Would You Build a Wheelchair Ramp and Destroy the Garden You Love So Your Nephew Can Come into the House Independently?

The original poster (OP) and his wife just purchased a new house. When his sister came to see the house, she asked if OP would like her husband, who is in construction, to install a ramp. The ramp is for her son, who is in a wheelchair. The nephew often visited OP and his brother’s home to play with the cousins, and both homes had ramps installed. His sister wants her son to feel welcome everywhere, so she would also like a ramp installed at the new house.

The problem is installing a standard ramp at OP’s old home was easy. The new house sits higher, requiring a much longer ramp. After measuring the area, they realized that they can’t install a ramp without removing some of the features of the house that add to its curb appeal.

For example, the front yard has a tiered garden. This is OP’s wife’s favorite feature, as she is an avid gardener. OP says the tiered garden made them select this house over another one they were contemplating. If they build a ramp leading to the front door, it will cover the majority of the tiered garden.

The other option is to build a ramp at the side door. However, this door leads directly into the driveway and to the garage in the back. If they build a ramp there, it will make the driveway too narrow to park their vehicles. The ramp would cause them to lose half of their driveway parking, and they also have limited street parking. OP would also have difficulties getting his ‘muscle car’ into the garage where he was planning on storing it.

The Family Reacts

OP tried to explain to his sister why building a ramp would be too challenging for them, but she was still unhappy. She understands that the side door ramp would impact parking, but she says the ramp for the front door is doable and would only affect the garden, which is purely cosmetic. She believes not having a ramp would make her son feel unwanted.

Other family members are also unhappy with them not wanting to build a ramp because if they can’t host family parties, the burden to do so will lie solely on his brother. They usually take turns hosting family events because they have bigger homes.

OP provided the option of hosting backyard parties in the summer because they have the space, several trees for shade, and a canopy area to place some nice outdoor furniture and a barbecue. Another bonus is that the garage has an accessible bathroom. However, his sister still thinks this is unreasonable because it restricts her son to the backyard. If anyone wants to cool off inside with the air conditioning on, he won’t be able to go in. She believes her son would still feel left out.

His brother is upset because he doesn’t want to always be the host of all the family parties, especially on Thanksgiving and Christmas, which OP admits are typically hectic holidays.

Looks like OP is stuck between a rock and a hard place. How should he proceed?

The Readers Comment

Several readers believe that there are alternatives to building the ramp.

“There’s plenty of room for compromise: when it’s your turn to host, rent an accessible venue. Doesn’t have to break the bank, it can be as simple as an AirBNB.”

“Churches often rent out their halls and rec centers for next to nothing. When we do baby showers or for “big” Thanksgiving every couple of years and have fifty people instead of our usual twenty, we rent the social hall of a local church for 50 bucks. Then you can also use their big industrial kitchen.”

OP appreciated the suggestions and mentioned that his dad is a local moose lodge member and would look into rental information there.

Other readers gave some creative solutions for building a ramp.

OP, would a wall mounted flip down ramp work for the garage? It could be the right length and be out of the way when not in use. He would have to design it. Or, a roll-a-ramp! Really they should just have one on hand for when places don’t have things ready for a wheelchair.”

“I agree, brother is in construction there are probably creative solutions. Might hire an contractor specializing in ADA to give OP some solutions. Technology is always changing.”

Some readers felt that OP shouldn’t feel obligated to build the ramp at all.

“I wouldn’t make permanent and expensive modifications to my home for someone who doesn’t live there, and I wouldn’t hear her being mad about the reasoning for them not doing it.”

However, some believe that if you have a close knit and loving family, it’s worth it to build the ramp.

“For someone I love and want to visit, I would. I would of also considered the nephew when looking for a new place, unless I didn’t give a crap. After all they the family had a tradition of meeting at each other’s houses. Sister and nephew now know they are not important to brother now. I love garden’s, I have a large one, but I would get rid of it for those I love to be able to come visit and feel welcome at my home.”

“But OP said nephew used to be over all the time. A lot of people grow up with cousins basically being like their siblings and they’re always at each other’s houses. This new house changes that dynamic, but it’s not like previously the nephew was only a rare guest. Nothing is preposterous if it works for the people involved.”

A woman who has a son in a wheelchair even questioned the need for a ramp but suggested alternatives.

“My son is in a wheelchair. Is there a reason you HAVE to have a ramp? We spend tons of time at relatives’ houses, and none of them are accessible. We just carry my son in, then carry in his chair. My grandpa’s sister is also in a wheelchair, and we do the same thing for her, so it’s not just because my son is small. It’s a hassle, but worth it to see family, and the whole family is willing to help to make sure it works.”

She also suggested a collapsible ramp and linked to a particular style. 

However, one reader mentioned that being carried around might make the nephew feel a loss of independence. 

“It’s an independence thing. Imagine all your siblings and cousins running in and out of the house just fine, but you have to wait for people to carry you. Not to mention, depending on the staircase and the people lifting, it can feel/be quite unsafe. I saw a video recently of a wheelchair user being carried up the stairs into a plane and one of the airport staff stumbles. Obviously being carried will do in a pinch, but most wheelchair users would prefer to handle these things independently.”

Should OP stand his ground and not ruin the beautiful garden he and his wife love? Or should he build the ramp to save himself grief and a disgruntled family? Should he suggest alternatives like the collapsible ramps, or do you think his family would refuse other options as being unsafe? 

This article was produced by This Mom is On Fire.

This post originally appeared on Reddit.

Feature Image credit: © Elnur via Canva.