Planning to Build a Wheelchair Ramp?
Tips for Preparing for a "DIY" Ramp Project
If you want to build a wheelchair ramp on your own, begin by familiarizing yourself with the standards for ramp construction, which are mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Click here for ADA wheelchair ramp guidelines. Then, note the following as you begin your planning process.
- Always check local building codes to learn about permit requirements before you start construction. For example, ADA construction standards mandate that the slope of any wheelchair access ramp must be no greater than one inch of rise for every 12 inches of run.
Therefore, if you need to reach a platform that is 30 inches in height, you must plan to build the ramp to be at least 30 feet long. You'll need to measure up from the ground to find how many inches the ramp must rise.
- At a minimum, your ramp should be 36 inches wide between railings to accommodate a wheelchair. To be on the safe side, you might want to make it at least 40 inches wide.
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- Carefully devise your layout taking into consideration the length you require and whether you will need to incorporate a switchback, U- or L-shape configuration into your ramp design.
- The ramp should end at a location accessible to transportation and leaving the property. The bottom of the ramp should be even with the ground to provide a smooth transition.
- Keep in mind that level landings are a necessity at the top and bottom of each run of your ramp to make it easier to maneuver.For example, if a run in your ramp is over 30 feet long, you'll need a level landing 5' long and as wide as the ramp. For an L shaped turn, you will want a 5' x 5' landing; for switchback turns, 5' x 8'.
- Always use the proper building materials. A ramp built with pressure treated lumber is far less prone to rotting and posts rated for ground burial are essential.Wood can be very hazardous when wet or icy. Install sand grit strips to enhance traction. (Aluminum or concrete can be used instead of wood to build a ramp.)
As you begin your ramp planning, seriously consider consulting with a professional contractor who has expertise in ADA ramp construction. This will help ensure your ramp is durable, functional, ADA compliant and, at the same time, adds an aesthetically pleasing addition to your home.
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