I got introduced to the home improvement business at the age of 15. My bike that I loved was broken and I needed a new one, but where to get the money? I decided to put up some notices around town for odd jobs, like mowing lawns and cleaning yards.
When my father who was in the home improvement business, saw me making the posters he said “ Ed” if you want to work for me at the weekends I will pay you and teach you at the same time.
And so it began, in the beginning it was a lot of hammering and cleaning up sawdust, but working with my father was a joy. He was happy, patient, knowledgeable and always did his best.
By the time I was 28 I had a carpenters ticket, and completed a business course, as well as several other construction courses. I had some experience in all aspects of home construction and improvement projects.
My first solo job was putting in a ramp for an older couple with mobility problems. While this may sound simple it can actually be quite complicated. A successful home accessibility project requires careful planning in order to be certain that the ramp meets the home occupant’s needs, as well as complying with local building requirements, is safe and sturdy, and is able to be used in all types of weather.
Before beginning this project I asked several crucial questions: Who was the primary user? What type of assisted device is being used? (cane, crutches, walker, manual or electric wheelchair)
Will the persons ability change? What are the local zoning requirements?
All these questions are important and must be answered before you can begin. There are other elements to be considered such as point of entry to the home, the available area for the ramp, the slope of the ramp based on the height the wheelchair must get to and local codes.
The choice of the door to place the ramp will be influenced by ease of access, the width of the doorway, and any existing features such as stairs, platforms or porches. The angle of the ramps surface and the length of the ramp is a critical project consideration. The ramp slope will impact the lay out, the expense and overall usefulness. The ramp rise is also important, if it exceeds 30 inches you must include a flat rest platform before it continues.
Hand rails must also be incorporated into your plan, for safety reasons they should be placed along both sides of the ramp. The top of the handrails should be mounted between 34 and 38 inches above the rail, and be smooth, a curb should be placed along the edge of the ramp to prevent the wheels from slipping off. When considering the use of materials for this project things like durability, maintenance,strength and above all a non slip surface.
I completed this project in a timely manner, and must say it was such a boost to my self confidence. I knew I could go forward and accomplish many more projects to the best of my abilities.