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Inspecting Residential Entrance Ramps

I see many entrance ramps and often times my clients are planning on removing them. Every so often, they plan on keeping them in place. I inspect the physical condition of the materials, stability and visually look at the pitch. However, there are requirements that meld the building codes and ADA requirements. We see this also in other areas of the house. If the house is being build for ADA compliance, the codes may be altered to accommodate these requirements. The guidelines I will outline can also be modified to accommodate the individuals needs; however safety and egress requirements must be maintained. Remember, the remap will probably serve as a means of egress and these requirements also come in to play. The ADA requires a slope of 1:12. So basically if the door entrance threshold is 24 inches off of the ground, you would need a 24 foot long ramp. The maximum height of any section of ramp should not exceed 30 inches. If the height does exceed 30 inches a flat rest platform should be in place before the ramp continues. The minimum width of a ramp between hand railings should be 36 inches. Hand railings must be installed; therefore the deck of the ramp must be at least 42 inches wide to accommodate the width of the hand or guard rail. So what else should a home inspector be looking for when inspecting entrance ramps:

  • Minimum door opening is 32 inches (clear width = measurement taken between the face of the door and the stop of the frame with the door open 90 degrees)
  • Handrails or guards must be installed if the ramp has a rise more than 6 inches or longer than 72 inches on both sides
  • Tops of hand rails should be mounted between 34 & 38 inches above the ramp surface and continuous
  • Spaces between the ramp and any wall or surface should be at least 1 ½ inches
  • Ramps over 30 inches above ground should employ railings with spindles and a curb stop to ensure the wheels do not go over the sides of the ramp
  • Curb guards or barriers shall be at least 4 inches high
  • Maximum height of ramp should not exceed 30 inches per run
  • There must be a flat landing at the top and bottom of all ramps
  • Landings should be at least as wide as the ramp and a minimum of 60 inches by 60 inches
  • The minimum headroom for all areas of the ramp must be at least 80 inches
  • The floor or ground surface of the ramp run or landing shall extend 12 inches minimum beyond the inside face of a handrail
  • Non-slip materials should be used for the ramp surface
  • Ramps should be designed to ensure water does not accumulate on walking surfaces

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