Stricter ADA laws could be coming for Austin homes

New Home Construction

If you’re in the market to buy or build a new home, you may have to pay a bit more to make your home disability friendly.

Next week, the Austin City Council will vote on requirements for new houses that would make it easier for disabled people to visit Austin homes.

The guidelines now in the works would require all newly built homes and duplexes to have the following:

  • A pathway into the home with no steps; it doesn’t have to be the front door
  • The door has to be able to clearly open 32 inches
  • There must be a clear route to a kitchen and bathroom that is 32 inches wide
  • There must be a bathroom on the first floor
  • Light switches on the “visitable” floor must be 48 inches high; outlets must be 15 inches high

“I think its a really good thing,” said Brian East, a lawyer with Disability Rights Texas. “People often come to us complaining about inaccessible housing and a lot of times the law doesn’t require it to be.”

But the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin says they have several concerns with the proposed law. They say the increase in cost for home buyers will drive more people to buy homes outside the city.

“This would increase the average price of a home about $2,000,” said Harry Savio, with HBA of Greater Austin. “For every thousand dollars you increase the price of a home, that’s 1,500 families that can’t afford to buy the house.”

If passed, some of the requirements for builders would kick in within the next 90 days, and all the requirements would take effect on Jan. 1, 2015.

Right now about 6,800 homes in the city limits already meet that standard. Many of those homes are in the Mueller development.

The Austin City Council will vote on the item Jan. 30.

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