Austin handyman gives advice on installing access ramps

Austin handyman gives advice on installing access ramps

"I'm looking for a contractor who can install handicap-equipped home modifications. For starters, my father wants to add a ramp to his front porch so he can get out to the car with his walker. Any suggestions?"
- Nancy Walker, Austin Angie's List member

Find a contractor familiar with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) specifications, says Jimmy Tolly, who owns and operates highly rated Jim the Happy Handyman in Dripping Springs and services the Austin area.

Although designed to increase access in public spaces, ADA recommendations ( can be applied to residential settings. For instance, ADA specs call for access ramps with no more than a 1:12 slope, which means every foot of vertical rise must span at least 12 feet horizontally.

Tolly recommends homeowners ask that ramps be built using pressure-treated lumber because they"re easier to remove or alter if necessary.

"Everybody is unique in their needs," says Al Hartley, owner-operator of highly rated Al the Handyman in Austin.

If you plan to add more safety or access enhancements to your home, he says, you should also consider widening passable doorways to at least 36 inches, which allows enough room to easily get a wheelchair through, and installing grab rails and non-slip surfaces in the bathroom.

"It really has to be tailored to the individual," says Les Stobart, a manager with highly rated ABC Home and Commercial Services in Austin, which provides handyman services. He also recommends additional precautions such as removing trip hazards like throw rugs, and exterior landscaping materials such as gravel that may compound injuries after a fall.


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