When looking to purchase a home, there are many factors to consider. For instance, one may be concerned with the size of the house and location or whether it has a modern kitchen with updated appliances. Most of us, when making that buying decision, don’t take into consideration its handicap accessibility. As an example, a primary concern for people with a mobile disability, would be wheelchair access throughout the home. To meet that requirement, a home must have mobile access to all parts, inside and out. Could you imagine not being able to access a bathroom safely or at all? In this article, we will discuss what makes a home accessible for people with disabilities.
If you’re considering an accessible home, develop a functional list of must-have features needed live in your home comfortably. Prioritize your list from most important to able-to-live-without. The challenge will be to find something that checks off most of the boxes. Prepare to set aside a renovation budget to handle any of those missed items.
Here is a sample list of features to consider:
- An accessible building entrance – ramp access
- Accessible common and public use areas – no stairs
- Doors usable by a person in a wheelchair – extra width
- An accessible route into and through the dwelling unit – open floor plan
- Accessible light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats, and other environmental controls
- Reinforced walls in bathrooms for later installation of grab bars
- Larger kitchens and bathrooms
With your list in hand, it’s time to begin the search for a new home. There are a couple ways to attack this, either by yourself or with a real estate professional. If you search on your own, prepare to spend a lot of time researching properties online and visiting potential homes. Some real estate websites have made researching accessible homes easier by providing search filters. Consider one-story houses, as they are usually more accessible. Network with people in specialized groups who may know of others who may be selling.
Should you decide that your time is more valuable, you may want to leave the search up to a real estate professional, though that can come with a substantial cost at closing. A realtor can speed up the process by assisting you with identifying homes that are accessible or have the potential to be accessible. They should be aware of all the properties for sale in their region so make sure you hire an agent who is experienced in finding homes for people with disabilities. Before buying, tour the surrounding location:
- Check out the sidewalks – well maintained?
- The parks – easily accessible and safe
- Proximity to grocery markets or town centers
- City transportation availability
- Bottom line – ask yourself if you could live here
Some points to consider after you move in:
- Consider installing a security system. People with disabilities can be seen as easy targets.
- Should you need to renovate, find a contractor experienced in renovating homes for accessibility
- Always ask for referrals, pictures, and license information
- Only pay upon completion of the job
See you next article.