Wheelchair Ramp or Wheelchair Lift?
Modifying your home for wheelchair accessibility can feel like a constant uphill climb. You will be doing a lot of research and making a lot of decisions. It may be tempting to start flipping a coin to make some of the decisions. We want to help simplify one of the first decisions you usually have to make. How do you get into your home, or leave your house when you want to? Providing easy access to your home is usually the first concern. If there is any elevation to the main level, you need wheelchair access. You can choose between two solutions: Installing a wheelchair ramp or a vertical porch lift.
Here are 5 main things to consider when deciding between a wheelchair ramp or a wheelchair porch lift:
Space Required for a Ramp vs a Lift
Wheelchair ramps need a lot of space. You need 12 inches of horizontal run for every 1 inch of rise to meet most codes. If a ramp is too steep it is difficult to propel yourself up the ramp without help. Even with help it can be difficult. Which means, even if you only need to get up 24” you’ll need a ramp that is 24 feet long plus the landings.
A vertical wheelchair lift only needs a 5 foot by 5 foot space, no matter what the lifting height is.
What looks better? A wheelchair ramp or a lift?
The truth is a long ramp is not usually the most attractive feature at the front or side of your house, especially if it wraps around two sides of the house. It’s difficult to camouflage and you may have to remove front gardens or other decorative features of the property to fit your ramp.
The wheelchair porch lifts are not going be the most attractive feature on your property, but at least you can hide them easier. Often you can install them in a less visible space, like inside the garage or at the end of a porch. Bushes or small trees can also hide most of the lift. The fact that they take up less overall space, makes their visual impact smaller.
How will a ramp or a lift affect your homes Resale Value?
You also want to consider the effect on the resale value of your home. A outdoor wheelchair lift is very specific to your needs and if you need to resell your home‚ you may have a harder time as not every home buyer will find value in having a permanent ramp on a home they are considering buying. They will consider removing the ramp an added cost which might discourage them from purchasing. Also‚ depending on where you are moving to‚ you may need to pay the expense of installing another ramp.
Vertical wheelchair lifts have minimal impact on home values. You can disassemble the lift and moved it to a new location‚ or resell it if you don’t need it. The modifications required for a lift are usually minimal‚ depending on the height.
Required Maintenance for a ramp vs a lift
Someone will need to clear snow and ice from a Wheelchair ramp if you live in a wintery climate. If the structure is built of wood, regular maintenance is required to prevent rotting, which means treating the wood, re-finishing and re-staining or replacing boards regularly to keep it in good condition. You will also need to check for loose boards or handrails and replace or repair as necessary. Wood ramps also need grip tape or other anti-slip material for proper traction, which may require its own maintenance, and need to be replaced every so often. Wheelchair Lifts are designed to withstand all weather climate. If your lift has a mesh platform, snow and ice shouldn’t build up on the lift. Even if you do need to clear it, only a small space needs to be cleared. Vertical porch lifts do need at minimum yearly maintenance, to inspect the drive nuts and clean and re-lubricate the drive screw. All the lift components need to be inspected for wear, coating touched up to prevent corrosion and platform alignment needs to be checked and adjusted if necessary. Some environments, like coastal or desert areas may cause faster wear on some of the lift components, and you should inspect it more often than once a year.
How do the costs compare?
The cost of installing a wheelchair ramp depends on the size of the ramp, how long it will be, how many landings you need, the material, how many ground footings you need, and what kind of handrail you are installing with it. Installing a ramp can take a while, so you want to get quotes for the labor and material costs.
Wheelchair lifts have their own set of costs. You can review a recent article we posted about the costs of installing a wheelchair porch lift to help you figure that out. Lifts need to be installed on a concrete pad so make sure you include that cost, if necessary. Lifts are easier for do-it-yourselfers to install in just a few hours, so the labor costs will be a lot less. Compare site preparation, material and labor costs to get an accurate picture of which one will work for your budget.
We hope this list has given you some things to consider while you make your decision. Have you installed either a ramp or a lift at your home? What would you want others to know about the choice you made. Which would you recommend. Please comment below, we’d love to hear from you.
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Jinan Sinicmech Machinery (MORN GROUP LIMITED)
Address: 13F, Building 5, Qisheng Mansion, High-Tech Zone, Jinan, 250101 China.
Tel: +86-531-88692337 88631336 88631337