SPECIAL GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
Patrick Young had recently moved and while he absolutely loved his new place, it wasn’t easy to find. He uses a wheelchair so he wanted to find a wheelchair-accessible home. Finding accessible homes or homes that could be easily and inexpensively remodeled to be accessible was challenging. Below is his article.
Tips for finding the right accessible home
Searching for an accessible home isn’t easy, but if you keep an open mind, you’ll likely find an option that will meet most of your requirements. If a home is almost right but missing some key elements to make it accessible, you can always make modifications to get it right. Or, if you have an interest in building from scratch, you can work with professionals who can help design the perfect accessible home for your needs.
Accessible home elements
There are many components of an accessible home—some of which can be easily modified, others, not so much. For example, it’s possible to renovate a kitchen to be wheelchair-accessible. On the other hand, a home’s fundamental layout is much harder to change, if not impossible. Consider what your non-negotiables are for your accessible home, including floor plan and other elements.
One of the most important considerations when looking at homes is the layout. If you need a home that’s appropriate for wheelchair users, single-story homes should be prioritized. While it’s possible to install lifts to help wheelchair users access upper stories, it’s far better to have a home with everything on one level.
Along with being single-story, ideally, the home should have a mostly open floor plan. Wide hallways and doorways are helpful, as is a large kitchen and bathroom. Some of these elements can be changed, but it’s important to consider the cost of renovations before committing to a home.
If you find a home that you love but the kitchen and bathroom are largely prohibitive for a wheelchair user, you could still make it work if you’re willing to do some renovations.
A wheelchair-friendly bathroom has a number of elements. The bathroom can often be one of the trickiest rooms for a differently-abled person—not only do countertops need to be the right height, but the shower must also be accessible for wheelchair users. Often this means a roll-in shower, plus a seat with a railing to aid in entering and leaving the shower. Rails should also be installed next to the toilet, and the entire space should be wide enough for a wheelchair to turn completely around.
Another room that can be modified is the kitchen. A wheelchair-friendly kitchen is one with countertops that are 34 inches high, sinks that have space for a chair to fit underneath, and appliances that are low to the ground for easy access. Kitchen cupboards should also be lowered and accessible by chair users.
Along with the kitchen and bathroom, another possible modification could be to the entrances to the home. You can install wheelchair ramps fairly easily, but be sure it’s stable and secure before using it. Another option for entrance ways is a wheelchair lift, which should be installed by professionals. The lift option may be better for wheelchair users who have difficulty maneuvering up ramps.
The home buying process can take some time, especially if you need to save some money for eventual modifications. One way to free up cash for renovations is by purchasing a home “as-is.” You can save money on these homes, but be sure to first consult your lawyer, inspect the property, and have a look at land records for any possible issues. You should be aware that most as-is house listings are targeted toward investors and renovators so you can assume it will likely need some work.
As you search for your accessible home, remember to come prepared with a list of non-negotiables such as layout and floor plan. Consider what might be modified to make it work for your needs, whether it’s building a new kitchen or changing the bathroom. And as you search for a new home, consider buying an as-is home because it could free up some money for renovations.
Article by Patrick Young for ableusa.info