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When searching for a home, it’s only natural to have a list of the features you desire. In fact, you’re even more likely to have this type of list if you have very particular needs due to a disability or other such physical limitations. After all, your home is where you should be most comfortable and safe, so it should be able to support you on that end. However, when searching for homes that fit your specific needs, you will likely find that you have your work cut out for you, as accessible homes in any real estate market can be few and far between. For this reason, it’s wise to focus on key accessibility features and consider adding modifications later. Here’s how you can streamline your home search.
Prioritize safety features.
Of course, safety is always a top priority. There are, in fact, must-have safety features that separate accessible housing from non-accessible ones, and it is these features that you should really be on the lookout for during your search.
First of all, consider the bathroom, which should be sufficiently modified to make bathroom tasks easier for seniors and persons with disabilities, and it should minimize the risk of falls. At the most basic level, ADA-compliant grab bars must be installed. Non-slip flooring is also necessary, as are raised toilets and even shower seats that can be easily folded and kept out of the way when not in use.
Second, kitchen modifications are also important considerations. Again, there are ADA standards that should ideally be met, running the gamut from cabinets to appliances to fixtures (like faucets). It’s important to look out for these, as well, especially for the wheelchair-bound.
Make sure you can get around with ease.
And in the subject of wheelchair accessibility (or any other mobility aids, for that matter), no doubt, space is of the essence. Naturally, you will want to be able to get around without difficulty in your own home, so again, you will want to make sure that ADA requirements are properly implemented.
At the very least, this will entail considerably wider doorways and hallways. Ramps in lieu of stairs—or in some cases, staircases equipped with chairlifts—are also necessary for multi-level homes. An open floor plan is also preferred for fewer obstacles.
Prepare to make modifications.
Of course, it’s likely that you will find a home that’s a ways off from being 100% percent in terms of accessibility but has the potential to be so. In this regard, making your own improvements may be in order and may even be preferable as this gives you the opportunity to customize your home to your specific needs.
One of the primary modifications worth considering is switching from carpet to hard flooring. This is because carpeting can make navigation with a wheelchair more challenging, as opposed to hard flooring, which is by far more ideal. Moreover, a wooden floor, in particular, will add a great deal of charm and value to a home and is easier to clean and maintain.
When surveying the costs of changing up your flooring, it’s a good idea to have all the information associated with labor and materials so you know how to budget. Material is a huge factor in wood floor installation, with flooring types like bamboo, pine, and other soft woods being cheaper compared to exotic and engineered hardwood. Factor in labor costs of additional jobs like repair and disposal of old subflooring and/or furniture removal, and it could set you back more than $7,000 on average. Knowing this right off the bat will undoubtedly be a deciding factor on whether a home is a viable investment, so it’s good to be well-prepared.
Suffice it to say, finding an accessible home requires patience and an open mind, as well as a clear vision of what you’re looking for. However, when you do find the perfect home, it’s likely whatever challenges you’ve encountered have fallen by the wayside. To wax poetic, it’ll be like coming home after a long day, and really, won’t that be lovely?