We have worked with AARP for years and have had the privilege to participate in several of their regional and national programs. Early this year they conducted an online seminar where the participants were encouraged to ask us questions regarding home modifications and remodeling. We have compiled the questions and our answers in this series, hoping that this will help get you started thinking about your accessibility options.
This week we will discuss: Exterior Entry Options
I don’t really like the look of ramps installed on the front of a home, but I can’t get up the steps. Are there alternatives?
Many of the ramps that we see in our communities are basic and unattractive, often unpainted. This is not very good advertising for a very common and useful item that many people need. So, first of all, consider a better looking ramp design; one that matches the style of the home and its porch rails and color. Also, ramps might fit inside some attached garages, where appearance is not so important. Our book: Wood Ramp Design on our website will help you get started. The book also briefly covers vertical platform lifts, which take up much less space than a ramp and might be able to be hidden better than a ramp. Another option is an exterior-quality seat lift that can be installed on a set of stairs. Keep in mind that if you use a wheelchair you will need to transfer on and off the lift at the top and bottom. Mobility equipment of any type will need to be available at those locations too.
Finally, consider creating a graded entry to a doorway. A gentle sloping pathway is easier to landscape, doesn’t need to be hidden, and will be a permanent value-added improvement to the house.