Building a wheelchair ramp on your own may seem like the most cost-effective option. But, many people don’t realize just how difficult it is to build a ramp that is truly safe. Before jumping into a potentially dangerous DIY solution, educate yourself on the safety and compliance requirements of how to build a wheelchair ramp. Here’s what you need to know before you start trying to build a ramp of your own.
Wheelchair Ramp Requirements
There are a number of important wheelchair ramp safety requirements to consider and follow.
When building a wheelchair ramp, the first step is to ensure you have the correct wheelchair ramp slope. The maximum slope will vary depending on if your ramp is for commercial or residential use:
- Commercial/Public Use Incline: Maximum 1:12 (one inch of rise for every 12 inches of ramp) or approximately 5 degrees of incline
- Residential/Personal Use Incline: Maximum 3:12 (three inches of rise for every 12 inches of ramp) or approximately 15 degrees of incline
You’ll also need to consider the minimum width required in order to navigate and turn wheelchairs and mobility scooters. The minimum width for a ramp is typically 36 inches. However, we recommend checking your state guidelines when installing a commercial wheelchair ramp.
If you’re installing a ramp for your own personal use, take measurements of your exact chair to decide how wide your ramp needs to be. You can even map out your path with chalk or tape to get a better understanding of how much room you need for easy, comfortable turns.
Level Rest Platforms
Level rest platforms provide an area for manual wheelchair users and transport chair pushers to rest. They also can prevent severe injuries in the case of a wheelchair brake failure or other serious issue. Level rest platforms should occur every 30 feet, at minimum.
Railings are required to be installed on all sides when building a wheelchair ramp to prevent falls and injuries. They are particularly useful for cane and walking aid users as well as ambulatory individuals with mobility disabilities. Check in with your local authorities on the minimum recommended heights for wheelchair ramp railings.
One of the most common elements that DIYers forget is ample room to comfortably turn a wheelchair to navigate through a doorway. 60” landings are required at the top and bottom of wheelchair ramps to allow enough room for a door to open and a wheelchair or mobility scooter user to navigate through.
While a simple ramp made of pressure-treated 2x4s may be cost effective, it can become incredibly slippery when wet. Choose a non-slip surface with built-in treads for a safe and durable wheelchair ramp.
Finally, you’ll need to ensure an appropriate weight capacity for your wheelchair ramp. This is another area where DIY solutions tend to fall short. Just because your ramp feels sturdy does not mean it can support the weight of multiple people and their mobility equipment. Choosing a manufactured wheelchair ramp is the best way to ensure adequate weight capacity.
What Happens If My Homemade Ramp Is Out of Compliance?
The short answer? If you build a wheelchair ramp that is out of compliance, it will need to be closed until it can be repaired by a professional, limiting access to people with disabilities.
Wheelchair ramps on public property are required to stay up to local, state, and federal safety codes. That means that if someone is injured on your ramp due to it being out of code, you may be responsible for their injuries and damages.
If you are thinking about how to build a wheelchair ramp on a residential property, the first step is to check with your homeowner’s association or local county office to check on the building codes in your area. You should also familiarize yourself with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines for further compliance. If an individual is injured while using your ramp, they may be able to sue you for personal injury.
If an individual is injured while using your wheelchair ramp, they can legally sue you for personal inury.
Building a wheelchair ramp is not a quick backyard DIY project. A wheelchair ramp is a serious aid for home accessibility. If your ramp isn’t built properly, it can cause accidents and injuries and even put your loved ones in danger.
Mobility City’s Experts Are Here to Help
If you’re rethinking building a wheelchair ramp on your own, Mobility City can help. With permanent, temporary, and portable options in stock, our experts can help you pick out the perfect wheelchair ramp for your home. And, they can provide you peace of mind know your ramp was built and installed by a team of experts.