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Impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments of 2008 on Commercial Real Estate: Part 2

April 14, 2013
»Commercial Real Estate

Post 2 of 3: Considering a New Construction or Major Renovations? Check with the ADA.

In our first post of this series, we discussed how to determine whether your building or business is subject to regulations set forth under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities.  The ADA was amended, effective January 1, 2009, with some key language regarding construction or renovation of building facilities.  Title III of the ADA addresses places of public accommodation, directly impacting commercial real estate owners.  We’ve provided a brief synopsis of the requirements that have the most impact on commercial real estate.

Title III of the ADA requires that all newly constructed facilities housing places of public accommodations (defined in our previous post), as well as commercial facilities such as office buildings, be “accessible” to individuals with disabilities.  The standards for accessibility are set out in the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.  Commercial facilities must adhere to these standards for all new construction, as well as any alterations that could affect the “usability” of a facility.

When your facility undertakes a renovation or “alteration”, you must ensure, to the “maximum extent feasible”, that your facility remains appropriately accessible.  One such requirement is that the path of travel to the altered area and the bathrooms, telephones, and drinking fountains are readily accessible and usable to people with disabilities, where doing so isn’t disproportionate in terms of cost and scope to the overall alteration.  “Disproportionate” is defined as more than 20% of the cost of the overall alteration.

The 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design lay out the timeline for compliance for both new construction and alterations, and address the full range of standards generally, and for specific types of facilities, such as historic places, hotels, amusement facilities, swimming pools, and medical care facilities.  The Standards provide detailed instruction as to accessible dimensions, means of egress, stairways, windows, ramps, handrails, and bathrooms for places of public accommodation, to name only a few.

The Department of Justice also publishes Guidance which provides commentary and interpretation for the Standards.

Printable copies of both the Standards and Guidance can be found here.

If you are constructing a new building, or just taking on a long-awaited renovation, you should review these requirements carefully to ensure that you are in compliance with the ADA, making your premises both accessible and useful to individuals with disabilities.

Read the rest in our series:

Part 1

Part 3

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