Buying a wheelchair-friendly home can be a complicated process for those who are unsure of where to look. Even seemingly minor issues such as the angle of doors and width of hallways are extremely important to residents who use a wheelchair, scooter, walker, or cane. If you or anyone you plan on living with has a disability, then here is a look at some tips you can use to find a home that will meet all of your unique needs.
Start Speaking With Local Realtors
Trying to find and purchase a home without a local realtor or real estate agency can be very frustrating. Many of the best homes are kept as “pocket listings” by these realtors, and that means you will most likely never see them in local journals and on public listing sites. Once you have chosen a realtor, you can then give them a list of all the must-have features that you need in your home. At the very least, your real estate agent can help you narrow your choices or come up with a neighborhood that will best suit your needs. They might even be holding onto a home specifically for a buyer who has a disability and needs those unique upgrades.
Consider the Neighborhood
The home itself is just one of the many different factors you will need to keep in mind. A resident who uses a power scooter might need to buy a home that is close enough to grocery stores and other businesses that they can travel to them on a single charge. Others will want to have easy access to public transportation or parks with level trails. Before you start making offers or contacting sellers, you and your loved ones should drive around the neighborhood to make sure that it has all of the amenities you are going to need in the coming years.
Open Floor Plans
After you have narrowed your choices, you can then contact a handful of sellers to begin scheduling viewings at each of the homes. When you are heading to a home, you should be sure to bring whatever mobility device you plan on using in the future. You can then move throughout the home to make sure that all of the rooms are easy to access and not blocked by any sharp turns, walls, doorways, or cabinets. As a general rule, most disabled individuals benefit from buying ranch-style homes. Also called ramblers, these houses typically have open designs with wide hallways and sweeping rooms. They often have entire walls knocked out to improve the “flow” between each room.
Remodels and Renovations
It is important to remember that you will most likely need to make at least a few changes to any home you plan on buying. Unless the home was previously owned by someone with a disability, it is probably missing at least a few upgrades. When you are taking a tour through a potential home, you should write down your thoughts on what renovations you might need to consider. You can then do some research and come up with a general idea of how much those projects will be. The total price of all the renovations should be added to the final price of the home.
The American Disabilities Association usually releases an updated list of accessibility standards once every few years. As you are searching for a new home to buy, you should consider familiarizing yourself with these standards. The reports often contain quite a bit of useful information such as the recommended width of doorways, new safety features for bathrooms, and how steep the entryway ramps should be.