Guest Post: Patrick Young is an educator and activist.
When it comes to finding an accessible home, there are many challenges you may face along the way. More often than not, people with disabilities searching for a comfortable place to live will have to make sacrifices and compromise. Most homes are simply not built with accessibility issues in mind. However, going in knowing this can make the process easier. Keep your eye peeled for the perfect home, but know you may need to take an existing property and upgrade it to meet your needs.
What to Look For
There are some basics you should look for when it comes to your accessible home search. These will depend mainly on your needs. For example, if you have trouble going up and down stairs, focus on single-level homes. This way you don’t have to worry about installing elevators or stair lifts to access large portions of your property.
Focus on homes with open floor plans. Limit the doorways, and you’ll have an easier time getting around your home. By focusing on your needs and coming up with creative home adaptations, you can find a home that works for you. Remember: It’s very expensive to change the basic layout of a home. Try to find a space that’s already shaped the way you need it to be.
What Can Be Changed
However, apart from floor plan and location, most parts of any property can be changed to suit your needs. For example, don’t write off a home that’s carpeted. Although this kind of flooring might not suit your mobility aids, it’s easy to have carpet removed and hardwood installed. Typically, this kind of upgrade costs between $2,498 and $6,745, depending on your area, the size of the project, and the type of wood you want to use. For example, installing pine is considerably cheaper ($6 – $11 per square foot) than installing cypress ($12 – $22 per square foot).
Many homes have a step to get into the front door. This can make the space practically unusable for those in a wheelchair. However, there are plenty of options out there for ramp installation. These range from very low-budget DIY solutions to gorgeous front porch renovations that make your entryway accessible and stylish (professionally installed ramps usually range from $1,000 – $2,800).
Another simple, budget-friendly change to make most homes more accessible comes down to closets. Many closets designed for the able-bodied have the hanger rack high up. This isn’t always practical for those who navigate their homes in a seated position. However, you can install a second clothing bar lower down. This can hold regularly used items, and out-of-season or special-occasion clothes can live on the upper rack.
Things to Keep In Mind
If you need to move quickly, you want to pick a home that needs as few renovations as possible. Remember, any upgrades you’ll need to get around the house will have to be made before you move in. Changes that simply make things easier or more comfortable can often be made while you live in the home. However, even then you account for the inconvenience of having work done in the space you live in.
Take all of this into account when checking out different spaces. Necessary home upgrades won’t just cost you money; they will also mean a longer time moving into your new home, or a period where you’re living in a partial construction zone. These shouldn’t be deal breakers, but it’s important to take in the full picture before you make any firm decisions.
Finding an accessible home can be challenging. Focus on spaces that suit as many of your needs as possible, and keep simple upgrades in mind. Even if you can’t find the perfect home, you may be able to tweak a space that’s close enough. Then, you’ll have the home of your dreams.
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