As anyone who lives with a disability knows, the handicap-accessible housing market is a work in progress. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, “fewer than 5 percent” of homes can accommodate “moderate mobility difficulties.” Although it can be difficult to find an accessible home, you have some options.
Many people purchase a home and modify it to suit their needs, or of course, you can build. NV5 points out new construction tends to be the costlier option, so we’ll focus on buying an existing property and modifying it. With that in mind, here are some house hunting tips:
What to Do with Your Current Home
If you’re currently a homeowner, you’ll need to consider what you’ll do with your current home when you move. You might be tempted to rent it if it’s located in a desirable location. The best option for you will depend upon your unique situation, your local housing market, as well as the amount of equity you have in your current home. Look at your cash flow and your potential return on investment before making your decision.
Online tools like PennyMac’s home value estimator can come in handy as you weigh your options. Although home value estimators aren’t a substitute for a true home appraisal, they can help you determine a possible market value for your home — or gauge a rough estimate of the property value for a home you’re considering purchasing.
What to Look for in a New Home
When it comes to finding the perfect accessible home, for many people, must-have features to look for include:
- An open floor plan. Not only are open floor plans all the rage at the moment, but they also lend themselves to accessibility. A single story home is also a boon.
- Accessible features. Look for things like handrails on both sides of all staircases and grab bars in all bathrooms.
- Easy upgrades. If you can’t find a home that includes all the features you’re looking for, try to find one that will be relatively easy (and affordable) to modify for accessibility.
After you’ve found the right abode, it’s time to plan your move. To ease the moving process, consider local resources and contractors. For instance, hiring movers can take some of the stress off your shoulders on moving day.
Additionally, if you have a lot of items, storage containers can be a great option. You can take your time packing storage containers and, when you’re ready to move, a local transport company will pick up your storage receptacle and take it to your new home for you.
Making Home Modifications
In an ideal world, your new home would include all the turnkey accessibility features you need. However, it’s more likely that your new home will require at least a few renovations. Remodeling explains some common modifications include installation of grab bars, walk-in tubs, or non-slip flooring.
Although you might be tempted to make renovations on your own, you may find that it’s quicker, easier, and perhaps even more cost-effective to hire a skilled contractor. Before hiring someone, do your research and find a local contractor with positive reviews who specializes in special needs, disability, or accessibility features. For starters, you might search online for ADA-certified contractors in your area.
When those of us with disabilities begin looking for a new place to live, finding an accessible home can sometimes prove difficult. To help ease your frustrations during the house-hunting process, start by understanding your local housing market. Look for homes that are either wheelchair-accessible or can be easily modified to have the options and features you need. With the right contractors, research, and resources, you’ll have an easier time finding and moving into the home of your dreams.