.


Get in touch with our NDIS-approved builders in Melbourne today

Restore Home Modifications is an NDIS home modification provider in Melbourne that understands the unique needs of people living with behaviours of concern. We understand that in many cases, people living with behaviours of concern require specialist home modifications to accommodate their needs.

That’s why we’re committed to crafting durable, safe and functional environments that promote independence and enhance wellbeing.

If you or someone you know requires NDIS home modifications across Melbourne and Victoria to improve accessibility and independence, contact Restore Home Modifications. Our dedicated team is ready to support you every step of the way. You can reach us by phone at 1300 333 746, by email at or by following this link to request an online quote.