Guest Post: Three top tips for finding a suitable accessible home
Finding a new home can be tough at the best of times. But when you add in the extra work and stress of trying to find an accessible property with the specific features and adaptations that you require to live independently, it can feel near impossible. This is the infuriating reality faced by disabled home hunters each and every day.
There are over 12.9 million disabled people in the UK, yet according to the most recent English Housing Survey in 2014, just 7% of UK homes meet the criteria to be deemed even ‘visitable’ by persons with a disability or specific access needs.
Part of the problem with accessible housing in the UK is
that the market is poorly categorised, fragmented, and quite frankly baffling
without a wealth of accurate and detailed information at your fingertips.
However, with the correct information, a little guidance and some preparation, finding an accessible home could be easier than you think. Check out these simple, practical tips to help you understand your options and set you on the right track to finding your dream home.
Tip 1 - Understand accessible housing categories
All wheelchair-accessible or adaptable homes should have a specific category or “rating” that tells home-hunters what level of accessibility the property offers. It is really important to take the time to get to grips with these categories and work out which one best suits your access needs.
The three main accessible housing categories are:
Category 1: Visitable Dwellings (sometimes referred to as ‘General Needs’) – The vast majority of accessible housing in the UK fits into this category and will not be suitable to live in if you are a wheelchair user or have limited mobility.
Category 2: Accessible and Adaptable Dwellings – These properties are not fully wheelchair accessible but can be easily and cheaply adapted to meet the occupier’s needs.
3: Wheelchair User Dwellings – These properties are designed specifically
for wheelchair users and will include the highest levels of accessibility out
of all 3 categories.
Top Tip for
Londoners: There are special accessible housing policies that only apply to
new build properties in London. Any new build development must contain a
minimum 10% of accessible units and they each have an ‘access rating’ from A-F
– with A representing a fully wheelchair accessible home, and F representing a
General Needs property with no access features. So consider looking at new
build homes during your search.
Tip 2 - Pinpoint your access needs
Think about your access needs and try to pinpoint specific features wherever possible. Do you need counter-tops and work surfaces to be lowered? Do you need ramped access to the property? Will you need ceiling hoists or grab rails?
Make a list and break it down into ‘immediate must-haves’
and ‘future adaptations’ – this way you will have a clear plan of what to look
for when you start searching for properties.
Tip 3 - Think about what you like as well as what you need
Forget about access for a moment – It’s really important that you take some time to think about your dream home without getting bogged down in access requirements.
What style of property do you want? Where would your perfect
location be? Have you fallen in love with the character-filled features of a
period property, or do you prefer the sleek modern style of a new build?
Just because you’re looking for an accessible property,
doesn’t mean you shouldn’t love the home you live in!
If you’re looking for a new home or want to find out more about
accessible properties, TheHouseShop.com
and Disability Horizons have
recently teamed up to launch ‘The
Ultimate Guide to Finding an Accessible Home’! It’s a 23-page free
downloadable guide that covers everything you need to know about accessible
housing and also includes printable checklists to help you plan your move.
Have you got an accessible housing success story to share?
Have you experienced any particular problems when searching for an accessible
home? Let us know in the comments below.
Got an experience to share or need some advice about accessible housing? Visit our 'housing and independent living' category.