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4 Design Considerations For A Residential Wheelchair Ramp

by Mauritânia Jesus

Adding a wheelchair ramp to an existing home is a great way to improve accessibility, especially for those who cannot get around without a wheelchair. Still, the process of retrofitting an existing home entryway to work with a wheelchair ramp can be more difficult than it may seem. Specifically, there are a few potentially challenging design considerations that need to be kept in mind throughout the process.


Start by considering the specific location of the ramp. While it may seem most practical to install the ramp at the front door, there are some obstacles that could make this difficult. For instance, existing sidewalks, landscaping, and walkways may need to be removed or relocated to accommodate this. Not to mention, a large ramp can detract from a home's curb appeal. For these reasons, many homeowners opt to install ramps around side or back entryways to a home, but each project is different.


You'll also want to consider the materials used to build the ramp, as different materials have inherent advantages over others. For example, while wood is significantly less expensive than composite or metal options, it may require more maintenance (such as regular staining, painting, or seal-coating) and will probably not last as long. On the other hand, many homeowners prefer the natural look of wood as opposed to other options, so it's really about deciding what is most important to you in your ramp design.


For longer ramps or ramps with steeper inclines, you may also want to consider having landings incorporated into the design. Specifically, landings refer to horizontal surfaces where the wheelchair can be safely parked. This is a great way to give wheelchair users the opportunity to stop and take a break if needed while traversing the ramp itself.


Finally, check with your local government ordinance office to see if there are any specific design requirements when it comes to the length or steepness of the ramp itself. It is also possible that you will need to obtain an official design permit from your local government office before the ramp can be built. If you hire a contractor for the job, this is something that they should be able to handle for you--but it's still a good idea to confirm.

By heeding these design considerations when installing a wheelchair ramp on your property, you'll be able to drastically improve accessibility to your home.