We need a ramp installed at our home. My husband can no longer climb stairs. We’re over 68 years old and are concerned about safety, but don’t want to advertise to those who pass by that we are vulnerable. Do you have any suggestions?
Eileen, Minneapolis, MN
Many seniors with disabilities are concerned about safety. They do not want to become “targets” for crime. There are two ramp-building locations we recommended instead of placing the ramp at the front-entrance door to the house.
If you have an attached garage, a ramp can be installed in the garage. This option provides safety from crime and protection from rain, snow and ice. This option can also extend the longevity of the ramp. The difficult part of a garage-ramp installation is that the space needed for the ramp may take up one entire parking stall, if not more. If you can’t afford to lose parking space and the garage is your preferred location for home access, a vertical platform lift may be an alternative to a ramp. Platform lifts take up less square footage.
The second suggested ramp-building location is at the back of the house with access through an existing patio or back door. If you do not have an existing back door, a new door can easily be added, possibly where a window currently exists. By placing the ramp at the back of the home, it is hidden from the street.
Keep in mind you will need a connecting sidewalk between the vehicle drop-off area and the ramp. Connecting the ramp with the drop-off area may be an opportunity to create an exterior patio or deck, providing “useable outdoor” wheelchair space.
Be aware of water drainage from the roof. The new sidewalk and ramp should not be built on a “pooling” site for water drainage. Water drainage can be routed under the sidewalk by providing a “sleeve” for the downspout.
You may also want to consider additional lighting for the sidewalk, ramp and door-landing area. Motion-sensor lights offer a convenient, security-enhancing lighting option.
If you decide the only place to construct a ramp is at the front entrance, there are ways to “disguise” it. You can visually connect or blend the ramp to the home using similar architectural elements and appropriate landscaping, making the ramp “disappear,” and in some cases, actually adding “curb appeal.”
Good luck with the construction of your ramp! Thank you for your question.
Do you have a question for Jane and Accessibility Design? We’ll cover all of your questions in future issues of Home Access Answers. Please contact us: phone at 952-925-0301; or by e-mail at email@example.com. Our Web site is www.accessibilitydesign.com.
Jane Hampton, president of Accessibility Design, founded the company in 1992 to enhance lives through design and project management. Accessibility Design provides design, consultation, project management, and product recommendation services specializing in home access for individuals with disabilities at all stages of life.