Every buyer starts their home search with a list of features they want most. While you may be willing to compromise in certain areas, if you need to find a home that’s accessible, this need takes top priority. Finding the perfect home that’s also accessible often takes a unique strategy, but it’s entirely doable! Plus, if you buy a home and then make accessibility modifications, these improvements can even improve your home’s value.
If this is your first time buying a home, the best way to get started is to educate yourself. Being organized and knowing what to expect before you start searching can make a huge difference in your home-buying experience, and even help ensure a successful outcome.
Before viewing homes, you should check your credit score and find a good real estate agent. You should also get a good idea of how much you can afford to spend on a house and the kind of paperwork you’ll need when applying for a loan. As part of this process, take a little time to search for finance options you may be eligible for, too, including government and non-profit assistance.
Once your finances are lined up and you’ve chosen a real estate agent, you’re ready to start searching! The first thing to consider is a home’s overall structure and outdoor spaces because these things are often harder to change. For example, a home that has an open floor plan and wide hallways will be easier to get around in than one that has less open space. The same is true for finding a single level, a step-free entrance, and a level yard or paved space outside.
While you want to keep all these things in mind, don’t worry if you can’t find a home that checks them all. It helps to make a list of these needs and think about which ones are easier (and more affordable) to change than others. Some projects are fairly inexpensive, such as adding a ramp to create a wheelchair-friendly entrance or widening interior doorways.
On the other hand, other projects may not be as easy to complete. If you want to create more open space, it’s best to consult with an engineer before assuming you can remove a wall. It also helps to think about creative solutions. For example, Chase tells how one family built a garage that would fit their wheelchair-accessible van, with a ramp into the home’s entrance.
Along with these structural issues, there are a few other key things to look for in an accessible home, including the flooring material. Smooth-surface floors like hardwoods, laminate, or linoleum are the easiest for movement, with high-pile carpet being the worst. According to the website Rolling Without Limits, another factor to think about is a floor’s durability. Remember that flooring is something you can replace after buying a home, but if this is something you plan on doing, be sure to account for that in your budget.
Make sure you also consider special features you may need in the kitchen and bathrooms since these are rooms where you need to do more than just get around. You need to be able to get in and out of the shower safely and access appliances and countertops in the kitchen to prepare meals. One solution is to look at what builders are doing to make these rooms ADA compliant to get some ideas. Even if you don’t find a home that has all these features, you will at least know what to look for, such as handrails and varying-height counters.
The truth is that most home buyers have to make some compromises. The one thing you should never have to compromise on, though, is accessibility. Even if the perfect home isn’t quite a turnkey, we guarantee, the right one is out there and just waiting for you to make it your own.
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