Finding a home that’s disabled-accessible can be difficult – locating one in your area that meets all of your criteria, such as accessibility, price range and square footage, makes it even harder. There are few online resources, and finding a real estate agent who specializes in accessible housing can be a tricky prospect. Sometimes, listings don’t even include all of the information needed to assess a property’s accessibility. Consequently, disabled buyers often have to do considerable research and show great patience when looking for a suitable new home.
Online resources aren’t nearly as widespread for disabled individuals as they are for other homebuyers. Barrier Free Home and Accessible Properties are two of the few national web-based search aids for accessible properties, sites that allow you to seek houses with accessibility features based on extensive search filters, including ADA compliance, number of bathrooms, width of hallways, entryway accessibility, and much more. The HUD (Housing and Urban Development) website provides basic information about handicapped-accessible housing and about your rights as a buyer. It may be difficult to locate a suitable home, but you can rest assured that the federal government has established several laws and administrations for the sole purpose of protecting your rights as a disabled home buyer, no matter the nature of your disability.
The number of realtors who have earned certification working with accessible properties has grown somewhat in recent years. In many cases, realtors are your most valuable and indispensable resource, because they have firsthand knowledge of properties in their areas and an appreciation of what disabled individuals need to live safely and comfortably. Do your research in finding an experienced realtor, someone who can help you narrow your search and locate viable properties.
It’s important to note that most older homes weren’t constructed with disabled access in mind. You may find a property that meets your pricing and size needs, and which can be adapted for accessibility, but keep in mind the cost of modifications. For instance, the average cost for a bathroom remodel in Woodland Hills, CA can be as much as $24,976.
There are several modifications that are especially important for a disabled individual, such as the width of doors and hallways, unimpeded door thresholds, and bathroom accessibility features. Doorways need to be from 32 to 36 inches wide, with enough space for a wheelchair to turn around in the hallways, and transitions from room to room need to be level and without impediments. If opening and closing doors is a problem, check into the possibility of installing pocket doors, which are simply slid inside the wall.
Safety is particularly important in the bathroom, the site of most in-home accidents. A walk-in or roll-in shower is an optimal modification for both convenience and safety. Tub or shower surfaces must have no-slip pads or strips that prevent falls, with grab rails installed within easy reach on the wall in the shower and alongside the toilet bowl. Bear in mind that most toilets are 17 inches high, which is generally too low for individuals in a wheelchair. A pedestal-style sink is usually optimal for disabled individuals because it provides sufficient leg room underneath, though many of them can be a little too high for individuals in wheelchairs. Consider a wall-mounted lavatory instead.
Grants and financial assistance can be accessed by disabled individuals looking to make home modifications. The United States Department of Agriculture and Department of Veterans Affairs offer such grant funding, while the American Red Cross and Individual Adaptive Equipment Grant from the Travis Roy Foundation are other sources of financial assistance.
The needs of disabled home buyers are gradually being recognized and provided for by web-based resources and realtors. Finding the right home, one that meets your specific needs, still requires patience and diligent research, but there are realtors who have the experience to help you find your dream home.
Article provided by Medina at Accessiville.org