3 Things to Look For in Your Search of an Accessible Home
Several years ago I worked for a couple who wanted to build a new home, one that could accommodate their special needs. I found just 1 national homebuilder at the time that was willing. My clients needed many special modifications such as reinforced and widened door frames which could handle openers, a life support panel in the master bedroom with a redundant power system to ensure that it could work in the event of a blackout, not to mention the basic needs of modifying the home to be totally accessible. What started as an encouraging and exciting opportunity evolved into a nightmare with the builder consistently cutting corners and hiding their shortcuts. With vigilance and strong advocacy on my part and patience on the part of my clients, the builder made the corrections needed. In the end, the couple received a home that met their needs. Fortunately, my clients remained my trusted friends in spite of the challenges they went through and received the home that met their needs.
Recently Patrick Young reached out to me and we found a shared passion, helping people with unique needs. Patrick is a passionate blogger for AbleUsa and I am a Realtor. Patrick and I collaborated to provide these tips.
3 Things to Look For in Your Search of an Accessible Home
The housing market is a vast and daunting place, which can be a challenge to navigate. This is especially true for those who have very particular needs, like folks living with disabilities and seniors who require specific home features, as their quality of life depends on them. However, even with limited options, finding the right accessible house for you is still within the realm of possibility, as long as you keep an open mind, know what you want and need, are open to making a few modifications here and there, and work with a skilled and dedicated realtor like Louis Parrish. But at the very least, here are some of the things that you need to look out for in your house-hunting efforts.
Ease of movement
Whether you’re wheelchair-bound or not, it’s a foregone conclusion that being able to comfortably move around when you have physical limitations is a real priority as you look for an accessible home. For this reason, you will definitely need to keep in mind your space requirements. For instance, you will want wider entryways and hallways to be able to navigate your home easily with a wheelchair or walker, as well as ramps or even a chairlift (installing a lift generally costs between $3,000 and $4,000) to move between floors in a multilevel house.
Flooring is also another thing that will greatly contribute to how easily you’ll be able to move around the house. No doubt, carpeted surfaces will be a lot harder to navigate than wood flooring. Thankfully, adding wood flooring to a house is one modification that’s well within reason. In addition to navigability, wood floors are also known to drive up a home’s value, and they’re easy to clean and maintain to boot, so the change is definitely something to think about.
Of course, the cost of modifications is an obvious concern. Case in point, installing hardwood flooring averages $3,930—a figure that varies on factors like whether you need the subfloor or old flooring repaired or disposed of; if the furniture will need to be removed; and even the type wood you prefer, with exotic and engineered hardwoods on the higher end and softwoods like bamboo and pine costing a little less.
Keep in mind that you’ll have to account for the cost of these modifications when establishing your home-buying budget. So while the median Tucson home sales price was $235,000 as of August 2020 (click here for the current median price), you’re likely to spend a bit more.
Ease of access
Now, when you’re living with physical limitations, the ease of your day-to-day relies heavily on being able to comfortably access appliances and facilities within your household, preferably without assistance from other people. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for home modifications that satisfy this requirement.
Consider the kitchen where a good percentage of daily life occurs. A well-appointed one will undoubtedly have the right appliances and fixtures to make it fully functional. For someone with a disability, it will need to be accessible, too. At the most basic level, a fully accessible kitchen will need lower countertops and other surfaces that can be easily reached by someone who’s wheelchair-bound. Fixtures like faucets, valves, knobs, etc. should also satisfy accessibility standards in that they can be easily operated with one hand. Moreover, workspaces, appliances, and the sink must be unobstructed with sufficient clearance.
Last and definitely not least, safety is one criterion that you should focus on, as well. You want to be able to live in your house without worrying about tripping or falling or slipping, so a potential property must have the right safety features in place—or at least, have room and provisions for modifications in that regard.
At the very least, your bathroom should be ADA-compliant. This means that it should have ample space and be fitted with grab bars, although you can also install them after you move in. The toilet should also meet accessibility standards, while foldable shower seats are a must. Furthermore, the shower should also be curbless and flooring equipped against slippage.
You can help your house-hunting efforts greatly by having a clear picture of what you want and/or need. From there, it’s just a matter of recognizing potential as you see it and being open to the idea of getting a bit of work done on the house if need be. Trust us, the perfect home for you is worth it!
Single Level adapted home in Tucson, AZ.
Image Credit: Louis Parrish
This content last updated on Tuesday, March 28, 2023 2:00 PM from MLSSAZ.
This content last updated on Tuesday, March 28, 2023 3:00 PM from ARMLS.
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