Do I Need a Permit to Build a Wheelchair Ramp? (We Checked)

Do I Need a Permit to Build a Wheelchair Ramp

If you have limited mobility, then you may have considered a wheelchair ramp to make accessibility into your property more comfortable and secure. If this is something you are considering, you may be wondering whether or not you need a permit to build a wheelchair ramp. 

Most places require a building permit for the construction of a wheelchair ramp, as this is considered an extension to your property. The rules and regulations for this differ in most states, cities, and counties, but in general, a permit is required.

So it’s best practice to contact your local authorities, just to be sure, and we understand that there is a lot more to it than that!  Let’s explore the different aspects of building a wheelchair ramp so that you can be fully informed before you make a decision. Stick with us. 

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Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!

A permit is required to build a wheelchair ramp which ensures that all ramps are safe to use. Once you have your permit, you are free to build your ramp! Or, you can consider simply buying one to save you some time and effort.

Here are some of our favorite pre-made ramps from Amazon:

1. EZ Access Ramp – A nice and simple wheelchair ramp for smaller ledges

2. 10’ Ramp – A long ramp if you have a large space to clear

3. Portable Ramp – Perfect for car or home use

Legalities and Permits 

To start off, we’re going to dive right into exactly what the legalities are about wheelchair ramps and how you can go about installing one without breaking any crucial laws. 

What Is the Code for Building a Wheelchair Ramp?

The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA as it is known, is a civil rights law, protecting anyone from any form of discrimination based on a disability. This act was signed in 1992 and outlines the rules and regulations that should be followed when a wheelchair ramp is built. 

Acts such as the ADA can be very daunting, especially if you are not used to breaking down and interpreting such heavy documents. We get it. So we will do it for you.

We will answer the most common questions that people have when wanting to build a wheelchair ramp.

Does an Access Ramp Require Planning Permission? 

You do not need planning permission when building a wheelchair ramp since planning permission refers to the use of the land itself. Instead, you will need a permit to build a wheelchair ramp. 

Well, that’s a relief! Gaining planning permission can be a lengthy process. One less thing to worry about there. However, you will need a permit which is different from planning permission. 

Do You Need a Building Permit for a Wheelchair Ramp?

Most counties and cities will require you to have a building permit if you want to build a wheelchair ramp. Always check with your local public works office to be sure since cities can differ on this matter. 

Just to be clear, always check with the relevant authorities! Each city will have its own code that needs to be followed.

For example, in New York City, the slope ratio of the ramp must be 1:50 meaning that it can go up 1 foot every 50 feet.

How Much Does a Wheelchair Ramp Building Permit Cost?

A building permit to build a wheelchair ramp can cost between $150 and $1500. This cost can vary depending on the size of the ramp itself as well as the cost of the works taking place. For commercial ramps, that cost can increase up to $6000. 

So now you know, the building permit can be pricey but that cost can be brought down if the ramp is on the smaller side or if the price of the build itself is lower.

This is worth bearing in mind when speaking to a contractor or builder.

You might also enjoy our post on If You Need a Permit to Build a Shed

How Do I Get a Building Permit for My Wheelchair Ramp? 

To apply for a building permit before building a wheelchair ramp, you will need to speak to your local city or council public works office. They will have a department that deals with building permits and planning permission and they can assist you in the next steps.

Every city will have a department like this and they are the only people who will be able to help you out officially! So be sure to reach out to them at the earliest opportunity so that you can get the ball rolling.

How Long Does It Take To Receive a Building Permit for a Wheelchair Ramp?

There is no set time frame in which a building permit for a wheelchair ramp will be issued. The length of time taken from the application to approval will vary depending on how busy your local department is as well as other factors.

Other factors include whether all the relevant information was submitted and whether there are any special circumstances to be considered. 

As you may have guessed, there is no definitive answer concerning how long it will take to receive a building permit for a wheelchair ramp

As a rough guide, it is suggested that the median time taken for a building permit to be approved is around 60 days.

Do Residential Ramps Need to Be ADA Compliant?

Residential wheelchair ramps do not have to be ADA compliant, unlike commercial wheelchair ramps. Although, it is strongly advised that the guidelines are followed where possible since they are put in place for good reason.

Whilst it may not be mandatory for your ramp to be ADA compliant, the guidelines are there for many reasons, including safety, so don’t dismiss the ADA’s suggestions on this!

What Is the Maximum Slope for a Wheelchair Ramp?

Wheelchair ramps may have a maximum slope of 1:12 as per the ADA specification. Although, this is often too steep for people to navigate and so a slope of anywhere between 1:16 to 1:20 is recommended. 

You will want your wheelchair ramp to be as useful and practical as possible. Just because you can have a slope at a 1:12 ratio does not mean it is the best option. Speak with your builder and they will advise you on what will be best!

What Is the Maximum Height for a Wheelchair Ramp?

The maximum height for a wheelchair ramp will depend on the slope ratio that is allowed as outlined in your city’s building code. Generally, the height of the wheelchair ramp does not matter as long as other rules are followed to ensure safety. 

For example, in New York City, a wheelchair ramp can only increase in height by one foot for every 50 feet in length. Therefore, your wheelchair ramp will not go very high unless it is extremely long, which is very unlikely. 

Installing or Building Your Wheelchair Ramp

Now that you understand the legalities of wheelchair ramps, let’s discuss how you can build one!

Most people will employ a builder or contractor to build their ramp but if have the skills to do so yourself, you may just need some more information on the specifics. Let’s have a look!

How Do I Build a Wheelchair Ramp?

Although there will be variations in how different people build a wheelchair ramp, there are some fundamentals that you will want to adhere to build the overall structure of a wheelchair ramp efficiently.

If at any point you feel that the task is above your capabilities it is best to refer to an experienced ADA compliant builder or contractor to complete the works. 

You will also want to consider having all of the right materials as well as the correct equipment and tools. As stated above, if the job feels too much it is best to bring in an expert!

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Wheelchair Ramp?

The cost of a professionally built wheelchair ramp will average around $2057. A homebuilt wheelchair ramp will cost between $400 – $650. The price will vary depending on the materials that are used as well as the length of the structure itself. 

Like many aspects of home improvement and building works, prices can vary so be mindful when selecting materials. Don’t forget to make use of the free online resources to make things a little less expensive where possible! 

It’s also worth noting that if you do employ a builder or contractor to help then the costs of their labor will significantly change the finalized price of your wheelchair ramp.

You might also enjoy our post on If You Need a Permit to Build a Treehouse

Can I Buy a Pre-made Wheelchair Ramp?

Pre-made wheelchair ramps do exist and can be found both online and in-stores across the country. The same standards and regulations apply to them and it is the job of the manufacturer to ensure that all guidelines are met.

Some recommended wheelchair ramps include:

  1. EZ Access Ramp – A nice and simple wheelchair ramp for smaller ledges
  2. 10’ Ramp – A long ramp if you have a large space to clear
  3. Portable Ramp – Perfect for car or home use

What Is the Best Type of Wheelchair Ramp?

The best type of ramp is one that is safe and fit for purpose. A wheelchair ramp that meets all of the relevant ADA guidelines is best. It is also important that your ramp meets your individual needs. 

Whilst we know that you will want your ramp to look good since it is a visible extension of your property, the most important elements are its safety and efficiency. 

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t paint the handrail and choose a nicely colored material for the slope, but it is important to prioritize the functionality of your ramp first!

Can You Build Your Own Wheelchair Ramp?

You can definitely build your own wheelchair ramp. There are no specific qualifications needed by the person building the ramp but all relevant guidelines and regulations must be met. Any permits must also be obtained by the person building the ramp.

So, if you feel that you have the skills then go for it!

Many people like to have the help of an individual or company that specializes in building ADA compliant wheelchair ramps but there is nothing to say that you cannot get to work on one yourself if you feel up to it. 

How Do You Make a Simple Wheelchair Ramp?

In order to build a simple wheelchair ramp, you will still need all of the relevant materials and equipment as well as knowledge of the measurements and overall process of building one. 

We all want these things to be as simple as possible. If you want your ramp to be simple due to it being temporary then that’s understandable. 

If you are struggling with the process itself, call in some extra hands! That way you ensure that the job is done to the best standard possible and the quality of your wheelchair ramp isn’t compromised. 

How Do You Build a Wheelchair Ramp off a Deck?

When building a ramp specifically for a deck, it is important to note that all of the same guidelines and ADA regulations still apply. If the ramp is to be fitted to a deck rather than an entryway then the measurements must be adjusted to fit flush to the deck instead. 

We know how important it is to have access to an outside area so ensuring that you can have a suitable ramp that will fit your decking is important! 

Some people like the ramp to match the material of their deck so bear that in mind when choosing the basis for your ramp.

What Is Needed to Build a Wheelchair Ramp?

In order to build a wheelchair ramp, you will need enough material to match the specification of the ramp that you wish to build, as well as all of the relevant equipment. 

On top of this, you will more than likely need a building permit to carry out the build so it is advised that you contact your local public works office for more information. 

As we have already alluded to, you can of course build your own wheelchair ramp, but you may want to consider hiring someone to help you if you are unsure!

How Long Should My Wheelchair Ramp Be?

Whilst there is no maximum length that an ADA compliant ramp should be, it needs to be long enough to serve its purpose. A ramp that reaches the desired entry from the lowest and flattest bit of accessible land will be needed. 

Keep in mind that building a ramp that is too long, will have an impact on its overall structure and height of it.

It may be tempting to build a super ramp – one to impress the neighbors if that’s your thing, but it will end up costly and unnecessary so maybe stick to a pretty flower garden for that!

You might also enjoy our post on If You Need a Permit to Run a Gas Line

Can I Get a Free Wheelchair Ramp Anywhere?

Wheelchair ramps are not usually covered by Medicare except in some circumstances such as someone with a home dialysis system. If you are a veteran there may also be some grants available. 

Contact the Department Of Veterans Affairs Program to see if you are eligible. In short, most people will have to pay for a wheelchair ramp to be installed.

Whilst this may be disappointing, it is always worth contacting your insurance provider to make sure. Not to forget the tips included in this blog that might help bring down the cost, such as being careful of what materials are used.

How Do You Build a Wheelchair Ramp for Free?

In order to build a wheelchair ramp for free, you will need the materials and equipment on hand already. You will also have to build the ramp yourself to avoid the labor costs of a builder or contractor. However, you will still need to pay for a permit if one is required.

So, almost free. The building permit is super important if it is required and as such is a cost that cannot be avoided.

If you happen to be handy, though, you may already have many of the materials needed to build the ramp of your dreams!

How Do You Build a Wheelchair Ramp Over Existing Steps?

In order to build a ramp over existing steps, you will need plywood sheets, as well as strong wooden posts. You will then need to anchor the ramp over the stairs using 4-inch screws. 

The existing stairs certainly make for an easier ramp construction since there is already a foundation for it to go on! This is a project that can be undertaken over a weekend, making your home more accessible.

Does a Wheelchair Ramp Need Handrails?

Aside from curb ramps, handrails are a requirement on all wheelchair ramps as per ADA regulations. A handrail will be needed on both sides if the ramp has a rise of greater than six inches or a horizontal projection of greater than 72 inches. 

This is compulsory for commercial ramps but strongly advised on residential ramps.

If it’s a home wheelchair ramp that you are hoping to build, the handrails are going to be needed in order to fit ADA regulations. 

Related Questions

Are Wheelchair Ramps Safe in the Winter?

Wheelchair ramps are perfectly safe during the winter as long as proper care is taken if adverse weather is expected, such as snow, ice, or rain. Ensuring that the ramp is swept clear at all times to avoid debris or ice building up is recommended. 

In the event of snow or ice, a magnesium chloride solution sprinkled on the ramp itself will minimize the risk of slipping. 

The condition of your wheelchair wheels is also important here! Is there a good grip on them or could they do with being replaced? Consider replacing them running up to the winter to avoid any accidents on your ramp or elsewhere.

How Do You Winterize a Wheelchair Ramp?

In order to make your wheelchair ramp suitable for winter, always have a thick bristled broom nearby in order to clear any snow or ice. Also have plenty of gritting salt on hand, such as magnesium chloride. 

It is also important that your ramp has grooves on the slope itself to provide additional grip when it is being used. 

Being prepared for the winter months is going to go a long way in ensuring your safety when using your wheelchair ramp!

Try not to leave it too late to have the above supplies ready to go, just in case the weather takes an unexpected turn.

Final Thoughts

With all the information provided, you should now have the confidence to go out and start installing that much-needed wheelchair ramp!

Always ensure that you have the proper permits that are required before you start installing so you don’t run into any trouble along the way. 

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