Home Buying with Accessibility Needs

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Real Estate

How to Find and Pay for Your Dream Home When Accessibility is a Top Priority 

by Patrick Young


Buying a home is a major investment, which is why any home buyer should take their time finding the right one. When you’re searching for an accessible home, finding “the one” can be a little extra challenging. More home builders are catching onto the popularity of universal design, but not every home on the market will meet these demands. The good news is that you can often make modifications to bring a home up to your standards.


Set a Budget and Find Funding

Before you can start your home search, you have to know what kind of budget you’re working with. According to Forbes, the general rule is to spend no more than 28% of your income when buying a home. However, there are a lot of factors that go into determining a realistic budget, such as how much you have saved for a down payment. If you find a home that needs major modifications to make it accessible, this is another cost to account for.


Anyone who is planning on making accessibility modifications should look into the numerous national programs that can help. You may be eligible for a loan or even a grant through organizations like the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Americorps, or the American Red Cross. There are also many other smaller organizations that provide help, so it’s worth exploring them all.


Besides the cost of buying a home, another big expense that many people overlook is the cost of moving. Especially if you’re moving a long distance, U.S. News notes there are numerous ways to cut moving costs. You might move in the off-season, for instance, or do a heavy decluttering to reduce the number of belongings you’re taking into the next abode.


Another way to keep these costs down is to do a hybrid move. Instead of using a single company for each step of the process, a hybrid move breaks down each step by using a local moving company to load, a separate transport company, and another local moving company for unloading. Going this route can be 40% cheaper than traditional options, and you still get the same service you need.


Make Your Checklist

Along with your budget, any home buyer also needs a checklist of the most important features they’re looking for. When you’re searching with accessibility in mind, this includes not only homes that already have these features but also a home’s potential for making modifications.


Entrance and Doorways: The ideal entryway is one that’s level with the ground, but installing a ramp is a relatively simple modification if necessary. If you find a home where you need to install a wheelchair ramp, the blog Lotsa Helping Hands recommends considering the slope of the yard and local building codes first. Look for exterior and interior doorways that are accessible, too. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standard is a doorway width of 32 inches.


Open Spaces: Along with accessible doorways, another key feature that many people look for is an open floor plan because it’s ideal for maneuverability. Because open floor plans are popular with many buyers, this feature may be easier to find than others.


If a home you’re looking at isn’t open, you may want to have an engineer take a look to see whether walls can be removed, or if there are alternative options like adding columns. Don’t assume that any wall can be torn down because some may be load-bearing.


Kitchen and Bathroom Accessibility: As Legal Beagle points out, the height of a home’s kitchen and bathroom counters is another major accessibility need. These are spaces you need to use everyday, so you need them to be within a comfortable reach. Look at the space underneath countertops as well, and whether any fixtures like a bathroom lavatory will need to be modified. In addition to lavatories and counters, another key accessibility issue in bathrooms is safety. Look for a walk-in shower, grab bars, and plenty of space to move around.


Of course, these features are just a few of the many must-haves for your wish list. Don’t be afraid to have high expectations! Your dream home is out there, and funds are available to help — whether it’s move-in ready or simply waiting for you to make the modifications that will make it perfect.


Resources for Article

universal design - https://www.washington.edu/doit/what-universal-design-0
income - https://www.forbes.com/sites/trulia/2017/03/01/how-much-of-my-monthly-income-should-i-spend-on-a-mortgage/#71fbd3f07a90
national programs - https://www.homeadvisor.com/r/grants-for-home-modification/
moving costs - https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/articles/how-to-save-on-moving-costs
decluttering - https://www.budgetdumpster.com/resources/how-to-declutter-your-home.php
hybrid move - https://www.hireahelper.com/moving-companies/long-distance/
wheelchair ramp - https://lotsahelpinghands.com/blog/wheelchair-accessible  
building codes - https://www.buildingsguide.com/blog/resources-building-codes-state/
doorway width - https://www.1800wheelchair.com/faq/how-wide-doorway-hallway-wheelchair
alternative options - https://www.hgtv.com/remodel/interior-remodel/how-to-open-up-living-spaces-pictures
counters - https://legalbeagle.com/6749558-counter-height-ada-compliance.html
walk -in shower - https://liveinplacedesigns.com/living-with-a-disability/handicap-bathrooms/an-essential-guide-to-remodeling-for-a-handicap-bathroom/
Pixabay - https://pixabay.com/photos/florida-home-house-for-sale-home-1689859/