A man using his newly built wheelchair ramp at his mobile home
October 19, 2023

Building and Choosing Wheelchair Ramps for Mobile Homes

This comprehensive guide focuses on the importance, challenges, and solutions for building and choosing wheelchair ramps for mobile homes. Whether you are a mobile home owner, a caregiver, or a builder, this guide will provide valuable insights and practical advice to make mobile homes more accessible for everyone.

The Challenges and Solutions for Making Mobile Homes Wheelchair-Friendly

The primary challenge in making mobile homes wheelchair-friendly is the limited space, which makes it difficult to install ramps that meet the required slope and length standards. 

However, modular and telescopic ramps can be adjusted according to the available space. These ramps are functional and aesthetically pleasing, blending seamlessly with the mobile home’s design. 

Another solution is to opt for vertical platform lifts, which take up less space than traditional ramps. For narrow doorways, installing swing-away or expandable door hinges can provide the extra width needed for wheelchair access.

Why Wheelchair Ramps Are Essential

Wheelchair ramps are more than just a means to enter or exit a home; they are a gateway to freedom and independence for those with mobility issues. Simple tasks like going to the grocery store or visiting a friend become monumental challenges without a ramp.

Assessing Your Needs

Before installing a wheelchair ramp for your mobile home, pre-planning is essential. This stage involves understanding the specific needs of the wheelchair user, the layout of the mobile home, and the legal requirements you must meet. Measuring the entryway’s height and calculating the slope needed for the ramp is crucial. This will help you determine the length and type of ramp that will be most suitable. Additionally, consider the space around the entryway, which will influence the design and installation process. Consult with professionals and adhere to local building codes and ADA guidelines to ensure that the ramp is functional and compliant.

Understanding the unique needs of the wheelchair user is paramount. Consider factors like the type of wheelchair, whether manual or electric and the user’s ability to navigate slopes. Also, think about how often the ramp will be used. Is it for occasional outings or frequent daily use? These factors will influence the ramp type, length, and material you choose. Consulting with healthcare providers or occupational therapists can provide valuable insights into the specific needs and preferences of the user.

Length Requirements Based on ADA Guidelines

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides guidelines for ramp specifications, including length and slope. According to ADA, for every inch of rise, there should be a foot of ramp, making the recommended slope 1:12. For mobile homes, where space is often limited, meeting these guidelines can be challenging. However, modular and telescopic ramps offer solutions for tight spaces while adhering to ADA standards. Always refer to these guidelines during the planning and installation phases to ensure compliance and safety.

Material Options for Durability and Aesthetics

When it comes to materials, you have several options, each with its pros and cons. Wood ramps are aesthetically pleasing but require regular maintenance. Aluminum ramps are lightweight, durable, and require less maintenance but can be more expensive. Rubber and composite materials offer durability and can be more budget-friendly but may lack aesthetics. Choose a material that balances durability, maintenance, cost, and visual appeal to best meet your needs.

Types of Wheelchair Ramps

  • Solid Wheelchair Ramps: These are permanent structures made from materials like wood or concrete. They are sturdy but lack portability.
  • Single Fold Ramps: These ramps are portable and can be folded in half for easy storage. They are ideal for occasional use.
  • Multi-Fold Door Ramps: These ramps can be folded multiple times and are suitable for higher elevations. They offer a balance between portability and stability.
  • Telescoping Track Ramps: These ramps extend and retract, making them highly adjustable. They are ideal for varying heights and are portable.

Pros and Cons of Each

  • Solid Ramps: Pros include stability and durability. Cons are lack of portability and higher cost.
  • Single Fold Ramps: Pros are portability and lower cost. Cons include less stability and suitability for lower elevations only.
  • Multi-Fold Ramps: Pros are versatility and portability. Cons are higher cost and moderate stability.
  • Telescoping Ramps: Pros are adjustability and portability. Cons include less stability and higher cost.

Safety Considerations

Safety should be your top priority when choosing a ramp. Ensure that the ramp has a non-slip surface and adequate railings. The width should accommodate the wheelchair comfortably, and the slope should be manageable for the user. Always adhere to ADA guidelines and local building codes to ensure maximum safety. It’s advisable to consult with professionals for installation to guarantee that the ramp is secure and meets all safety standards.

DIY Guide: Building Your Wheelchair Ramp

Building a wheelchair ramp yourself can be a rewarding experience, both emotionally and financially. However, it’s essential to approach this project with meticulous planning and attention to detail. This DIY guide aims to provide a step-by-step process to build a wooden wheelchair ramp that is both functional and compliant with ADA guidelines. Before you begin, ensure you have all the necessary permits and have consulted with professionals to ensure your ramp meets local building codes.

Materials Needed

To build a wooden wheelchair ramp, you’ll need the following materials:

  • Pressure-Treated Lumber: For the frame and surface of the ramp.
  • Galvanized Screws: To secure the wood pieces together.
  • Non-Slip Paint or Grip Tape: For the ramp surface.
  • Handrails: Preferably made of metal for durability.
  • Concrete: For the landing and footings.
  • Joist Hangers: To secure the joists to the frame.

Each material serves a specific purpose. For example, pressure-treated lumber is resistant to rot and insects, making it ideal for outdoor use. Galvanized screws prevent rusting, ensuring the ramp’s longevity.

Step-by-Step Construction

Estimating the Length

Refer to ADA guidelines to calculate the ramp length based on the entryway’s height. A 1:12 slope is recommended.

Cutting the Wood Joist

Cut the wood joists according to the estimated length. Make sure they are of equal size for uniformity.

Preparing the Landing

Dig a hole for the concrete landing at the bottom of the ramp. Pour the concrete and let it set.

Reducing the Edge of the Board

Bevel the edge of the ramp surface for a smoother transition. This makes it easier for wheelchairs to move onto the ramp.

Adding Carrying Handles

Add carrying handles on the sides for easy transportation if you’re building a portable ramp.

Professional Help: When to Seek It

While a DIY approach can be fulfilling and cost-effective, there are situations where seeking professional help is advisable. These include:

  • Complex Designs: If your mobile home requires a ramp with turns, landings, or varying slopes, a professional can ensure it meets ADA guidelines.
  • Limited Experience: If you’re uncomfortable with carpentry or construction, hiring a professional to ensure safety and compliance is best.
  • Time Constraints: Building a ramp is a time-consuming process. A professional can do the job more quickly if you need a ramp urgently.

To find a qualified builder, ask for recommendations from friends or family who have had similar work done. You can also search online directories or consult with local disability organizations. Always check for credentials, read reviews, and ask for quotes before deciding.

Budget Considerations

The cost of building a wheelchair ramp can vary widely depending on the type, materials, and labor involved. Here are some rough estimates:

  • Solid Ramps: $100-$200 per linear foot
  • Single Fold Ramps: $100-$500
  • Multi-Fold Ramps: $500-$1,000
  • Telescoping Ramps: $300-$800

Many organizations offer financial assistance or grants to make homes more accessible. Check with local government agencies, non-profits, and disability organizations for potential funding options.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a wheelchair ramp add value to my mobile home?

Yes, a well-designed, ADA-compliant ramp can add value to your mobile home by making it more accessible and appealing to a broader range of buyers.

What are the safety considerations when using a wheelchair ramp?

Safety considerations include ensuring the ramp has a non-slip surface, adequate railings and adheres to ADA guidelines for slope and width.

How do I choose the right size wheelchair ramp for my mobile home?

Refer to ADA guidelines and consult healthcare providers to determine the appropriate size and slope for your needs.

Building a Wheelchair Ramp: Final Thoughts

Building or choosing a wheelchair ramp for your mobile home is critical in making your living space more accessible and inclusive. Whether you opt for a DIY approach or seek professional help, it’s essential to adhere to ADA guidelines and consider the unique needs of the wheelchair user. Budgeting wisely and exploring financial assistance options can make this project more feasible.

By following this comprehensive guide, you’ll be well-equipped to make an informed decision and complete your wheelchair ramp project. If you haven’t purchased your mobile home yet, feel free to visit us in San Antonio or Odessa, Texas. Alternatively, you can browse our available mobile homes online.