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How to build a zero step entry

Dirt is your friend. Move Mother Earth, move the house up or down, or a combination to engineer a zero step entrance, the TO part of getting THROUGH the doorway.

Don't throw away useful dirt or rocks! Managing soil on a job site costs money so put every ounce to use. Think of those machines, like dozers and dump trucks, as taxi cabs with a meter. Whether digging, pushing or hauling, a running engine is operator time and ringing cash register. Dirt gets wasted on many projects, particularly when excavating basements, either spread around the lot or carted away. Think of that dirt (and rocks!) as your no-step ramp!


Just add a little extra concrete for inset rim

Notice the inset rim on the inside of the basement wall? Who says floor joists MUST only sit atop the basement or crawl space wall (assuming no slab obviously)? An inset rim simply involves pouring extra cement.

Depending on the lot, the solution for achieving ZERO steps is to either raise/lower the house (foundation), raise/lower the ground or both. Imagine a teeter-totter between house and lot. We accomplish NOT building steps by adding/removing dirt in relation to the ground level of the front, side or rear entrance (whatever the most feasible option). Specifically, that might involve gently sloping the terrain, building a retaining wall(s) with gentle switch-backs or adding/removing dirt. (Applies as well to existing homes.)

I think you get the picture that it's a balancing act; however, don't let anyone tell you it's way more expensive. (It totally depends on topography and could be less expensive if you're NOT building steps and NOT moving dirt.

The only additional expense is the extra noggin time thinking through the options and not simply forging ahead doing things the same old way just because it's quicker or that's the way it's always done. Truly, there's no excuse for a flight of steps up to  a doorway for houses built on either flat or gently sloped lots. Why should you find stairs up to a house built into the side of a hill or on level ground? (Answer: No real reason, just because that's the way it's always been done.)

Next, we'll glide through an easy, safe and flush threshold doorway.

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President Todd Hawkins preaches building science and Universal Design (UD) to teach the benefits of an efficient, convenient, comfortable and flexible Lifetime Home. Also follow him on Twitter @BuilderFish for short tips about how kid-friendly UD makes home life easier and more secure for any person of any age or ability.

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