Tips for Home Buying January 25, 2021

Buyer Tips :Looking for a Wheelchair-Accessible Home

Do you or someone in your family need a home that is wheelchair accessible, or will need to be in the future?  The Northwest MLS has upgraded the listing input system this year so that Sellers can include accessibility information in their listings, which will help Buyers focus their time on homes that meet their needs. Here are some of the features you and your Real Estate Broker should look for in a home – existing or with the space available to add them after purchase.

Approach & Entry

A clear, evenly-paved walkway from the parking area with room for a ramp. There should be at least one entrance ramp and preferably 2 in case one of the entrances is blocked during an emergency. The ADA recommendation, for maximum slope for hand-propelled wheelchair ramps, is 1” of rise for every 12” of length. Minimum ramp width should be 36” inside the rails, although 48” is ideal.

Doors & Hallways & Flooring

The minimum recommended door width is 32” and pocket doors are a plus where possible. The standard clearance needed to turn a wheelchair is 60 inches – so make sure doors and furniture placement can accommodate that space. The door threshold should be no more than ½”  high if there isn’t a ramp. Lever handles are preferred. Halls and pathways throughout the central living area and the rooms listed below, should be at least 36” to accommodate wheelchairs & walkers. Hardwood or tile is preferred, but at a minimum there should be low pile carpeting. There should also be no significant change in floor height between rooms.

Bedroom Features

Closet bars should be adjustable with at least one bar at 48” and accessible from a seated position. Window controls should be within 40” of the floor. Switches, outlets and other controls should be mounted between 18” and 48” above the floor.


There should be at least 1 full or ¾ bathroom that has a turning radius of at least 60”. Counters should be between 32” and 34” with clearance for knees, showers that allow access without a step or barrier, grab bars should be installed that can support the weight of an adult. Lever faucet handles are nice to have.


Range controls should be in the front or on the side, counters should be variable height to accommodate multiple persons – seated or standing. The dishwasher should be mounted in an elevated position and outlets & switches should allow access for someone seated.  Drawers and cabinets with pullouts are also nice to have.