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A review of the building code requirements for the modular wheelchair ramp.

[Minnesota State Seal] A LETTER FROM

Building Permits: Uniform Building Code (UBC) section 301(b)7 exempts "platforms, walks and driveways not more than 30 inches above grade" from the requirement for a building permit. However, this section makes it clear that the work must still comply with the applicable provisions of the building code as well as any other laws or ordinances of the jurisdiction.

Land Use/Zoning Permits: Local government regulates land use through zoning codes. There may be restrictions on distance to property lines, maximum area and height, etc. Specific requirements will vary among jurisdictions so it is necessary that the appropriate local government department be contacted prior to beginning construction. Permits, including a site plan showing the location of the proposed ramp, may be required to verify compliance with zoning code provisions.

Guardrails: UBC 1711 states in part that open and glazed sides of stairways, landings and ramps, which are more than 30 inches above grade shall be protected by a guardrail. When a guardrail is required on a ramp or landing serving a single family dwelling, the guardrail must not be less than 36 inches high with intermediates spaced such that a sphere six** inches in diameter cannot pass through. The dimensions must be on the plan when this requirement is applicable.

** As of March 20, 1995, the Minnesota State Building Code changed to require intermediates to be installed to prohibit passage of a 4" sphere

Ramps: According to UBC 3307, ramps used as exits from the building shall comply with this section.

Subpart (c) states that: the slope of the ramp shall not be steeper than 1 vertical to 8 horizontal. The slope should be identified on the plans. (Note: this vertical to horizontal slope is not recommended because it is too steep. Steepest recommended slope is 1-12).

Subpart (e) states that when the slope of the ramp is steeper than 1 vertical to 15 horizontal, a handrail must be installed. The handrail must comply with Section 3306(j) and be mounted not less than 34 inches nor more than 38 inches above the ramp surface. The handrail must be dimensioned on the plan.

Subpart (g) states that the surface of the ramp shall be roughened or shall be of slip-resistant materials. This should be identified on the plan.

Weather Exposure: UBC 2516(c)11 requires that the members which form the structural supports be of approved treated wood (or of natural resistance to decay). It appears that this has been clearly covered in the plans.

Footings: UBC 2907(b) exception 1 permits a one-story wood building not over 400 square feet in area to be supported on a wood foundation plate when approved by the building official. In our opinion, the support of this ramp should be considered adequate provided that (1) the design engineer has accounted for anticipated frost and thaw action, (2) the ramp is secured to the house landing or threshold, and (3) wood in contact with the ground is pressure treated to at least .401bs/cu. ft. of retention.

Other: As long as these ramps serve only single family, R-3 occupancies, they are not required to comply with the requirements of Chapter 134O, Facilities for the Handicapped.

The completed plans for the ramp should include compliance with all applicable code provisions, the detailed specifications and the certification of the Minnesota registered engineer.

[Scott D. McLellan signature]

Scott D. McLellan, Building Code Representative

No Footings Are Required Last year we built a ramp with the new system of support beam footings.

Our ramp hasn't shifted in the least. We have used it daily throughout all kinds of Minnesota weather without a problem. It was ideal for a residential setting and construction was relatively easy.

We organized a "ramping bee" and because we didn't need cement footings we were able to be more flexible in the construction and placement of the ramp."

-Gregory Knox-Carr

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