Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Building a Wheelchair Ramp for Mom

My 65-year-old, previously very independent mom, suffered a stroke on Thanksgiving Day. She was in Baylor Dallas for 10 days, then an acute stroke rehab hospital for 20 days, then an assisted living rehab place for another 20 days.

She had just bought a new mobile home last year and, though we had been looking ahead to building a nice deck on the front for her, it still had the little portable steps at the front door. We needed to build a wheelchair ramp before she could go home.

Mom is a retired police secretary. Some of her law enforcement and city hall friends pitched in to buy lumber to get us started.

Before we began, I spent several days browsing photos at The Texas Ramp Project, reading ADA guidelines, and planning things out.

RampSolutions.net was helpful with it's line drawings for each section. Although, wherever I felt there was a sturdier way to go, I did my own thing.

In fact, I was so concerned about it being sturdy and long-lasting that I decided to forego the thick plywood that was provided for us and used 2x6 solid lumber for the decking. We made so many trips to the lumber yard and heated up my credit card so much that it shrank to 1/4 it's former size and now ducks and dodges my fingers when I reach in my purse.

Concrete footings that will hold the 4x4 posts.
That's my awesome husband Johnny.

Posts are up for the 8'x8' deck. Used 2x8's for the beams and joists.
Will add two more posts to the sides so that the perimeter has a support every 4 feet.

Break time.
Whose drink? That's right.

We wound up adding a 4 foot extension for the wheelchair landing.
Mom's door is 38" from the ground. Wheelchair ramps are supposed to be
1' long for every 1" up. That would mean a 38' ramp.
We managed to squeeze out 26' from the center of the deck to the end of the house.
If we had gone from the right hand side of the deck it would have only been 22'.

More posts up for the ramp. They have a cross beam that the ramp sits on.

One of the coolest new products we found and used were
these Timber Tite construction screws at Lowes.
Ceramic coated steel, self driving. They went in like a hot knife through butter
with no pilot hole and no splitting of the lumber. Expensive but worth it.
They're bigger than what the photo looks like.
We used them to attach the support beams to the 4x4 posts.

Another view of the ramp.
We coated every piece of  lumber in Thompson's Water Seal as we went.
We found some with Honey Oak stain already in it.

2x6 ramp decking going down.

Gettin' there.

Goofy cat.
There was some debate as to whether that was Mom's cat Hungry Jack
or the neighbor's cat named... wait for it... Cat.

Hungry Jack when he was still showing up to be fed.
We haven't seen him since about mid-way through Mom's hospital stays.
He's a mean, bossy turd but Mom loves him.

We were being rained out toward the end, with only a few days left till Mom came home.
When things dry up, we'll need to go back and set the last few posts, finish the rails,
and water seal that little end piece.

See the railing at the bottom, sitting on the decking? That's an ADA requirement so that a walker
or the wheels on the wheel chair don't slip off the edge.