Steps for Designing and Building a Custom Accessible Home
By Patrick Young
Unfortunately, most houses aren’t built with accessibility in mind. As a result, it can be very hard to find the perfect home if you have a disability or you’re planning for a future of aging in place. Building your own home, however, is a great way to get the accessibility features you need. If you’re considering a custom home build, make sure you fully understand the steps involved. Planning ahead will ensure you hire the right people for the job, incorporate the most important accessibility features into your design, and stay under budget.
Assemble Your Team
You will work with several different professionals throughout the design and construction of your new home. Some of the key players on your home building team will include plumbers, electricians, roofers, painters, drywallers, landscapers, interior designers, and architects.
First and foremost, however, you will need to hire a home builder. A professional home builder will make your dreams a reality, managing and coordinating the people who will build your home from the ground up. Hiring a homebuilder can also save you money on your custom construction project. Homebuilders typically rely on a network of professionals they trust to work efficiently and get things done right the first time. They also maintain relationships with material suppliers, so they can often get a better price for your building materials.
You can find local homebuilders and check out online reviews from previous customers on websites like HomeAdvisor. Just be sure to interview your top candidates first! It’s important that you and your homebuilder are clear on the scope of the project, as well as the project timeline and budget, before breaking ground on your new home.
Prepare Your Home Design
As you get started on the design of your accessible home, think carefully about the features that will allow you to thrive in your new space. Some basic accessibility features to consider include hard flooring, zero-step entrances, wide doorways, a walk-in shower, and big windows to let in plenty of natural light. You can also add helpful features to your kitchen by lowering the countertops, installing a shallow sink, and maximizing your available floor space. Remember to include small but significant accessibility features in your design as well, like grab-bars, lever-style door handles, and lowered light switches throughout the home.
An architect will play a key role in helping you design a home that is both accessible and aesthetically pleasing. It’s important to ask your architect a few interview questions before hiring them. For example, Cultured Stone recommends asking your architect for references from both former customers and contractors they have worked with. Talking to their references will tell you a lot about their communication skills and whether they can stick to a project budget.
Budget for Your Build
Before you start hiring people to help with your custom home build, make sure you have a realistic budget. Building an accessible home is an expensive project, especially if you’re planning to install pricey accessibility features like a home elevator. Dave Ramsey recommends budgeting for every part of the home building process, from buying a plot of land and preparing the site right down to the final interior touches and exterior landscaping. Don’t forget about hidden fees for things such as water and sewer inspections, interior finishes, and the installation of major systems, like your HVAC.
Nothing is easy about building your own home from scratch. But once you make it through, you’ll be glad you did it! Building a custom home is the only way to gain access to a home that meets your needs and lifestyle perfectly. So, take it one step at a time, hire reputable professionals to help you out, and budget thoroughly before getting started. You’ll be relaxing in your brand new accessible home before you know it!