How to Find or Create a Wheelchair-Accessible Home

Blog: How to Find or Create

When someone needs a wheelchair, they and their family may need to make some tough decisions. Should they move to a ranch where everything is on one floor? Should they find a home that’s already been designed for a wheelchair user? Or would it make sense to renovate their current residence?

For this week’s blogpost, we researched each of these options. Here’s what we learned:

Option 1: Moving to a ranch home

Finding a ranch home, especially in the southern and western regions of the United States, is relatively easy. Keep in mind, however, that most one-story homes will still need remodeling to make them fully accessible. For example, some ranch homes have steps to their entryways so homeowners may need to add wheelchair ramps or lifts. Doorways and hallways in ranch homes may need widening to accommodate wheelchairs; bathrooms probably need expansion; and shower entrances must be renovated so that they are flush with the bathroom floor. While such renovations can be costly, some states offer programs that can offset the costs. Medicaid may also provide some financial assistance.

Option 2: Finding a home that’s already accessible.

Unfortunately, homes that are truly accessible for wheelchair users are hard to come by. “I see people who think they’re going to find that perfect accessible house, and I have to tell them that it’s just not out there,” says Johnson, a C5 quad and realtor who was interviewed by New Mobility magazine.

James Lee, another wheelchair user and realtor interviewed by New Mobility, pointed out that many homes that are advertised as wheelchair accessible are far from it. Both realtors recommended that homebuyers seeking accessible homes find realtors who are wheelchair users since they are more likely to see through misleading home listings and understand what wheelchair users need.

Option 3: Renovating the current residence

If you would prefer to remain in your home, start with a comprehensive home assessment by a professional who understands ADA compliance and pays attention to your particular wants and needs. Make sure that you feel confident in the assessor’s judgment and comfortable with the solutions they propose. According to the UDS Foundation, accessibility renovations may include the following:

  • The addition of ramps
  • Widening of doorways and hallways
  • Accessible bathrooms and bedrooms
  • Automatic door openers
  • New (smooth) flooring and/or low-pile carpeting
  • Stair and porch lifts
  • Accessible lighting
  • Emergency exits