When working on a construction project, it is important to take steps to ensure the final results will be fully in compliance with the ADA and FHA requirements. This isn’t always as easy as it should be since there is a lot of conflicting information out there, and the requirements get changed and updated. The following are some important areas that should be checked before completing any project.
1. One Wheelchair Accessible Entrance
When it comes to making an entrance or exit to a structure, many people believe that they all need to be wheelchair accessible. The fact is, however, that only one entrance in a public building needs to be easily accessed. This can make a project much easier to plan and build since there are fewer requirements in these areas. When making the wheelchair accessible entrance, however, it is important to ensure it is wide enough to fit through (typically 60”+) and that the automatic door opener is easily reachable from a wheelchair.
2. Designing the Bathrooms Properly
The ADA has very specific requirements when it comes to how the bathroom, and specifically the toilet, is installed. These requirements include:
- The top of the seat must be between 17’’ and 19’’ from the floor.
- The center point of the toilet must be between 16’’ and 18’’ from the side walls.
- There must be at least 60’’ of turning room so that a wheelchair can properly maneuver.
- Open space under a sink does not count in measuring these areas.
- Grab bars must be installed on the side walls and behind the toilet.
3. Installing Light Switches
Placing light switches, electrical outlets, and other essential items is something that needs to be carefully considered. These items must be able to be easily reached and operated by those who are in a wheelchair. If you are building a multi-family home, it is also necessary to have the thermostat or other environmental controls accessible.
4. Ground Floor Only
It is common to assume that all the ADA and FHA requirements will apply to an entire building, but that is not always the case. If your project has two or more floors, but no elevator, than the locations on the upper floors don’t have to meet these requirements. This is a common situation for apartment buildings and other multi-family homes.
5. Don’t Leave it to ChanceThe ADA and FHA have a lot of requirements that builders need to be aware of, and they aren’t always clear. If you are ever questioning what needs to happen in a given situation, it is a good idea to consult with an experienced construction law attorney who can provide customized advice. Please contact FCLG to discuss your situation and get the help you need.