Buying a Home
When searching for a home, work with a real estate professional and consider what features you need, what features you would prefer, and what features you may be able to renovate for.
This checklist highlights several main features to look for when searching for a home to rent or buy. For example, single-floor living typically provides the most flexibility, so bungalows and single-floor condominiums and townhouses are desirable.
The accessibility you need now or may need in future will depend on your mobility devices and the nature of your disability or illness. Remember: when you are taking stock of your needs, it is important to think ahead to your future possible needs, in addition to your current ones.
During your search it will help to look for the following terms in real estate listings: wheelchair, barrier-free, accessible, zero-step, zero-threshold, mobility, and/or adaptable. Aging-related terms including aging-in-place or age-friendly, can also reflect accessibility features in listings.
Realtors Back to Top
Your best bet while looking for a home that suits your accessibility needs is to find an informed realtor.
This list features realtors who Accessible Housing has worked with directly. We are confident in their ability to provide solutions that are sensitive to accessibility needs.
(If you are a realtor who is interested in being featured on this list, please contact us. Note: To qualify under the vetting process, professionals featured are required to work directly with Accessible Housing.)
Get more information about realtors and about buying and selling homes through the Alberta Real Estate Association.
Combining Professional Expertise Back to Top
It is worthwhile to have a health professional, such as an occupational therapist, participate in your housing search in combination with a knowledgeable real estate professional. You can make better-informed decisions by integrating their collective expertise about a house’s suitability for you or the viability of renovations.
In the same way, you can factor the cost of renovations into your purchase price and budget accordingly from the outset by having an accessibility designer or architect and a contractor view a home to advise you on necessary renovations. When purchasing, remember to get a copy of the home plans if possible. They make the renovation and adaptation process faster and less expensive.
Buying from Plans or Building New Back to Top
You will have the most influence over a home’s accessibility if you can build or buy from plans. Tailor-made solutions, while potentially more expensive up front, can ensure you receive exactly what you need. This approach can ultimately be more cost-effective in the end.
Buying from Plans
If you are buying from plans in a multi-unit building such as a condominium or townhouse, purchasing from plans sometimes allows you to make specific requests of the builder for your unit, such as widened doorways or zero-threshold showers.
Planning a New Home
There are many helpful resources available to you during the planning stage of building a single-family dwelling. This is important, because accessibility is still not well understood by most people in the construction industry. And even the best-laid plans can get lost in translation.
It is a good idea to have an occupational therapist and a designer or architect with experience in accessibility review the plans. Working together, they can help catch costly errors. If you anticipate needing many accessibility features, consider hiring an architect with a background in accessibility from the start of your planning. If you use or may use a mobility device and want to avoid design or construction errors, make sure you have clear and consistent communication with the builder. Use drawings and photographs to illustrate your requests.
If you need or may need a porch lift, elevator or other piece of equipment to be part of your home, include the vendor in the design process. This is vital, as the vendor will know the specifications for the product and can communicate them accurately to the builder.
Where it is possible, build accessibility in from the beginning. It is typically much less expensive than retrofitting an existing home