Written By: Patrick Young
Finding an accessible home can seem next to impossible. The thing is, if you’re only looking for homes that already meet your needs in full, you might have trouble finding one in your area. But if you broaden your search to include homes that have good bones and can be modified to fit your needs, your chances of finding the right home increase exponentially.
Of course, a lot of other things go into buying a home as well, and the whole process can feel overwhelming—especially if you’re looking for an accessible home. Below we will discuss some of the factors involved and how to approach the process so that you can purchase a home that works well for your life.
For First-Time Home Buyers
If this is your first time buying a home, there will be some things that you need to consider. First, you will want to check your credit score to get an idea of what kind of loan you can expect to qualify for. Each of the three reporting bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—offers a free annual credit report. It’s best practice to get a report from all three and to have any inconsistencies between them fixed. You will also want to gather any paperwork that your lender may ask for so that it’s ready.
Another thing to consider is hiring a real estate agent. A good agent can help you find the right kind of home and guide you through most of the home-buying process. Then, you will want to figure out how much house you can afford, which will help you narrow your home search. During this step, be sure to factor in expenses such as the down payment, taxes, insurance, and so on.
What to Look for in a Home
It’s rare to stumble across an accessible home that meets all your needs perfectly from the start; most of the time, modifications are necessary. With that said, it’s important to keep in mind modifications when you look at each house. Make sure the house has good bones and that you will be able to make the changes you need.
Used in this context, “good bones” refers to a well-built home that needs relatively minor improvements—for instance, a home that has no serious structural problems with the foundation, roof, walls, or other parts of the construction. Since you will likely need to budget for modifications, you don’t want to add major repairs to your plate when purchasing a home.
Also, look for a home that will require the least amount of modifications to be made as possible. If you use a wheelchair, for example, be cognizant of factors such as:
● The overall layout
● The number stairs
● The widths of doors and hallways
● The type of flooring
Moreover, make sure that any home you’re interested in can be modified to fit your needs, whether it’s lowering the countertops, widening the doorways, or putting in a walk-in shower.
Modifications to Make
While everyone’s needs are different, there are some common home modifications to make to accommodate disabilities. Be sure to factor in such modifications when budgeting for your new home. These can include (but are not limited to):
● Installing ramps at the entrance and over thresholds
● Installing grab bars in the bathroom
● Putting in a walk-in shower/bathtub
● Replacing high-pile carpet with low-pile carpet or hardwood flooring
● Laying down non-slip mats
● Lowering countertops and vanities
● Widening hallways or doorways or installing expandable door hinges
● Knocking out walls to create more of an open space layout
If you take the right approach, you should be able to find an accessible home or one that can be modified to meet your needs. Remember to take all the necessary steps if it’s your first time buying a home, know what you’re looking for during your home search, and consider any modifications that can make your everyday life safer and more comfortable. Before long, you will be starting your next chapter in your new home!