ADA-Compliant Restroom Renovations

  March 24, 2011

I’m Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today’s topic is, ADA compliance.

In planning a restroom renovation, one of the first aspects maintenance and engineering managers must consider is ensuring compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA. To meet ADA requirements during renovations, managers must consider these factors:
• occupant count and fixture requirements
• space requirements
• structural requirements.

Most ADA-compliant renovations result in the loss of a stall or a urinal as a result of physical changes to meet the 5-foot diameter requirement for stalls. If the number of existing fixtures is appropriate for the code governing the area population, then losing a stall might require additional construction costs. Similarly, space requirements for an ADA-compliant stall might require realigning remaining stalls and stools.

One possible cost-saving option in this situation is to make the ADA-compliant stall the size of two existing stalls, exceeding the size needed for a compliant stall and avoiding the challenge of moving plumbing fixtures.

Structural requirements also come into play, such as those related to grab bars required in an ADA-compliant stall. Often, walls must be reinforced to accommodate the potential weight-bearing capacities of these bars. Failing to reinforce existing walls when installing grab bars can be problematic. In some cases, visitors to restrooms find grab bar in the handicap stall loose, detached or even hanging from the wall.

In one particular case, technicians had installed a grab bar in the wall using only mollies, which obviously could not support the weight applied to the grab bar. Granted, it would have cost more money to rectify the situation at that point, but the improper installation also created a hazard and an inconvenience for visitors.

The failure to consider this and the previously mentioned factors often results in higher construction costs and potential post-renovation costs.


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