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House Hunting? Think ahead – Plan for Later Years by Considering Accessibility Features

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by Ellen Blake

Priorities when buying a home

What is your priority when looking for a new home? Good schools? Modern Kitchen? Backyard? How about abundant closet space? I want all those things too, but I need more. I want everyone to feel welcome and comfortable in my home. Though many people share this sentiment, I rarely hear people list accessibility as a priority.

Most people, particularly young couples, do not put accommodations high on their list. In fact, it’s often not even on their radar. Why would it be? I’ll give you a few reasons you may have overlooked.

Reasons to buy a home with accessibility features:

  1. A sports injury may require you to use crutches or a wheelchair temporarily.
  2. Friends or family with a disability may visit.
  3. Your parents may need to live with you in later years.
  4. You may decide you want to grow old in this house.
  5. Life with small children is easier in a barrier free home.
  6. Homes with accommodations are beautiful as well as functional these days.
  7. If doing a new build or remodel, incorporating accessibility does not mean more expensive.
  8. Great resale value – with the aging population in the U.S steadily climbing, accessible homes are in high demand.


Unfortunately, the word “accessibility’ seems to conjure up visions of old people and sterile environments for many. For that reason, I prefer to use the term “user-friendly”  or “adaptability” instead.”Visitability” is another word we hear a lot lately as well.

A completely accessible environment based on ADA guidelines may not be practical or necessary for your situation. However, simple inclusive design features are extremely useful. For example, wider doorways and zero-step entries are helpful for both the new mom with a baby carriage and the wheelchair user. Door levers in place of knobs are functional whether you have weak upper body strength or an armload of laundry. Homes built with an open design concept with clear sight lines make life easier for everyone by eliminating a lot of the barriers often found in homes. Single-family homes are not required to meet the strict ADA standards and those who live in the house can therefore modify as much or as little as they wish to meet their lifestyle needs.

The Bottom LIne

Look for user-friendly features the next time you go house-hunting. We see more and more people incorporating adaptive design principles into homes and you may not need to settle for “good enough”. These principles make good sense and save money in the long run. Architects, builders, realtors and policy planners are getting onboard and are excited about the possibility of creating a world that encourages greater participation in life for all.

originally posted July 8, 2018
updated October 11, 2021

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