Retrofits: Ensuring ADA Compliance

  June 4, 2014

For maintenance and engineering managers overseeing construction and renovation project in institutional and commercial facilities, there are two key steps to take to ensure that the project is fully compliant. The first is to perform a jurisdictional analysis.

Managing projects that result in fully accessible and compliant facilities requires a thorough analysis of the range of accessibility regulations that may be applicable to a specific project. The analysis will help determine, at the early planning stage, how many of what must be accessible. Do all public entrances have to be accessible, 50 percent or just one? This jurisdictional analysis must be done at the beginning of the project and reviewed at key milestones.

The specific questions that should be asked depend in part on the state that the project is in. However, typical key questions include:
  • Is the facility's owner a government or private entity?
  • If it is a private entity, does it receive any public financial assistance — not just for the specific building project?
  • Is the facility open to the general public or used by employees only?
  • Is the project new construction, an addition or an alteration?

In alteration projects, ask the following: Are "primary function" areas being altered? What is the cost of the planned alterations? For multifamily housing projects, additional questions include: Is the housing being developed by a state or local government agency? How many units? Are the units for rent or sale?

The second step is to knowing the resources.

Having in-house expertise is the easiest source for answering accessibility questions as they arise during projects. Every organization should designate someone to become familiar with the federal laws and regulations as well as the requirements of the states in which the organization has facilities. But the accessibility issues for many projects are not straightforward, and second opinions or interpretations are often warranted.


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