By: Patrick Young
When you have special needs, buying a new home may not be your best option. Short of a custom project, most houses have not been built with wheelchairs, visual impairments, or other disabilities in mind. And because you want to feel at home in your home, building may be your best bet. Here are some things to think about as you begin your journey to homeownership via new construction.
Start with the right team
You can’t build a house by yourself, so you’ll want to tap into the many professionals available that can help you design and build the property of your dreams. A new home construction contractor should have the capabilities and experience to provide you with everything you need to make your life more comfortable. This might include single-story plans or the ability to create a custom floor plan using 3-D software so that you will get an accurate image of your future dwelling. Part of enlisting a builder means due diligence and speaking to several companies to find the right fit. Once you have a few candidates narrowed down, touch base on everything from timeline to price to ensure you are all on the same page.
Define your needs
Defining what you need in a home is easier said than done. Much of what you can and can’t do comes down to budget. As a general rule, new construction is costlier than a pre-existing home. This is due in part to the need to purchase land and pay for excavation, permits, and inspections. When you build, you also have to cover the cost of connecting to the city sewer service or adding a septic tank or. You are also getting brand new materials for the actual construction as well as codes-compliant systems, including your HVAC, electrical, and plumbing.
The point here is that your real estate dollars might not go quite as far for a custom, accessible home. However, if it is designed with you in mind, less can feel like much more, and you will have 100% usable space.
Once you have an idea of your budget, sit down with your family to decide what type of home and what special features you actually need. According to Vantage Mobility, an accessible home includes things like doorways up to 36-inches wide, lowered countertops, ADA-compliant toilets, and more open spaces to rotate a wheelchair, if applicable. When talking with your home designer or architect, it’s best to let them know what you need and let them work the aesthetics in around these features.
If you decide that the entirety of your new construction doesn’t have to be accessible, you can still make much of your space usable by doing things like installing a stair lift and adding handrails in hallways and bathtubs.
In addition to the house-hunting process looking a bit different, financing new construction is not the same as getting a standard mortgage. This doesn’t mean that you do not have options. “Mortgage Professor” Jack M. Guttentag, author of The Mortgage Encyclopedia, explains that there are three ways to finance new construction. These are to have the builder finance construction and then obtain a permanent mortgage, obtain a construction loan and then a permanent loan, or apply for a combination loan, which unites the construction and permanent loan. Just like obtaining any other mortgage product, you’ll need to ensure that your finances are in order, which includes having enough money for a down payment and having a relatively high credit score, preferably in the middle-to-high 600s or higher.
Buying your ideal home may not be as easy as scouring the MLS until you fall in love with a three bedroom and two bath ranch. Instead, when you have a disability to consider, the inventory that works for you may be limited. For this reason, building makes sense, and may be your fastest and most efficient route to homeownership.