By John A. Salat

Current ADA laws are no longer limited within the scope of immediate work. Now the codes clearly address that ADA applies to a path of travel offsite from the public sidewalk to onsite including all the common ancillary spaces serving the interior of a building---Here are most frequently asked questions:

Q: What prompts a city for action for correction?
A: Most recently, city inspectors now make personal site appearances when prompted in plan check for T.I. and/or other alterations. This flag waving enables the inspectors to scrutinize the entire existing site for ADA violations and further request supplemental plans for submittal addressing ADA retrofitting.

Q: What will the inspector cite for?
A: Violations are not limited to the scope of new work, but now encompass the entire complex. These citations may be a along lists from exterior amenities to interior spaces.

Q: Generally what kind of work should expect to see happen?
A: Retrofit is an invent, every site invites interesting scenarios where many options are exercised during the ADA field analysis. Each site has to be treated on case by case while seeking solutions for "Barrier Free Design." The challenge is defining methods of alterations while maintaining integrity of the existing buildings. Often the result of retrofit may be a surgical chess game reducing one space to accommodate another.

Q: How expensive will this be?
A: Depending on the age of the facility, many commonalities for violations may exist. ADA retrofitting need not be costly. Some improvisions can be coordinated with various facility personnel. Remember the primary intent for ADA modernization is for true permanent means that amplify sincere reasonable efforts. Monetary limits, or "cost threshold" are formulated on the hardship rule -- on the first $80,700 spent, take 20 percent of the dollar of remodel work to apply for ADA retrofit. ($80,700 applies by averaging facility remodel work cost for last three years).

Q: What are the most common interior items for ADA violations?
A: Liberal space requirements for wheelchair maneuverability impacts space proportions such as toilet rooms, vestibules, and alcoves. Side and front clearances around doors are one of most frequent problem areas. Other violations are lacking Braille signs, upgraded alarms to audio/visual, and appropriate clearances for cabinets and lastly fixed accessories.

Q: What are the most common exterior items for ADA violations?
A: Lacking appropriate van stall parking and aisles space, non-conforming curb ramps, warped paving surfaces and exceeding slopes for wheel chair. Also, frequently most sites do not have offsite/onsite public access for disabled pedestrians.

Q: How do I know if I am violating ADA laws?
A: With changing laws and updates, one should undergo a detailed ADA facility analysis for all facilities by hiring a qualified consultant to analyze every item and draft a final report. This will inform the owner in advance of any area problems.

Q. How does an ADA survey assist me?
A: An ADA survey not only makes an assessment, but allows for a brief analysis of what needs to be done. An ADA report also establishes a master plan of corrections sequenced on priority to sensitivity proportioned against the budget. Also, a plan of action seeks for cost effective methods while implementing both immediate and long term goals. You don't want last minute retrofits, nor disrupt adjacent tenants during business hours.

Q: What are the risks of not complying with ADA? :
A: As a result, the city can postpone the occupancy and offset the move-in dates for tenants until the owner has made the appropriate corrections. Delays could result in a lawsuit with prospective tenant if corrections have not been made on time. Also, the cost of litigation due to a filed grievance may exceed the appropriate physical retrofit expense.

Q: Is there an appeal process?
A: Sometimes you can avoid unnecessary retrofit cost and work if technically unfeasible depending on circumstances of project improvement budget, building usage and size. Priority of retrofit ranks from the least to most expensive. When a facility remodel cost exceeds $120,700 over a three year period, it is unlikely an appeal will be granted. Appeals can be filed for major obstacles set back by major capital demands known as undue hardship. Despite code interpretation within your jurisdictions, if it is the law to make these adjustments, you must take the responsibility to comply.

Q: How do I get guidance on work to be done?
A: Building officials are not in position to give advice on how to comply with the requirements but are interested in the results. An experience licensed architect can assist in ADA design scheme options, produce detailed cost comparisons, and complete all paper work including construction drawings to satisfy local officials.

Q: What are the common complaints from the tenants on ADA?
A: Employment or consumer practices can be cumbersome with facilities not suited to serve those with disabilities. The Human Resource officer and their legal advisors are careful in site selection catered to type of business operation. Often you will find a prospective tenant asking the owner to sign agreements "Facility meets all ADA requirements."

Note to Readers:
This material is dated and subject to changing laws. This editorial are tools in challenging with your local authorities. John A Salat Architects are not legal representatives and recommend the owner consult with their advisor on contradictory interpretations to ADA and other related matters. Many ADA concerns and regulations often are interpreted differently. Sources from private, state and local levels may have conflicting requirements therefore we encourage professional consulting. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach us at (949) 235-4847

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copyright (c) 1996, John Salat, All rights reserved Note: This material is dated and may not apply to current status Last revised July 12. 1996,