Adding a Wheelchair Ramp to Our Home
Last updated: November 2022
I don’t have stairs into my house. Well, I do, but they are covered with a wheelchair ramp. I needed a way into the house, so my husband and youngest son built me a ramp. They did such an awesome job!
As far as I know, cities and counties set requirements for outdoor construction, including a wheelchair ramp. Some of the requirements include the degree of the ramp incline, the presence of railings, and the distance between railing slats.
This information is easy to find online or by calling codes enforcement in your locale. Look online for the requirements and find a reputable builder, if you don’t already know one. Fortunately, my husband and 2 of our sons have been in construction, so my contractors were very easy to find.
Since we are currently in a rental, we can't attach the ramp to the house, so they build it over the steps and made it free-standing. We didn’t have to attach it to any structure and it’s heavy enough that it remains in place. We can even decorate it for the holidays! I suggest making it wider than you think you need. If you ever carry in your children, groceries, supplies, or whatever, you may be glad you have the extra room.
You don’t have to have a ramp built. There are many metal ramps on the market today in many sizes that can conform to whatever size and shape you need. Just make sure you work with a reputable company. Some may even install it for you.
Even if you have a house that’s low to the ground, the threshold may be a little too high for your chair to make it over it. In this case, a threshold ramp may be just what you need.
Make it non-slip
Whether you are in a wheelchair or ambulatory, make sure your ramps, walkways, decks, and porches are as non-slip as possible. They can be made with non-slip material, or you can purchase non-slip strips, paint, or outdoor carpet that can be added.
Believe me, when it rains, snows, or you have freezing rain, you’ll need it! I’ve tried going up a ramp with no traction on it and it is near impossible! A few times, my sons or husband have had to push me. And those required rails? You’ll find out really quick why they are required.
Does Medicare pay for the ramp? In my experience, no they don’t! It wasn’t even considered durable medical equipment. Their stance was that they do not cover home modifications for wheelchair access.
So how do you get help to pay for these necessary items? Medicare provided me with a list of a few organizations that may help. Ramps can be cost-prohibitive for many of us and the prices can vary greatly, but you may be able to get a grant to spend on home accessibility modifications. Also, there are many local organizations you could reach out to, such as churches, non-profit organizations, and more.
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