A person keeping his hand on the door knob with keys held in his hand

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Simplify Your Accessible Housing Search by Looking for a Diamond in the Rough

An accessible home isn’t the easiest type of real estate to come by. However, if you open your search to a home that’s potentially modifiable, your options broaden dramatically. Here are some ideas for finding a property that’s a gem in the making.

Start With Structure

There are a few basic essentials that suggest a property is amenable to accessibility modifications. First and foremost is a single-story structure. Navigating stairs is challenging for a wide variety of people with disabilities, so eliminating them is ideal. This makes a bedroom and bathroom on the building’s entry-level a must. Similarly, a stepless entry can ease coming and going.

When examining your options, try to think outside the box. For instance, a home without an appropriate bedroom on the entry-level might offer a dining room that could be modified to meet your needs. There are a couple of relatively simple ways to adjust homes that do not offer a stepless entryway as well, such as a wheelchair ramp or an outdoor lift.

Accessible bathroom remodels can be somewhat complicated, but Easterseals Crossroads says focusing on a few key points will make a world of difference. For instance, a curbless shower or walk-in tub is best, anti-scald water valves help keep water temperatures safe, and grab bars and non-slip flooring help to avoid falls. Assess your options wisely; a small bathroom remodel typically runs from $3,500 to $7,000, whereas an upscale remodel could be as much as $62,000.

Functional Flooring

Whatever home you choose, it should allow you to move about freely and comfortably from room to room. Much of this hinges on the flooring installed. As SFGate explains, those with accessibility concerns typically benefit from a smooth surface such as hardwood, tile, or vinyl plank flooring. Generally speaking, soft, padded floors—such as plush carpet—are best avoided.

If you find a home that otherwise offers much of what you want, flooring shouldn’t necessarily be a dealbreaker. For instance, hardwood floor installation costs homeowners an average of $6 to $22 per square foot. Of course, there are several factors that can affect the price, like the expanse of floor, type of wood selected, and any subflooring repairs needed. If you take some measurements and shop around, you should be able to get a rough idea of how much you can expect to spend before you ever purchase the house.

Wide Open Spaces

When it comes to being able to navigate comfortably throughout your new home, there is another key component to consider: an open floor plan. Having wider than average hallways and doorways allows you to maneuver easily if you’re using any assistive equipment.

There is a simple solution for narrow door frames in the form of offset hinges, which are reasonably low-cost and easily installed. Hallways, on the other hand, can’t really be widened, although you might be able to have non-load bearing walls removed easily enough. If you decide to go that route, you should be able to hire a well-versed handyman to do the work. Keep in mind the median cost for a handyman is $20 per hour

There is a smaller-scale project that’s very affordable and boosts accessibility tremendously: replacing doorknobs with lever-style handles. This simple change is a boon to anyone who has trouble gripping, can only use one hand to open a door, and/or may lose balance in the process of moving through the doorway. This is another job a handyman can do for you, and it gives a good bang for your buck.

When it’s time to find an accessible home, the key is to focus on a property’s potential. Look at the overall structure, consider flooring options, and examine what remodeling options are affordable and appropriate. Your diamond in the rough is out there, and now that you know what to look for you’re sure to find it!

Written by: Patrick Young