Finding a new home can be difficult under any circumstance, but when you add in the extra work and stress of finding an accessible, it can seem near downright overwhelming — especially considering statistics indicate that the majority of homes are not fully accessible. However, this is not to say that these types of properties don’t exist; you just might have to be willing to put a little extra work in to ensure your safety and comfort. Here are some tips to help you find an abode that will allow you to keep your independence.
Pinpoint Your Requirements
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when looking for an accessible home. For some, full wheelchair access is necessary, whereas others are only looking for a property with modifications in the bathroom and kitchen. Accessibility can also mean something as simple as a single-level home or a condo with a lift. Pinpoint the specific requirements you’re looking for and consider whether you want to choose a home with more bells and whistles so you can plan for additional mobility issues as you age.
Consider When the House Was Built
It’s interesting to note that homes built before 1991 fall under the ADA, Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development Act of 1989, meaning those with a disability have a right to make modifications to a home. For those who rent, landlords are required to make reasonable accommodations in common areas such as the lobby, laundry facilities, and recreational areas such as a clubhouse or fitness center. Multifamily housing (four or more units) built after 1991 should follow FHAA construction rules: doorways, kitchens, and bathrooms need to be designed to facilitate wheelchairs; walls should allow space for future grab bars and other adaptive equipment; and all electrical outlets, power switches, and all environmental controls must be in accessible locations.
With that in mind, you may want to consider this type of home if you’re having problems finding a traditional property to suit your needs.
Let Your Fingers Do the Walking
Research online first to see the accessible homes in your area to find out how they are priced — homes in Detroit, Michigan, have a median listing price of $38,000. It can be helpful to use a website with a tool that allows you to plug in the specific featuresyou’re looking for to save yourself some time. After you see what’s out there, consider looking for a real estate agent who specializes in homes with modifications. This will be easier than you think, as the market has come to the realization that this type of expertise is needed.
Cost of Modifications
It’s likely that you’ll have to make some modifications of your own, so it’s important to know what those costs are in order to budget appropriately. The national average cost is $4,848, with a range of anywhere between $1,028 to $8,6667. The low end would be around $146 (think grab bars and an elevated toilet seat) while the high end (a whopping $20,000) covers big-ticket items such as a chair stair lift. Look into Medicare and other programsto help you with funding, and remember that most of your modifications will be tax deductible at the end of the year.
It’s not uncommon for those with a disability to suffer from depression. With that in mind, don’t let accessibility modifications be the only changes you make or look for in a home. Consider a property with a tree-heavy backyard where you can find some solace. Make your living space more peaceful by clearing clutter, strategically placing flowers and plants around the house, popping on soothing music come dinnertime, saying no to electronics at least one hour before bedtime, and leaving cues in each room that remind you to relax and be grateful — like a memento from a vacation for example. Of course, in order to truly treat a depressive condition, consult your doctor so you can establish a recovery plan.