Lifted Up – Conquering A Design Dilemma

Single Story House. All one level. This was a non-negotiable when we were looking for a house. And 6 years ago, we found just what we were looking for. Almost…

Yes, the house is one level. But it sits about 4-1/2 feet higher than the street and driveway. This was fine when we first moved in, but as we thought about the future, we knew we’d need to address the accessibility issues.

So when the time came to begin planning out our remodel dreams, we made a list of our goals:
1. Maximize our view
2. Expand our outdoor living space
3. Add a garage at the front of the property – closer to the street
4. Make it wheelchair accessible

My brother-in-law Eric cruises in a wheelchair, and it was very important that we incorporate an accessible entry into the overall design. We worked very hard with our architect and contractor to find the right solution. Our first thought was to have a ramp going from the back of the new garage up to the new patio. But, to make it truly accessible, the ramp needed to follow a 1:12 slope. In other words, the ramp would need to be somewhere around 48′ long to rise 4 feet. I think it goes without saying…that’s a really long ramp. And it would dominate the patio – impacting our other design goals.

So we kept thinking. And researching. And then, I found it. The solution? …An elevator porch lift – a very simple motorized lift that is durable enough to be installed outside. All we needed was a concrete pad (about 4′ wide), right outside the back of the garage, that would lead to a landing up on the patio. We discussed this with the team, and they incorporated the elevator lift landing perfectly into the design of our new outdoor space.

The thing is, this type of equipment is not aesthetically pleasing. At all. In fact, I think they make accessibility equipment anti-aesthetically pleasing. It’s weird. And if you do find something that looks somewhat decent, well, that will be a markup of about 200%. The accessibility market has a long way to go!

Anyway, once the architectural design was done, the new patio poured, and the garage built, we went to work on the lift. Here’s a little insight into the whole process…

THE TWO ENTRANCES TO THE HOUSE…NOT EXACTLY ACCESSIBLE FOR SOMEONE IN A WHEELCHAIR:

        

BRAND NEW LIFTS RUN ABOUT $4000-$5000. I FOUND THIS ONE ON CRAIG’S LIST FOR $1200. WE CONFIRMED THAT IT WAS WORKING, BORROWED A PANEL VAN AND WENT TO SAN DIEGO TO PICK IT UP.

I DON’T KNOW WHY, BUT THEY ALL COME IN THIS UGLY STOCK OFF-WHITE COLOR. WE DECIDED TO HAVE OURS POWDER-COATED BLACK. WE FOUND AN AWESOME PLACE TO HANDLE THIS FOR US – CRISOL METAL FINISHING.
OF COURSE, BEING US, WE DIDN’T REALIZED THAT ALL OF THE MECHANICS OF THE LIFT WOULD HAVE TO BE REMOVED BEFORE IT WAS COATED. THE GUY’S AT CRISOL WERE AMAZING. THEY TOOK THE WHOLE THING APART AND PUT IT BACK TOGETHER FOR US!

HERE WE ARE…LITERALLY JUST WATCHING THEM TAKE THE MOTOR APART. ‘HOPE WE CAN GET THIS THING BACK TOGETHER…’

A FEW DAY’S LATER, WE PICKED UP THE NEW MATTE BLACK LIFT…FULLY OPERATIONAL…PUT IT BACK IN THE PANEL VAN AND OFF TO OUR HOUSE WE WENT. IT WAS ACTUALLY FAIRLY LIGHT (ABOUT 300 LBS), BUT STILL IT TOOK THE HELP OF A COUPLE OF FRIENDS TO GET IT INTO THE RIGHT PLACE. WITH THE FINAL PIECES ALL IN PLACE AND PUT TOGETHER, IT WAS TIME TO GIVE IT A TEST RUN! THE DOGS DID NOT KNOW WHAT TO THINK ABOUT IT….

AFTER THE DOG’S INSPECTED THE LIFT, IT WAS TIME FOR THE GUEST OF HONOR. WE INVITED ERIC OVER TO GET HIS SEAL OF APPROVAL.

AND HERE’S OUR LITTLE INSTA-STORY VID OF ERIC’S INAUGURAL RUN: 

THE FINAL STEPS WERE TO ADD SOME GREENERY TO THE PLANTERS:

THE ONLY THING MISSING TO MAKE THIS A SAFE SITUATION IS A GATE AND A FENCE ON THE TOPSIDE OF THE PATIO…COMING SOON!

And there you have it! We are officially wheelchair accessible. And it looks good too! Makes my heart very happy.
Thanks for stopping by… if you would like to know more about our remodel – you can Read more about it here!



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