House hunting is difficult at the best of times. Now imagine reducing the pool of homes available to you by 95 percent. This is the issue that millions of Americans face when it comes to finding their new home, as fewer than 5 percent of homes in the United States are accessible to people with disabilities.
Furthermore, according to the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire, New Mexico is among the states with the highest concentrations of disabled persons. For this reason, we aim to help New Mexicans with disabilities find the perfect accessible home for you and your family, no matter the disability.
Make A List Of Your Needs
Your first step should be to outline what you need from your house. Think beyond the obvious. For example, for a wheelchair user, the obvious is step-free access throughout the house and wide doorways. However, there are smaller details you should look out for such as the placement of switches and electrical outlets, whether corners are easy to navigate, or whether cupboards are reachable. Make sure you budget for these extra costs. For example, in Meridian, you’ll likely pay $103 - $397 for outlet and switch services.
Separate The “Must-Haves” From The “Nice-To-Haves”
Ideally, all accessibility features are a must-have. However, realistically, you should pick one or two features you can’t do without. These should ideally be structural features, ones that are either difficult or expensive to change. For example, you can narrow things down to single-story homes only, or you could decide you want large open layouts. This guide to separating house hunting wants and needs can help steer you in the right direction.
Accept You Will Need To Modify
It is unlikely you will find the perfect accessible home, in the perfect location, for the perfect price. You will need to compromise, but you will also need to make sure your home is safe and convenient for you. This means you will have to make modifications. These range from small add-ons, such as grab bars in showers, to larger projects such as changing all the flooring in the house. SFGate has an extensive record of common modifications and can be a good starting point if you are unsure of what you will need.
Remodeling for accessibility can run into the thousands of dollars, particularly if you need to make any structural, electric, or plumbing changes. For example, just widening a hallway could cost up to $4,500. Before you choose a house, list out the modifications you would have to make, price them, and add this figure to how much you intend to offer. This is the real figure you will be paying.
The Extra Details
Once you find the perfect home, there are a few things you will want to do before moving in. First, you should make sure you have all the support you need when it comes to the actual move. You are probably already planning on hiring a moving company, but consider a packing company as well (or, even better, one that does both), which can make the whole process a smooth one.
Second, because it's an unfortunate fact that people with disabilities are at higher risk of being targets for crime, you'll want to make sure you assess your home security before moving in. This includes windows with locks, deadbolts or chain locks you can easily maneuver, quality outdoor lighting for nighttime, and, most importantly, new locks. In fact, having your home rekeyed should be the first thing you do after closing on your house. You can easily find a highly rated, reputable locksmith with a quick online search.
Ultimately, looking for an accessible home is similar to any house hunting process. You need patience, good planning skills, and a willingness to compromise. If you need support at any point, don’t hesitate to reach out to disability associations in your area, or to look for an experienced realtor to support you personally in your search.