For people with disabilities, the house hunting process can be time-consuming and difficult. After all, most properties were not constructed according to the principles of universal design and viewing homes that are not accessible can feel discouraging. But despite these challenges, you may be set on owning your own home one day, and this goal is entirely achievable. In fact, maybe you’re already browsing creative decor and layout ideas on HomebyDesigns! With these tips, you’ll be able to prepare for house hunting, connect with a supportive real estate agent, and find a home that you can modify for your needs.
Your First Home
If you’ve purchased a home before, you might already know which tasks take priority. But if you’re a first-time home buyer, you may want to create a detailed to-do list with all of the items you need to check off.
Do your research! Start the process by checking your credit score, and if necessary, put together a plan to improve your score. Communication is key! You’ll also want to communicate with your lender to find out which documents you need – the earlier you get your paperwork together, the better! Set a budget! Outlining your house hunting budget can make the process go smoother and can allow you to find a home that truly fits all your needs. Go over your income, savings, and expenses to see what you can realistically spend on a down payment and monthly mortgage payments. If you’re worried about covering the costs, check out programs that may be able to offer you financial assistance such as Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together, or Modest Needs. Once you’ve figured out your budget, it’s time to start searching for the right real estate agent!
Choosing a Real Estate Agent
The thought of searching for an accessible home can be nerve-wracking, but you do not have to tackle this process all by yourself. Instead, you’ll want to work with a dependable real estate agent who can answer your questions about your local market, set up viewings at homes that meet your requirements, and communicate your needs to home sellers and their listing agents. If you’re unsure of where to begin your search for an agent, you can start by asking homeowners you may know for their recommendations.
What to Look For
Even if you know that you will need to modify your new home before you move in, there are certain property features you will want to look for. You do not want to overspend on modification projects because you closed on a home that will be difficult to remodel for accessibility! Even if you fall in love with a listing for a two-story home, it’s best to view one-story houses instead, unless you’re comfortable with budgeting for an elevator. If you use a mobility aid, prioritize homes that already have hardwood floors installed so that you will not have to have carpeting removed.
Finally, you should also think very carefully about the location of your new home. You may feel safer living in a home that is close to your medical providers and loved ones who you can count on for assistance when you need it. Of course, every home buyer should also consider neighbourhood safety – everyone wants to feel secure when they’re relaxing at home.
Once you’ve found a home that you know you’ll be able to modify, it’s time to begin planning your modification projects! Go over the features and fixtures of each room to evaluate how these spaces will need to be remodeled. For instance, the average bathroom can be a dangerous place for people with disabilities, so DIY Network recommends finding ways to create more space for maneuvering and installing grab bars in areas where you might be at risk of slipping and falling.
Chances are, you’ll also need to remodel your kitchen; plan for wide, unobstructed counter spaces, pull-down shelves, open space beneath your sink, and touchless faucets. Finally, think about how you can design a comfortable and accessible bedroom. For example, picture wide doorways, ceiling lifts to raise and lower your bed, and soft natural lighting to illuminate the entire space.
In addition, you may want to invest in a few smart devices. These gadgets can make it easier to get through your day! Consider purchasing a smart home assistant, a smart thermostat, or even a smart vacuum.
Before moving day arrives, you’ll need to spend some time talking to different contractors to determine who should be in charge of completing your modification projects. Choosing the right contractor can be confusing, so if you want to make sure you’ll be satisfied with your choice, do not rush the process. Popular Mechanics recommends looking up the credentials of any contractors you consider, asking for descriptions of the materials they plan to use for the job, and avoiding contractors who submit very expensive or very cheap project bids.
Choose a Moving Company
When you put together your overall house hunting budget, it’s important to include expenses that you could easily overlook, such as the cost of hiring a moving company. While your loved ones may be able to help you de-clutter, organize, and pack up your home, it’s best to hire movers to handle large items like furniture and to safely transport all of your belongings to your new destination. In order to find a reliable moving company, make sure to read online reviews before hiring anyone – it’s important to see what other customers have said so that you can make an informed decision.
If you have a disability, and you dream of owning your own home someday, you may be concerned that you’ll never find a home with the features you need in your chosen real estate market. But by working with the right estate agent and finding trustworthy contractors for home modification projects, you’ll be able to design the home you’ve always wanted. An accessible home is definitely within your reach!
Do you need inspiration for interior design projects in your accessible home? HomebyDesigns offers plenty of tips, style ideas, and a community where you can connect with other homeowners. Create an account on our website today to begin your design journey!