Finding a new home when you have a disability can feel overwhelming. Accessible homes are few and far between, especially when you consider that “accessible” can mean very different things to different people.
Your disability presents unique challenges, which means that your house needs to be unique. In most cases, this means that house hunting with a disability involves a constant compromise between what you need and what is available. These tips can help smooth out the process and make it easier for you to find The One.
1. Where to Look
Some real estate websites have made it easier to search for accessible housing online. Some are specifically geared toward finding accessible homes, while other sites include an accessibility filter. Many others allow you to select only single-story homes.
2. Hire A Good Realtor
A realtor will help you sort through the local market to pinpoint the homes that are either accessible or have the potential of being so. Before hiring an agent, make sure that they’re able to answer all your questions and provide references. If possible, look for one that has experience in finding accessible homes, either for disabled clients or for the elderly.
3. Know What You Need
Before you start looking, make sure you are clear on what your requirements are. Have a checklist of all the features your new home must have. While these might have to be added or modified, you are still looking for a house that needs as little work as possible.
4. Think Long-Term
This applies especially to older people. When you choose your home or make modifications, make sure you are considering your future needs as well as your current ones. Is your disability likely to evolve with age? If so, how will this impact your home’s design?
5. Have a Renovation Budget
Know how much money you are willing to dedicate to renovations and modifications, and make sure to include this in your total calculations for the cost of the house. HouseLogic has some useful advice on budgeting for home renovations. Keep in mind that depending on what you qualify for, you could be eligible for special grants or loans.
6. Don’t Forget Lighting
A home’s lighting is one of the most important features for accessibility, as good visibility can greatly reduce the risk of accidents. Try to visit a home both during the day (so you can see the quality of natural light) and at night (so you can identify any poorly-lit areas).
7. Think Beyond The House
It’s not just about the house you are going to live in. Your community and your neighborhood should also be accessible and inclusive. Take a trip around the area and ask yourself if you could live there. Look at the curb, the pavement, the parking spaces. Step into the local stores you would be using and see if they are easy to navigate.
8. Install Extra Security
It is an unfortunate fact that someone with a disability can be an easy target for burglars. Make sure you boost your security by installing new locks and an affordable security system. Even something as simple as a Nest camera can help bring you peace of mind.
9. Hire Experienced Help
It’s important to find the right contractor for the job. Specifically, look for contractors with plenty of experience in home accessibility modifications. Ask for concrete examples of similar work they have done and check whether they have any experience working to ADA standards (while these are not mandatory in private homes, they are recommended as guidelines).
When it comes time to move, it’s best to bring in professional movers to complete the job. Don’t just go with the cheapest option. Look through online reviews to learn more about which moving companies are the most highly rated.
Finally, don’t let the stress of househunting get the better of you. It’s not easy for anyone, but everyone does eventually find their dream home. Yours is out there as well, whether ready-made or ready to be renovated.