The search for the perfect home is rife with challenges
These often pale in comparison to the challenges that come with finding accessible housing. Despite the government's best efforts in putting in place pieces of legislation that govern accessible construction, there is still a dearth of housing for the special need's community. This not only makes the search for accessible housing more difficult, but it also forces seniors and people with disabilities to compromise amidst inadequacies.
This is not to say that you will be hard-pressed to find the accessible home of your dreams. Rather, it just means that you need to take certain measures to ensure your needs and requirements are satisfied. Here is how you can get started on your search.
Work with the Pros
When it comes to accessible housing, it is important to recognize right off the bat that not all real estate agents are created equal. While an agent can be a godsend when navigating the daunting process of house hunting and, subsequently, house buying, working with the wrong one may turn out to be more trouble than it is worth, too.
With this in mind, it's more than wise to work with an agent who is actually knowledgeable and experienced when it comes to accessible housing. Be aware that the Fair Housing Act (FHA) will protect you against discrimination, and the right agent will be able to ensure that your rights are respected and your needs met. Moreover, agents who have experience in this niche know exactly what to look for in terms of accessibility features, as well as exactly where to look. Alternatively, you can also undertake the search yourself, if you are so inclined. These days, there are several sites designed to make your search for accessible homes considerably easier, so make sure to leverage these avenues, as well.
Put Your Needs First
Now, one thing you should bear in mind is accessible homes do not follow a set template, which makes it crucial to really take stock of the features that you need based on your own condition and limitation. After all, the objective is to make your everyday life easier, and your home should be able to make that happen. At the most fundamental level, the bathroom should conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines. These standards govern things like the installation of grab bars in the lavatory (installation usually costs $100 - $300), as well as provide recommendations on toilet access, rotating spaces, and more. It’s also wise to really look into accessible kitchen design, which makes efficient use of floor space and lighting, as well as dictate how appliances, cabinetry, and fixtures are best adapted for various disabilities.
Finally, do not dismiss a home that does not have some of the features on your list right away. In many cases, a home can be made safer and more accessible with just a few key renovations, such as the simple addition of concrete ramps or pathways. It is definitely a good idea to do due diligence beforehand. Find out how much such projects will cost, and factor in the home's purchase price so you have a clearer picture of the total expense and determine if it's within your budget. To illustrate, concrete costs around $108 per cubic yard, whereas the labor costs to pour concrete will be between $8 and $18 per square foot, ultimately depending on whether you opt for patterns stamped on the concrete, workmanship, and the like.
Universal home design is also worth considering. Also known as "inclusive" design, this may actually prove to be a prudent option as it paves the way for any accessibility modifications in the future, which will come in particularly handy as your needs and preferences change. Suffice it to say, don't let the challenges of finding accessible homes be a deterrent in your search. Rather, consider this as an opportunity to be really particular and, subsequently, find the perfect home with the right features for you. Ultimately, the trouble will be worth it!
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