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The Most Important Features for Your Wish List When Searching for an Accessible Home

By Patrick Young of the blog AbleUSA.info

House hunting isn’t always a straightforward process. From start to finish, there are so many factors to consider. When you’re looking for a home that is accessible, you have a few extra things to keep in mind. Some homes may already have accessibility features, while others may need some modifications. We’re here to help guide you through it all, from getting started to finding the perfect home and getting ready to move in.

Getting Started
If you’re a first-time house hunter, it’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed by the process. Before you start searching in earnest, familiarize yourself with the steps involved. You need to set a budget and understand the costs, brainstorm about what you’re looking for, and get a feel for how long it all takes. Your overall budget will need to include a down payment, mortgage costs, and other expenses like closing costs. To qualify for a mortgage, it’s important to get a copy of your credit report and do as much as you can to improve your credit score. If you have outstanding debt, you need a plan to address it. This isn’t something that happens overnight; however, be patient and stick to your goals and you will see the payoff.

Make Your Wish List
There are so many different features that make a home unique: the neighborhood, size, floor plan, design — the list goes on. Of course, accessibility is another feature that will go into your new home wish list. For some people, finding a neighborhood that is close to shops or that has accessible sidewalks is a priority.

Another thing to consider is that it isn’t always possible to find an accessible home that meets your other needs, but you may be able to make modifications. When you start searching, make sure you investigate how easily modifications could be made to a home and what those changes would cost. These are some of the top accessibility features to look for:

  • Entrance and exterior spaces: An accessible home should have a zero-step entry and a level walkway leading into the home. Many houses could work with an added ramp, but don’t forget about other spaces such as garages and outdoor living spaces. For example, Easter Seals suggests that a patio might be preferable to a raised deck.
  • The home’s layout: The floor plan and overall layout play a big role in determining the accessibility of a home. Look for a master bedroom and bathroom on the main level or a single-level home. An open layout with wide hallways is also ideal for wheelchair users. If doorways are too narrow, there are relatively simple ways they can be widened.
  • Kitchen and bathrooms: You want your whole house to be accessible, but kitchens and bathrooms need to meet specific requirements so you can get around safely and do everyday tasks with ease. In bathrooms, look for grab bars, curb-free showers, and wall-mounted vanities. In the kitchen, look for lower counter heights and accessible appliances. The Assistive Technology Blog also recommends having an alert system in areas of the home that can be trickier to navigate.

If you need to make modifications on your own, you’ll need to budget for the costs. For example, if you need to add grab bars (these are purchasable for under $15) or install a ramp, you may need to hire a handyman in your area. In Omaha, a handyman contractor charges an average of $362 per job.

Moving Details
When you find the perfect property, don’t overlook the little details that go into making a move. If your home needs changes, you will need a contractor to look over the space and advise you on renovations. Another thing that many new home buyers don’t think about is having the locks re-keyed to ensure the security of the property. Once you have a closing date, be sure to book a locksmith to get new locks installed.

These little details can add up, so don’t forget to factor them into your budget and overall planning. Buying a home isn’t the easiest process, but the reward is worth the effort. And with accessibility in high demand, you can feel confident in making this smart investment.

Patrick Young is a writer and manager for AbleUSA.info, a lifestyle blog dedicated to men and women living with disabilities.

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