Good Health

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Building a Wheelchair Ramp

If you want to make your house much more accessible to an elderly or disabled person, a wheelchair ramp is one of the most crucial additions you can invest in.

Contrary to what you might think, it’s not always necessary to hire a construction company to have a ramp built. If you’re building a temporary or portable structure, then you can actually do it by yourself. All that’s required is proper planning, the right tools and some prior DIY experience.

If, on the other hand, you need a permanent ramp built, then you’ll most probably have to hire a local contractor. Permanent ramps for mobility require some engineering and carpentry skills.

In this article, we’re going to be focusing on temporary ramps. A lot of the time, people can make mistakes which lead to the entire structure being unstable. Let’s take a look at what the commonest ones are so that you can avoid them:

Starting the Project with Inadequate Planning

Construction projects that are poorly planned almost always fail. Wheelchair ramps are no exceptions. Sometimes the builder forgets to think carefully about where exactly the ramp should be placed. This in turn helps to determine the length, width and elevation of the structure.

The budget is another important aspect of the planning. If you determine the total cost of the project beforehand you can avoid nasty surprises later. You’ll also be able to figure out where you can make cuts without affecting the overall quality of the project.

Choosing the Wrong Layout

The three commonest wheelchair ramp layouts are:

  • In-line ramps: these are straight from one end to the other
  • Dog-legged ramps: these are ‘L’ shaped ramps due to a right-angled turn at an intermediary landing
  • Switchback ramps: these contain at least one 180-degree turn at an intermediary landing.

The dimensions of your property should dictate what layout is right for the project. Most people make the mistake of looking at aesthetics first instead of how much space is in their yard.

Using Untreated Lumber

Always use treated lumber if you’re building a ramp out of wood. Lumber that is treated are way more durable and weather-proof. The latter may not be much of a concern when you’re building a temporary one but the former applies regardless. You want to make sure that the build is strong enough to withstand the weight of many people combined.

Using Nails Instead Of Screws

A lot of inexperienced builders try using nails to keep the structure together. The thing is that nails can easily come apart with time and heavy use. Therefore, they should only be used for the joist hangers. In contrast, screws are much more reliable and won’t give away that easily.

Forgetting To Add Security Features

A ramp is quite a complicated project to manage and as a result, it can be easy to miss certain things. Sometimes people forget to add security features like guard rails to the ramp, which can make the structure extremely dangerous to wheelchair operators.

When building a ramp by yourself it’s quite easy to make mistakes. Being aware of them is a good first step towards avoiding them.


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