Enforcing ADA Standards

  • Kevin Rowe
  • Assistant Project Manager
  • Rafn Company

Over the last few years the construction industry's view toward accessibility has gone through substantial changes. The rules, for the most part, have gone unchanged for decades. What is new is the level of enforcement. Typical architectural detailing, construction practices, and acceptable construction tolerances have butt heads with the letter of the law, with the letter of the law interpretation landing the winning punch.

This increase in the level of enforcement is leading developers to hire independent consultants specializing in accessibility to review and inspect projects. Consultants review plans and walk projects throughout the various stages of construction looking for accessibility hotspots. When getting it right to a fraction of an inch is required, diligence and accuracy on both the design and construction teams is required.

Getting the accessibility detailing correct at the earliest stage of design has now become as integral to the success of a project as making sure your building fits within the property lines. Before construction, the design team and contractor must work through a design review focusing on accessibility and targeting known hotspots including the following:

  • 2% Ramps
  • Egress Path Clearances and Obstructions
  • Entry Clearances
  • Restroom Clearances
  • Kitchen Clearances

During construction, subcontractor meetings must include discussions about accessibility. Multiple trades working to create a finished space all operating on their own industry standards is a recipe for disaster. Thoughtful review and coordination of building components, shop drawings, and material characteristics is required to ensure the overall compliance of the finished product.

Completing an accessibility compliant project is not an impossible task but it does take a cohesive team making it a priority.

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