Accessibility and Restroom Renovations

  October 11, 2010

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

Restrooms offer maintenance and engineering managers major opportunities to produce numerous benefits for institutional and commercial facilities, including compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

To meet ADA requirements during restroom renovations, managers must consider such factors as: occupant count and fixture requirements; space requirements; and structural requirements.

Most ADA-compliance renovations result in the loss of a stall or a urinal as a result of changes to meet the 5-foot diameter requirement for stalls. If the number of existing fixtures is appropriate for the code governing the area’s population, the loss of a stall might require additional construction costs.

Similarly, space requirements for an ADA-compliant stall might require realigning the remaining stalls and stools. One possible cost-saving option is to make the ADA-compliant stall the size of two existing stalls, exceeding the size needed for a compliant stall but eliminating the need to move plumbing fixtures.

Structural requirements also come into play with grab bars required in the ADA stall. Often, walls must be reinforced to accommodate the potential weight-bearing capacities of these bars.

Omitting reinforcement of existing walls when installing grab bars can be problematic. In one example, the grab bar in a handicap stall in one facility was detached and hanging from the wall. On further inspection, inspectors discovered the grab bar had been installed into the wall using only mollies, which obviously could not support weight applied to the grab bar.

The problem not only cost more money to rectify at that point. It also created a hazard and an inconvenience for the public. The failure to consider this and the previously mentioned factors too often results in higher construction costs and potential post-renovation costs.


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