Modifying your home to make it handicap accessible comes with a lot of decisions, and it’s important to do your research to make the right decisions for your loved one’s needs. Providing easy access to the home is one of the main concerns when accommodating a handicap loved one, and if there’s any elevation at all to the main level of your home, you’ll need to offer handicap access. The two solutions include installing a handicap vertical lift or having a handicap accessible ramp installed. Here are some important considerations to keep in mind when making your decision to ensure you choose the option that will be the best fit for your unique needs.
How Much Space is Available?
When deciding between a ramp or a vertical lift, consider the amount of space you have available. Wheelchair ramps require a significant amount of space. You’ll need to have a foot of horizontal length for every one-inch rise in order to meet codes in most places. Make the ramp too steep and it will be difficult for someone to wheel themselves up the ramp on their own, and even with help it may still be very difficult. Even if there’s only a 24-inch rise to navigate, you’ll steel need to have a 24-feet long ramp as well as room for the landings of the ramp. No matter your lifting height, most vertical wheelchair lifts only require a five-foot by five-foot space for installation and these lifts can usually lift an individual up to 14-feet high.
Comparing the Costs
The cost of a handicap accessible ramp for your home will vary depending on the length of the ramp, the size, the materials you need, the handrail you plan to install, and the ground footings needed. Ramp installation can take some time, too, so it’s important to get quotes for materials and labor.
Wheelchair lifts will need to be installed on concrete pads, so you’ll need to consider the cost of the pad into your calculations. You also need a level, secure upper landing you’ll need the correct electrical receptacle close by, and you may need to install and upper landing gate and upper railing in some cases. The cost of the vertical lift itself can vary depending on the size, weight rating, and brand, and they usually run between $3,500 and $5,000.
Compare labor, site preparation, and material costs to figure out which option is going to work best for your budget.
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What About Maintenance?
Both a ramp and a lift are going to require maintenance from time to time, particularly during the winter months. Outdoor ramps will need to be cleared and salted during winter months in areas that receive snow and ice. Wooden ramps may require re-staining or may even need replaced from time to time. You may also need to add anti-slip materials to a wood ramp for traction, and this will need replaced from time to time.
Lifts will require some maintenance as well, and only certified service personnel can offer this maintenance. While lifts are very reliable and hold up well even in bad weather, like any other type of machinery, they do need attention and service regularly. Lift components will need to be inspected routinely for wear and the coating on lifts will need to be touched up from time to time to avoid corrosion. During bad weather, you will need to clear these lifts, although there’s only a small area to clear with a lift.
Aesthetics and Home Resale Value
Since you’re adding the ramp or lift to your home, you’ll want to think about how it’s going to look. Long ramps may not look the greatest on the side or in front of your home, and in some cases, you may have to eliminate decorative property features, such as gardens, to accommodate the ramp. While vertical lifts may not be attractive, they may be easier to hid, since they can be installed in less visible areas and they take up a significantly smaller area than ramps do.
It’s also important to consider how your home resale value will be affected. Handicap accessible ramps are specific to your own needs, so it may make it a bit harder to sell your home if buyers aren’t specifically looking for homes that have permanent ramps. Vertical ramps may have a lower impact on your home’s value, since they can be disassembled and move to another location if you sell your current home.
Choosing between a handicap accessible ramp and a vertical lift will take some thought on your part. Consider the entrance to your home, the costs associated with each option, maintenance considerations, the impact on your home’s aesthetics and home resale value, and your loved one’s unique mobility needs as you work to come to the best decision for your specific needs.
No matter what type of handicap accessibility solution you choose for your home, it is important to ensure it’s installed by professionals and up to your local codes. If you have questions about what solution is right for you or you’re ready to get started with your lift or ramp, call us at (610) 518-2221 or request a quote using the form below. We’re experienced in providing home modifications and we’ll work with you to meet your specific needs.