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Renovations and ADA

October 11, 2011 - ADA

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, renovations and ADA.

Facility managers often ask when renovations trigger a requirement to bring a building in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, and exactly how much compliance is required when this happens.

Under ADA requirements for readily achievable barrier removal under the ADA, barriers must be removed — with a few exceptions — regardless of any work being done.

Anytime renovations are made to a facility where barriers still exist, 20 percent of the construction costs must be spent on barrier removal on the path of travel. For ADA purposes, the path of travel also includes water fountains and rest rooms. Any renovation to a primary function area triggers the requirement. A primary function area is an area where the activities are germane to the business, such as a bank's teller stations.

ADA does not require barrier removal on the path of travel that exceeds 20 percent of the cost of the renovation, which is then considered to be disproportionate. The major difference between ADA requirements and building codes is that ADA requires barrier removal in existing buildings, regardless of renovations. Building codes do not come into play until renovations, alterations or new construction take place.


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