View Full Version : Is there a building code for ramps ??

Clarence Martin
12-06-2015, 2:24 PM
Need to put up a TEMPORARY!! Wheelchair ramp. Thinking of just getting a portable one from one of the big box stores.

here are the measurements.

At 4 feet, which would be the length from the top of the Porch , to the concrete pavers on the walkway. It is about a 5 1/2 to 12. I would have to extend the ramp to a length of 7 feet to get close to a 1 to 12 slope.

Is there a legal standard building code that requires a 1 to 12 slope for ramps ?

Tom M King
12-06-2015, 2:28 PM

Tom M King
12-06-2015, 2:29 PM

David V Carpenter
12-06-2015, 2:45 PM
Yes, of course, there are code requirements for ramps. It is not as simple as requiring a 1/12 slope.

Additionally, whether temporary or not, there are code requirements for dead and live loads.

At one time there were significant penalties that could be applied by the courts to violators of Access Compliance codes. These penalties could be assessed to the designers and owners. These laws may or may not be in effect in your area.

George Bokros
12-06-2015, 3:14 PM
As everyone has said there are codes for them. We were going to put in for my father-in-law and the city was going to require a building permit even though it was to be permanent. Their stand was because it needed to be bolted to the house it needed a permit.

Clarence Martin
12-06-2015, 6:22 PM
This one doesn't need to be bolted down. Just drop in place when needed to be used , and take it up when not in use.


Bob Grier
12-06-2015, 8:56 PM
I believe ADA sets maximum grade on ramps at 5% and maximum length between landing at 30 feet. ADA may not apply to residential houses but if you do construct ramp, there may a code requirement that you comply with ADA.

Five percent is 1 vertical in 20 horizontal. For a roofer or maybe carpenter, that would be 0.6 in 12 or about 5/8" vertical for each foot horizontal.

Myk Rian
12-06-2015, 8:58 PM
This one doesn't need to be bolted down. Just drop in place when needed to be used , and take it up when not in use.
Are you going to push a wheel chair up 4' with that ramp? I don't think so.

Ed Aumiller
12-06-2015, 9:45 PM
Was going to install a ramp on rental property for possible tenant... checked with building inspectors and if attached to house it would have been about 20' long for a 30" rise...
They advised if it was NOT attached to house, but a temporary ramp, then they had no control and we could make it a lot shorter with no permit required...
Think about it...

Keith Outten
12-06-2015, 9:46 PM
The ADA regulations won't apply to a residential home they only apply to buildings with public access areas.
Your state and local building codes will most likely have specifications for installing a permanent ramp and they will require handrails.
The temporary ramp that Clarence suggested probably won't require any installation permit or inspection.

John Stankus
12-06-2015, 9:57 PM
I don't know about code, but I built one for my mom when she had brain cancer. It had limited space and had to make a right angle turn due to a flower bed wall where things landed. Some of the things to consider: Try to make the transitions smooth, a small lip or ridge can be tough to get a wheel chair over. Door thresholds can be difficult. Will the individual using the wheel chair be propelling, or will someone be pushing (or motorized)? Make sure the ramp is wide enough or has something to keep the chair from coming off the edge if you have steering issues.


Alan Rutherford
12-07-2015, 3:56 PM
We did something similar to OP's ramp. It was primarily for moving things but has been used with various wheelchairs. I made a support for the top end with 2x scraps so that the end was not relying on the edge of the step for support.

Motorized chairs needed someone to push and help keep them from falling off. With non-motorized chairs, even 1 in 12 is steeper than you'd think and this was not 1 in 12.

John makes some good points.

Tom Stenzel
12-07-2015, 11:37 PM
It will depend on your local rules. Here in Livonia, MI no permit is required but the city doesn't want any wooden posts to be cemented. My ramp has 4x4s set 4 foot into the ground with no concrete as requested. Nothing has moved yet in two years.

Also to prevent from losing a tree we had to make the ramp a bit steeper than 1" rise per foot, maybe 1.2" per foot. Total rise is about 2 feet so it's not much. I don't have any problems going up myself on my manual wheelchair. But when it get icy it's fun going down! :D Sand helps.


Alan Rutherford
12-08-2015, 10:06 AM
One more thing about our ramp, which is similar to yours except for the lack of "curbs": the lack of anything in the middle can make footing precarious if you're pushing a wheelchair especially if you slip or something, and it's impossible to use with a 3-wheel motorized wheelchair since the chair has a wheel in the center.

Stew Hagerty
12-08-2015, 12:20 PM
I am a wheelchair woodworker. I normally use a custom power chair, however I do on occasion need to use a manual one. You MUST check with your state & local codes. Everyplace is different.

John was correct. Two things to consider, will the occupant ALWAYS be pushed, and are there any lips no matter how small they may seem to you?

If the occupant will always be pushed up the ramp, then the slope depends, not just on the code requirements, but also on the pushers strength. A person in a wheelchair can be pushed quite easily on a smooth flat surface, but the power required goes up dramatically with even a shallow slope. If the occupant could at any time need to roll themselves up that same slope, depending on their upper body strength & stamina, it can be nearly insurmountable.

When it comes to lips, door sills, & bumps manual chairs don't do well, even with small ones. "Transport Chairs" that don't have the large rear wheels are much worse. The front wheels aren't large enough to roll over most lips. Either the pusher or the occupant, if they are able, must pull a small wheely to get them up and over.

Ole Anderson
12-08-2015, 3:58 PM
Any surface for travel steeper than 5% or 1v:20h is considered a ramp. A sidewalk running parallel to street at 6% grade is not considered a barrier free route. The maximum allowed pitch on a ramp is 8.33% or 1v:12h. I didn't do the math as I don't know if your distance from top of step to paver of 4 feet was measured horizontally or on the angle, but it looks like the vertical drop is well over one foot, so you would need approximately 15-20 feet of ramp to make a 1:12 slope. If your walk path continues to slope to the street it could be a lot more as you need to measure the vertical drop from the top landing to the bottom of the ramp. Even if a ramp isn't required for your residence per local code, you would be well advised to not exceed the 1:12 slope. Any steeper and you can run into physical problems getting up and down. I once helped a wheelchair bound person over a humped garden bridge at a home show and almost dumped her on her face at the bottom of the ramp. And unless it is VERY temporary (a few days) I would include handrails.