12 Tips for Buying or Modifying an Accessible Home

This week’s blog post is a little different. I was asked to write a blog post for Able USA. I decided to do this because disability has affected my life.   

My father-in-law was in a wheelchair for the last years of his life. He lived in a rest home, but he came to visit us almost every week.  Our house was not set up at all for his wheelchair.  We had narrow steps leading up to our house and then all of our doorways were very narrow too.


This meant we had to carry him into the house, then bring in his wheelchair. It also meant that he could only be in the main living areas.  

While not wheelchair related, a couple of years ago I went temporarily blind. This gave me a completely new perspective on my house and how things are laid out.


So, that’s why I decided to help out with this post.  Please share to anyone who has been affected.

Photo by Marcus Aurelius

Tip 1 – Find a Great Real Estate Agent

Looking for the accessible home of your dreams will likely be a great motivator when you first begin your search, but you may find that the pickings are quite slim. This is why it’s a great idea to find the right real estate agent who can narrow down your search and find homes that are either built for differently-abled people or can be easily modified. Finding the right person who understands your needs will make a huge difference in the success of your search.

Tip 2 – Consider an Existing Home

Buying a new home is an exciting prospect but finding one that suits your needs for accessibility can be challenging. It may be difficult to find a house that’s perfect. You might have luck finding a home that can be modified for your requirements.

Tip 3 – Consider Assistance Programs

If you’re a first-time home buyer, be sure to consider your budget and whether you might be eligible for any assistance programs to help you buy your home or make modifications.

Tip 4 – Make a List of Non-Negotiables

Accessible homes are often created using “universal design” methods, which aim to be barrier-free in all aspects. While it may be tough to tick all the boxes, you should work with your real estate agent to make a list of non-negotiables. This will help weed out homes that aren’t right for your needs and will help your agent find gems in the market. Some possible non-negotiable items could include a single-story floor plan, wide doorways, and easy street-level access. 

Most homes deemed accessible will have an open layout, wide hallways and doorways, and will be on a single floor. The basic bones of a house are hard to change, so consider putting layout on your list of non-negotiables.

Tip 5 – Identify Possible Modifications

During your home search, if certain homes meet most of your needs but are lacking in a few areas, think about possible modifications or renovations that would make it more appropriate. Areas of the house that are easily renovated include the kitchen,bathroom, and bedrooms.


The kitchen is one area of your house that should be designed to suit your needs. An accessible kitchen has lower countertops,cabinets that can be accessed at chair-height, and appliances that are withinreach. Flooring should be another consideration: hardwood or ceramic tiles are best for wheelchair movement.

Tip 6 – Check Bathroom Dimensions


Be sure to check bathroom dimensions when you’re considering a home. Wheelchair users will need a bathroom that’s wide enough to turn around in and should be outfitted with railings and a seat for the shower.Countertops, sinks, and mirrors should also be at appropriate heights for wheelchair users.

Tip 7 – Add a Ramp

The entranceway can also be modified for mosthouses: a ramp leading to the front door can be built fairly easily.Consider hiring a professional builder to make this addition—you’ll need it to be sturdy and safe for daily use. If possible, get quotes on any required renovations before you buy a home so you can make a realistic budget.

Tip 8 – Shop Around

Be sure to shop around and compare homes. Itcan be tempting to purchase a home “as is” to get a better price, but these homes often have major defects and issues, so you’re likely best off avoiding them.

Tip 9 – Organize your Paperwork in Advance

If this is your first home purchase, there area number of things to remember as you prepare to find a new home. Important considerations for first-time homebuyers include checking your credit score,organizing important paperwork your lender might need, and determining what you can realistically afford for your home.

Tip 10 – Be Flexible and Resourceful

Buying an accessible home requires some flexibility and resourcefulness. If a home ticks nine out of 10 boxes for your needs, consider getting some modifications that will make it accessible for you.

Tip 11 – Get Quotes Early

Be sure to get quotes on modifications before getting too deep into the buying process, and remember to get organized with your paperwork before you work with a lender. Be sure to also check out assistance programs designed to help differently-abled homeowners.

Tip 12 – Celebrate Your New Home

If you have any questions about the subject of this blog post, please contact Able USA if you live in the States. There are many other services available in other countries but I could not list them here. Able USA would be a good starting point should you need assistance.

I hope you found this information useful

If so….. 




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March 25, 2021