Hot House: 4520 Joppa Road, Perry Hall, MD 21128
L-shaped custom-designed ranch house, circa 2001, wood frame with vinyl siding, completely handicapped accessible. 3,000 sq. ft., with 4 bedrooms, 4.5 baths on a private, landscaped, quarter acre lot. Main floor master bedroom, roll- in shower, extra-wide hallways, ramps, vehicle transfer area: $439,000
What: A basic template for a disabled-access house. In pristine condition, this rancher looks like a model home. “I’ve had more interest in this house than any of our other houses,” says the realtor – an indication of the rapidly emerging market for houses where aging baby boomers can stay in place despite physical limitations. The current owners designed the house for their disabled daughter, and while every aspect of her needs has been accommodated, the house does not look or feel like a “handicapped house.” The entrance ramp is under the carport, and is not visible from the street. Inside, the spaces are open, and the hallways are wide, allowing a comfortable turning radius for a wheelchair. Walk though the front door, past the living room into an open, spacious kitchen where the family can be together. Nice finishes and appliances – hardwood and ceramic tile floors, granite counters — make it feel luxurious, and large windows look out onto a sunny backyard. There are two good-sized bedrooms on the main floor, one with an extra large en suite bathroom and big roll-in shower. A shower chair, hand-held faucet and grab bars all aid in accessibility. Built-in storage and shelving (with low-reach availability) here and thoughout the house accommodate large equipment and keep down clutter. The downstairs is another large open space — a great family room or in-law suite. Everything is bright and clean, really like a new house.
Where: In Perry Hall, which is not as far as you might think, just about 25 minutes from north Baltimore, out near the White Marsh mall. Take Northern Parkway to Fleetwood Avenue, bear left for .4 miles and take a left onto Belair Road. E. Joppa is 4.2 miles up Belair Road (a local landmark is the Double T Diner). Perry Hall is America in a teacup, or maybe a coffee mug. An invigorating mix of upscale townhomes, strip malls and family farms, there is a definite rural sensibility here once you’re off the main corridor of Belair Road – newly built custom homes with produce stands in the front yard. It’s an easy drive to Howard County, Harford County and Baltimore City, which makes it ideal for people who travel locally to service jobs and businesses. A few miles to the north is Gunpowder State Park, with the 93rd best hiking trail in North America according to Trails.com.
Who: Owner says it best: “The person who buys this house will be someone who needs this house.” Family with disabled person, aging parents, single person in wheelchair, or with special needs.
Why: Cheaper, and way nicer, than a nursing home.
Why Not: Upstairs living room is small.
NB: Making disability accommodations to an existing home can be complicated and expensive. Modifying a bathroom, for example, inevitably means substantially enlarging it – stealing needed space from bedrooms, closets and hallways. The advantage of a custom designed accessible house is really enormous.