In June 2016, patent attorney Derek Lavender got into a motorcycle accident on his way to work and broke his spine. A year later—after extensive physical and emotional healing—he and his wife, LeAnne, a content manager, traded in their place in Indianapolis for a house that would better accommodate Derek’s new wheelchair. Their choice? A 2,700-square-foot ranch-style home with all the traditional fixings: a wide, open layout; minimal stairs; and a rambling lot.
These characteristics are particularly beneficial to those who use wheelchairs, but they make an ideal forever home for us all. “You can grow up and grow old in them,” say the Lavenders. Their lack of stairs means you (and perhaps your parents) will be able to comfortably move about as you age. Plus their communal spaces are usually next to one another, so the removal of just one wall significantly opens them up, a great asset for big families. Still need more room? The ranch’s typically large lot makes expansion or the addition of an ADU (aka an extra, separate living space in the backyard) a breeze.
Not all ranches are created equal, though. When hunting for your own, the Lavenders recommend narrowing your search to those built after 1990, the year the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law. Even if you don’t use a wheelchair, this will ensure the home’s doorways and halls meet minimum accessibility guidelines and can accommodate one. Also, filter out properties with bathrooms that come with separate toilet rooms in favor of open-concept ones that your family and guests of all abilities will be able to navigate for years to come. Keep all this in mind, and the next time you go house shopping may just be your last.