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Any Contractors Here for ADA Advice?

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Any Contractors Here for ADA Advice?

Old 06-13-18, 10:22 PM
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RXSF
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Default Any Contractors Here for ADA Advice?

I'm hoping someone can shed some light for me as ADA law is not as clear cut as I had hoped. I own a commercial apartment building with a shared male and a second shared female restroom for tenants and customer use. Currently, the bathroom is not ADA compliant and I have been hesitant to touch the stall partitions for fear of doing so will require ADA compliance. The building was built in 1950s. This has severely limited what I want to do with these restrooms, as you can imagine, and I have only been able to do light cosmetic work.

Now, I have plans to completely overhaul the restrooms down to the studs and rework the layouts. I am willing to install handicap stalls and think I have the space. I am curious if anyone has experience out there that can tell me if this will trigger ADA compliance to anything outside of the restroom, such as the hallways leading to the restrooms. I am not willing to open that can of worms. Currently, to access the restrooms, customers need to go through each of the commercial spaces, where there is a shared back hallway with the restrooms. I cannot even imagine the cost if I am forced to make the entire building compliant. If it is only confined to the restroom, then I can handle it. I am worried that when the permits go through, the city inspections are going to require more changes.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 06-14-18, 04:43 AM
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Renovations or modifications are considered to be alterations to a facility/building when they affect the usability of the space. For example, if you install a new display counter, move a wall or bathroom, replace fixtures, carpet or flooring, and even replacing an entry door, you are opening up a can of worms. A repair to a broken door, or wall, or replacing a broken toilet is not considered an alteration by the ADA, as you move more towards modifying the space, however, you incrementally move into ADA territory.

So what does this mean...it depends on who reads your plans and approves them. We've seen in our medical practice how some inspectors will wave a modification while others will stick you. There is a grey area in all of this. I wish I had a simple, straightforward answer. And while then ADA is a federal mandate, each state, each community, each reviewer, can find ways to stick to the plan or waive it.
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Old 06-17-18, 05:37 PM
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ADA in general is a big grey area, what with exceptions/conditions like "undue hardship" and "maximum extent feasible".

My experience with ADA is purely academic, but I recall that the big trigger is when renovating/modifying "primary function areas". The restroom is not considered primary, so the question is whether making a restroom ADA compliant somehow requires that pathways/routing to the restroom are made ADA compliant.

The fact that ADA was intended to allow older buildings to become ADA-compliant gradually and over time (essentially, as owners would normally renovate the buildings so as not to present financial hardship), may lend credence to the idea that simply remodeling the bathroom is one of those steps and would not require modifications to the pathway/route to the bathroom until a separate alteration of that primary function area.

Hopefully someone with more knowledge can comment.
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