Living with a Disability: Remodeling Your Home vs. Buying New

Is getting around the house growing harder with time? Or, perhaps you have a disability and are realizing that your current home doesn’t suit your needs. You don’t have to accept living in a home that’s unsafe or uncomfortable. If you’re ready to live in a home that meets your mobility needs, here’s what you need to know.

Searching for Accessible Homes

Homebuilders are increasingly considering the needs of aging adults in home design. As a result, it’s becoming easier to find homes that offer main-level living, open floor plans, step-free entrances, and other basics of accessible design. By purchasing a home that was built using the principles of universal design, buyers can save on home renovations. In most cases, this means shopping for homes built within the past few years. You can learn more about universal design from the National Association of Home Builders.

It’s possible to find accessible homes that are older, but you need to know what you’re looking for. Assess your mobility needs and make a list of the features you require in a home. If you use a wheelchair or walker, your list should include wide doorways and hallways, space to turn around (especially in kitchens and bathrooms), lowered light switches and raised electrical outlets, and kitchen work and storage areas that are lower than standard. If your mobility problems affect your hands and wrists, lever door handles, keyless entry systems, rocker light switches, and D-shaped cabinet pulls are features to prioritize.

The federal government has established several laws and administrations for the sole purpose of protecting your rights as a disabled homebuyer, no matter the nature of your disability. Some real estate search websites allow users to filter for accessible homes. Use this filter to narrow down the listings you must search through. However, don’t rule out other homes. Because accessibility isn’t on every seller’s radar, there could be great accessible homes that aren’t tagged as such. New Mobility also recommends two sites designed specifically for buyers with disabilities. However, results are limited. Your best bet for local housing is connecting with a real estate agent in your area.

As you visit homes you’re interested in, pay close attention to how well you’re able to navigate and use the space. Did you find yourself stumbling over high door thresholds or getting tired walking to an upstairs master bedroom? If so, it may not be the house for you. However, keep in mind that some things are relatively cheap and easy to renovate. Don’t let a problem that’s inexpensive to fix stop you from purchasing an otherwise ideal home.

Remodeling to Accommodate a Disability

If you’re unable to find a suitable home for sale, you may decide to stay in your current home or purchase a new home with the intent to remodel. When making your decision, calculate the cost of the necessary renovations. Nationally, the average cost for disability accommodation remodeling is $5,233. If your existing home would cost significantly more to modify, it may be smarter to buy a new home that requires fewer renovations.

The most costly projects include changing floor plans, installing home elevators, and major kitchen and bathroom remodels. If possible, find a home that doesn’t require modifications in these areas. If all you have to remodel is minor rewiring, installing ramps and grab bars, and updating hardware, you’ll save thousands.

Consider how you’ll finance your remodel. If you’re remodeling a home you already own, you can secure financing through a private loan or home equity line of credit. Some programs, like HUD Property Improvement Loans, help individuals with lower credit scores secure loans for safety and livability remodeling. If you’re purchasing a new home to remodel, you can buy and renovate a home with a single loan known as a 203(k) rehab loan. A 203(k) loan can also be used to refinance your existing home.

Living in a home that doesn’t meet your mobility needs is more than inconvenient. If you suffer a fall or injury at home, your health could be permanently affected. If living independently is important to you, creating a safe living environment should be your top priority.

Image via Unsplash

Article provided by Medina at

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