Building a Home Wheelchair Ramp
- Publish Date: 2009/02/07 - (Rev. 2018/11/12)
- Author: Moses Wright
Outline: A building plan for a wheelchair accessible ramp depends on the home and the space available including the terrain around the home.
Rarely do people consider the blessing of simply being able to enter and exit the home, unless a wheelchair bound disability makes stairs an impenetrable barrier. For someone in a wheelchair, the flight of stairs might require friends and family to lift them up or down. That means this person is very much dependent on the assistance of friends and family to be able to do simple thing such as go out and enjoy the sunshine, go to appointments, run errands, or go to the mailbox.
With today's technology, building a ramp to facilitate the wheelchair bound to require lesser or no help at all just to do these simple errands is basically a big relief. Since many people cannot afford to pay a construction worker to modify an entrance, the Internet has resources to acquire a building plan for a wheelchair ramp.
A building plan for a handicapped accessible ramp depends on the home, the space available, the terrain around the home, and the materials necessary for building, and the specifications for a proper ramp. For instance, a ramp cannot be too steep, or the disabled individual will have a difficult time ascending the ramp, and in danger of a descending runaway. Hence, a ramp is designed to have 1-inch of incline for every foot of ramp. Also, the width of a ramp has to be taken into consideration, to avoid getting stuck or falling off the edge whilst on the wheelchair. The standard width of a ramp is at least 3-feet, to accommodate the width of most wheelchairs, whether manual or electric.
While adhering to the width of a ramp is usually not a problem, the length can be a challenge.
Realistically, most people do not have the yard space to build a ramp straight to the door. In consideration of the problem, many wheelchair ramps are designed with switchbacks. A switchback is when the ramp rises in one direction and switches back to rise in the opposite direction. The number of switchbacks needed is determined by the elevation necessary to enter a home. It will look like the letter "Z".
However practical, a series of 3-4 switchbacks does not look appealing to the eye, and detract from the beauty of the home.
Therefore, pleasing to the eye. Made of wood, the ramp also has nice rails to improve the some ramps include duel use designs. For instance, one ramp ascends right to a deck. On the other side of the deck, a ramp extends to the home. Thus, a deck between the switchbacks is both serviceable and look nicer, and provide added safety for the handicapped. Not only do the rails prevent slipping off the side, during inclement weather, the disabled person may find the rails useful for pulling him/herself up a slippery ramp, or slowing a descent. For wood ramps, professionals recommend adding sand to the varnish coat, to give the ramps added traction.
Sometimes, a cement ramp is a solution to accessibility.
However, the building challenges are different. Knowing how to deal with cement is the main issue. Because of the cost, a cement ramp is not solid cement. Basically, after establishing a temporary frame, with barriers between the house and the ramp, a base is established. After pouring the base, filler is added. The filler is usually compacted dirt. Therefore, a special building tool is required to make sure the dirt is pounded and compacted solid. Then, cement is added to finish the ramp.
Because cement is harder to handle, and requires a certain amount of expertise, most people opt to build a prefabricated modular ramp, or a wooden ramp accompanied by a deck, to facilitate the home with wheelchair accessibility.
Whatever the homeowner decides to do, the ramp must meet certain requirements by law, to protect wheelchair users. So, individuals who are capable of wielding a hammer can probably follow the instructions to create a permanent ramp or install the components necessary for a modular ramp to assist a loved one, without sacrificing the general look of the home.