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House hunting is always a challenge. But when you’re specifically searching for an accessible home, it can feel like you’ll never get the keys to that perfect place. People with disabilities and senior home buyers can easily get frustrated by the lack of houses designed to be accessible.

However, it’s entirely possible to find a home that fulfills your most important requirements, and then modify certain rooms to meet your accessibility needs. How can you find — and modify — an accessible home? The following tips for house hunters seeking accessibility will guide you through every step of the process.

Work Out Your Budget

Before you can decide whether a particular house is right for you, you need to determine exactly how much you can afford to put down and spend on monthly payments going forward. Deciding on a budget is the first step to finding the perfect home. Furthermore, knowing how much you can spend will help you narrow down the neighborhoods you can afford. You may also want to contact organizations that provide assistance for home buyers with disabilities.

Once you’ve broken down the numbers, start researching the St. Augustine real estate market, and check out the asking prices; for example, homes in the area sold for an average of $315,000 over the past 30 days. By doing some online research, you’ll get a good idea of the size of the homes within your budget and where those properties are located.

Search for Key Features

Attend several open houses to view homes in your price range. While you’re there, take note of certain features; for example, you should prioritize viewing single-story homes, and if you will need a ramp to access your front door, look for properties with plenty of open space in the front yard. In addition, having a covered entryway can provide you with extra protection in case of bad weather. According to SFGate, thick carpets can make it difficult for wheelchair users to maneuver. If you use a mobility aid, moving into a home that has hardwood floors is ideal.

Bathroom Modifications

It’s rare to find a house with a bathroom that has been modified with accessible features, so you should prepare to hire contractors who can renovate this room after you’ve closed on a home. You’ll probably want to have grab bars (which you can find for as low as $20 at home improvement stores like Lowe’s) installed in the shower and beside the toilet for safety and support. If you use a wheelchair, you may need to have your sink lowered with an opened space beneath it for easy access. You could also benefit from having a wall-hung toilet and bidet. Furthermore, your shower might need to be redesigned for roll-in access.

Accessible Kitchen

Someone with a disability may have difficulty getting around and cooking in a conventionally designed kitchen. Modifications will likely be necessary. According to the Senior List, a touch faucet is a convenient kitchen fixture, and removing the cabinets below the sink will create space for wheelchair users. Installing pull-out shelves in cabinets can make it easier to reach and grasp everything you need to cook, and having an oven door that opens to the side rather than forwards is generally safer for anyone with a mobility aid.

Finally, don’t forget to consider the lighting. Having a bright, well-lit kitchen will help prevent accidents and injuries. You can even add task lighting in areas where you’ll prepare food, and install LED light strips underneath your cabinets to help spot safety hazards on the floor.

When you’re poring over your local real estate listings for an accessible home, you might come up short. Instead, make it your goal to put down an offer on a house that can be easily modified, and seek out funding sources that will help you finance those renovations. Most homes are not constructed for accessibility, but with the right resources and a little creativity, there is nothing stopping you from upgrading your new home to cater to your personal needs.

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