Whether you need to accommodate a mobility issue, are taking care of an aging parent, or even want age in place yourself in the future, it’s important to find an accessible home. Many homes work great for accommodating a mobility issue, but some will always be better than others. Finding a barrier-free home is challenging, but these tips can help you start your search off right.
Make a List of Musts
Any house-hunting endeavor should start by making a list of must-haves. It’s easy to identify what you want in a house. However, it’s much harder to differentiate between what counts as a need and a want. A need-to-have feature is something that you simply can’t compromise on, whereas a nice-to-have feature isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker, even if you’d like your home to have it.
Many home buyers make the mistake of putting too many things on their must-have list, which considerably limits their home search. If you are having trouble finding enough listings that suit your needs, don’t be afraid to be flexible when it comes to things such as the style of house you want or its age.
Know What Features to Avoid
As you jot down your list of needs and wants and start looking at listings, you’ll likely start noticing features that simply won’t work for you. Depending on your situation, certain design features can be hard to work around when accommodating a mobility issue. At the same time, some design choices can be reversed with renovations, but it’s just not worth the cost.
If you need to use a mobility device, deal breakers might be things such as a sunken den, an excessively steep driveway, or inaccessible landscaping that provides no potential for spending time outdoors. Homes with multiple stories may present a challenge as well, especially if you don’t want to install a stair lift (which typically costs $3,000 – $4,000) or aren’t able to use a lift safely.
Have an Open Mind About Renovations
While some remodeling jobs aren’t worth the trouble or expense, other renovations can transform an okay home into your dream house. For example, a home with lots of carpeting might look like a deal-breaker at first, but it’s easy to hire someone to install new hardwood floors throughout the house. Hardwood floors are easier to clean and provide much more maneuverability.
You’ll pay about $6 to $22 per square foot to have hardwood floors installed. Knowing the square footage of the room you want to redo will help you set a realistic budget. Keep in mind that no matter the size of the room, your cost will also depend on the materials <strong>you choose. Mid-range materials like American cherry, oak, and teak are popular for their durability. Lower-quality woods might be more affordable, but keep in mind that they will show scratches and wear more quickly.
Putting in hard floors can be a bit expensive, but don’t forget about the boost it will give to your home’s resale value. According to The Spruce, there isn’t much hard data on the return on investment (ROI) you can get from installing hard floors. However, real estate agents report that it’s significantly easier to sell a home that has hardwood floors.
Many homes already have great flooring, but need improvement in other areas. The Balance points out that there are many ways to make a home more accessible such as widening doors or putting in a new bathroom vanity that provides better clearance under the sink.
Don’t Forget About Location
The neighborhood you choose is sometimes just as important as finding a home that checks all your boxes. When shopping for a home, be sure to research what amenities the neighborhood has to offer. Something such as new sidewalks, a nearby park, or easy access to transportation and shopping might be the selling point you didn’t expect.
Finding an accessible dream home might be a challenge, but it’s far from impossible. By knowing your must-haves, considering the neighborhood, and keeping your mind open about renovations, it’s much easier to find your perfect home.
(A huge thank you to Patrick Young, for guest writing this wonderful and very informative post!)