Whether you have a disability or are simply looking for a house in which to age in place, accessible homes can be frustratingly hard to come by. The classic American house is not usually designed with accessibility in mind, with elements like stairs, carpeted floors, and out-of-reach fixtures and cabinets all seeming almost inevitable.
However, there are ways to make this easier. In this guide, we will go over a few simple techniques to help you through every step of the process.
Looking for an Accessible Home
It is possible to find an accessible home by yourself, but it will be a lot easier if you have help from a Realtor. Aside from the usual benefits of hiring one, you will have access to detailed information about the market in your area, as well as to floorplans that can help determine the viability of your house for accessible living.
Regardless of whether you get help, you should start by clearly defining what you need from your home and determining what your must-haves are. These are the absolute basic criteria your house should fulfill; step-free access and single-story design are common ones. It helps to have criteria, as you can automatically narrow down a large part of the local market.
Choosing an Accessible Home
Once you have narrowed down your options, you will have to make a choice. Once again, make a clear list of what you want from your house. Write down all the features you would like, from slip-resistant flooring to chair-height storage and fixtures. It is highly unlikely that one house will have all of these things, but your list will help you determine which house comes closest.
Chances are, you will have to make some accessibility modifications. A good way to help you choose a home is to price these changes and then compare how much the real cost of each one of your options would be — meaning the price of the house plus the cost of the modifications. Bear in mind that modifications can be expensive, but there are many grants available to help you with these costs.
Buying an Accessible Home
When it comes to the actual buying, one thing you should definitely do is have a look at your credit score. Taking a bit of time to raise your credit score can make a big difference for your mortgage. Get a copy of your credit report, make plans for any debt you have, and be patient. Remember, it takes time to change your credit status, but it’s a financial journey that will pay off in the end.
Moving Into an Accessible Home
As you pack for your move, take some time to do some in-depth decluttering. Clutter can be dangerous for people with disabilities, as it increases the risk of trips and falls, and it can also use up a lot of your precious accessible storage space. You’ll find some excellent resources and advice in this Ultimate Decluttering Guide.
On moving day, make sure to hire a reliable team of professionals to help with all the heavy lifting. This can seem like a big expense, but it is very much necessary for most disabled people and there is financial aid available for it.
Overall, the trick to finding an accessible home is to be well-informed and well-organized. Know exactly what you need from the house, how to achieve it, and where you can get help, and the whole process will be a lot easier. If you are ever lost, reach out to a local or national disability association for advice, or ask other disabled people about their own house hunting experiences. You will find the perfect home for you, even if you have to make changes to ensure it’s perfect.