Are You Building a Custom Home to Accommodate a Disability? Read This First
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The primary purpose of building a custom home is to have a home that meets your unique needs and desires. While it’s often a more expensive route, custom homes can save you the time and energy of trying to find the perfect home on the market. And when you have a disability, having a custom home built can be even more advantageous, especially considering that accessible homes on the market are few and far between.
With that said, it’s important to know what you’re getting into if you decide to go with a custom home build. Along with preparing for the process, you will need to factor in your specific needs and find a qualified contractor to pull off the job. Below is some essential information for building a custom home to accommodate your needs when you have a disability.
Taking On a Custom Build
Anytime you buy a new construction home, there are many factors to consider. For example, where will you build? When determining a parcel of land for your new home, you will need to consider things like how far you want it to be from the city center, how big of a yard you want, and whether you’re willing to run sewer and water lines and electricity.
Also, what kind of loan will you qualify for? The FHA offers loans to first-time buyers, but these loans are generally short-term and come with higher interest. And requirements for a high credit score and income are usually more stringent for new construction. Moreover, what is your overall budget for the home? Determining a budget will impact virtually every step of building your ideal home.
When it comes to the actual home build, the entrance is a good place to start. If you use a wheelchair, you will want to be able to enter and exit your home freely and safely. This means that you will need a no-barrier entrance or wheelchair ramp, as well as a front door that measures at least 36 inches.
Countertop and Light Switch Heights
One of the main purposes of building an accessible home is to make everyday activities safe and comfortable. For example, you want to be able to use your countertops and light switches, and in most traditional homes, these things are too high to access in a wheelchair. Particularly in the kitchen and bathrooms, make sure your countertop heights allow comfortable access, which typically falls between 28” and 34” for wheelchair users. And the standard height of 48” for light switches is often too high to access in a wheelchair, so go for 36” to 40”.
Due to being at a lower vantage point, it’s common for wheelchair users to deal with lighting glare in homes and other buildings. To avoid this in your new home, carefully position all the lighting so it can help you navigate each living space without producing glare. And be sure to select high-quality lighting options from sources like Technolamp, which will provide you with superb visibility.
Space is also essential when it comes to building your custom home. The key is to ensure that you have enough room to comfortably maneuver your wheelchair or other mobility devices around the home. In any area that you plan on using in the home, you will want a turn radius of five or six feet. This means that you will need wider hallways and doorways (at least 32”) than many traditional home constructions provide.
Finally, the contractor you choose for your home build is critical. Pick one that is unqualified or untrustworthy, and you will likely have a nightmare of an experience. Ask around your network for trusted contractors, and try to find one with specific expertise building accessible homes. If possible, interview three or more candidates before deciding on the right contractor.
If you need a home that accommodates your disability, a custom build may be the way to go. Consider all the information listed here, and continue your research as you prepare for the process. Your safe and comfortable dream home could be a reality in no time!
Curtis Fisher | tradesbright.org