Entryway ramps are one of the easiest ways to make your home easier to enter and exit. Even if you don’t currently require a wheelchair, having an easier way to move through your entrance is a valuable asset to your home, and many of these additions can be removed if you ever want to sell your home. If you’re thinking of installing a ramp in your home, make sure you check off these items before you install.
Before taking any of the steps below, you’ll want to first consult with a contractor to make sure that it’s possible to add a ramp to your entryway. If your home has trees in the entryway, or a short driveway, a more major renovation may be your only option for making your entryway accessible.
1. Check With Your Municipal Regulations
Depending on where you live, there may be restrictions on what kind of ramp you can build on your property, including the side and length of the ramp. Check with the Homeowners Association in your area and obtain the required permits to make sure you can start your build without any roadblocks.
2. Think About The Evolving Purpose of Your Ramp
Ramps aren’t just for seniors who use wheelchairs, they’re useful simply as a safe and supported way to exit and enter your home. Because of this, you’ll want to make sure that your ramp is multi-functional. Having a handrail installed with your ramp is a great idea, even if you don’t currently need it. For homeowners who live in areas with snow, having the extra support can be invaluable when things get slippery.
3. Invest In Automatic Lighting
Having a ramp is the #1 thing you can do to make your entryway safe and accessible, but the #2 thing is to make sure your entryway is well lit. Having a safe and stable ramp isn’t all that useful if you have to navigate it in the dark, putting you at risk for slips and falls. Make sure that your contractor installs motion-activated lighting for your ramp so that you can easily use it in the daytime or evening.
4. Don’t Forget About The Slope
The most important consideration for your ramp is the slope and length. Having a steep ramp is almost as useless as having no ramp at all, especially if you hope to use it without assistance. To put it technically, slope is usually expressed as the ratio of the ramp’s height, or rise, to its length, or run. For example, a slope of 1:12 means that the ramp rises one inch for every 12 inches of its run. This is the most common slope for a wheelchair ramp and is the one recommended by the ADA. Ideally, the minimum width of a ramp should be five feet so that you have the option to change directions if necessary, but when it comes to short home ramps, it’s not 100% necessary. Make sure that the width is at least 35 inches to accommodate a standard wheelchair, and wider if you think you’ll have a wider mobility aid.
5. Pick Your Materials Based on The Weather In Your Area
It’s crucial that the material of your ramp be stable and slip-resistant in any weather. When you’re talking to your contractor about your ramp, make sure that you address weather concerns.
Looking to make your entire home more accessible? Click here to check out our IA Checklist.