Accessible Home Cost

The Cost of an Accessible Home

Building a new home…not all it is cracked up to be. Sure, I liked picking out fixtures, flooring, and lights. It has been exciting to see our vision brought to life and we are excited for a more open barrier-free space for Roa to live.

Yet, it has been a while since I last posted about our handicap accessible home build with good reason. This house building is such a rollercoaster of ups and downs that it is somewhat stressful to talk (or write) about. We have had set backs due to our blueprint plans not being acceptable to a neighborhood association and having to find a workable flat lot elsewhere. We have a large amount of setbacks due to the ridiculous long, frigid, snowy winter that made the building process slow. We have had set backs due to the cold, rainy spring that leaves the frost in the ground and renders concrete pouring of our garage and driveway impossible. Now, we are dealing with our most frustrating setback. The appraisal of our home is LESS than the amount that we put into it!

How can this happen?, you ask. I didn’t know it could either. Yet, apparently with the recession, banks and mortgage brokers are a little tough to work with. The criteria for a home value has changed and the appraisers are not being as generous as they once were.

In our personal case, we built a one-story rambler with a basement. We included handicap accessible features, cut costs here and there to enable us to plan for implementing future features, and added personal touches outside our budget to make it feel like our home. We did not have the building crew finish our basement, as we plan to do that on our own to cut some cost.

So, upon visiting our newly built house, the appraiser views it at a one level 3 bed, 3 bath home. Do we get appraised value for the additional basement space? Nope, not finished. Do we get appraised value for the in-floor heat in the basement? Nope, not in a finished space. Do we get credit for the wide walkways, accessible bathroom, barrier-free additions to our home? Or the allowance for the ceiling lift track to be added along with the wheelchair platform lift allowed for in a corner of the room? Nope. Basically, all of the features we included in our house-build that raised the price of our build do not help increase the value of our home. “Handicap accessible features only have value to those who need them, not the average home buyer”. In fact, we are now in a bind of having to enter our closing WITH a significant amount of additional cash to cover the extra spending that the bank will not add to our mortgage due to our lowly appraisal.

It is a ridiculous pickle we are in and I am quite upset! You would think that with the very small number of handicap accessible homes on the market that, our assessment would have INCREASED in value due to the need of these homes. Apparently not. There isn’t consideration for the special needs community in this part of life either! When handicap accessible homes go on the market, they are snatched up, sometimes with bidding wars of numerous bids going over what they are valued. Why? Because they are accessible! Yet here we are, looking at dipping into our retirement fund to pay for these all important features to make our little guys life easier. It is extremely difficult to not grow bitter and angry in CP Land when those in World Typical do not even attempt to understand.

The mortgage guy feels bad. These things should be taken into account, yet they weren’t in our case. Our builder feels terrible. This has never happened in his life as a home builder. It is the recession, the lack of current rambler comparable homes, and the appraiser’s current need to control prices. However you slice it, we feel jipped, jinxed, and jaded.

So, lesson learned the hard way. I called the ARC of MN, Disabilities Housing unit of MN, ADA compliance unit at the state level. No luck. We just got caught in an unfair situation. Everyone I spoke with was appalled. Yet, no one had an answer.

So our house is being completed. It is a lovely home we plan to remain in for many years to come. Yet this process was tainted. The new home experience altered. And all because we needed things that a typical family wouldn’t. Things we wish wouldn’t have to be necessary in the first place.

And that, folks, is the cost we pay in CP land for a place to call home.

Photo Courtesy Flickr CC

2 replies
  1. b swans
    b swans says:

    We are selling our accessible home we had custom built for our son with CP.
    All the accessibility features we paid for when we built out home are not considered in the appraisal when you sell either. I am glad our home will be useful to another family, but I do resent the fact
    that we worked hard to pay for the modifications, and they get them for free.

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