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A $75,000 fine because my property is not ADA compliant; are you Serious?

By Jack L. Werner, Ph.D.
A to Z Inspections

When does ADA Compliance Requirements Apply?

Pretty much when your store or office, or your facility is open to the public.

Are there exceptions? Of course. Existing older buildings receive a great deal of leeway. Making adjustments to a structure that would cause excessive costs, for example.

Individual homes normally do not have to be compliant, but apartments and rental houses may have to comply.

How do I comply? Where are the requirements, the rules posted?

There are a number of different government compliance regulations (and thousands of pages):  ADA Accessibility Guidelines for buildings and facilities is at: access-board.gov.

Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards – UFAS accesiblesociety.org

Centers for Independent Living – virtualcil.net

Center for Accessible Society – accessiblesociety.org

Call your local (AHJ) authority having jurisdiction and ask if they will send someone out to advise you, at no charge, AND that the visit will NOT generate a fine or complaint. As far as I know, every town, city, county, parish, or state has someone designated for ADA Compliance. Make a list of concerns/questions and once you identify the contact person, communicate by email. (I want you to have a paper trail that shows you are doing everything you can to be in compliance.) Those folks want to help you comply.

If you are afraid to give your name personally, ask your attorney to make the call or ask your local Chamber of Commerce to make the call and/or to host a seminar inviting the designated ADA Compliance person to speak.

Hire an International Code Council approved (ADA) Accessibility Plans Examiner, (they will have an ICC certificate. Mine is #8486690) to write up what is out of compliance and a Transition Plan for what you need to do to fix things to be in compliance.

Fines, lawsuits, complaints can occur and sometimes appear unreasonable. My experience indicates that if you have a paper trail showing honest intent of moving steadily toward compliance; you dramatically reduce the likelihood of a fine, lawsuit, or complaint.

Jack L. Werner owns A to Z Inspections, a commercial and residential inspection company serving the southwest. He holds a degree in construction from OSU and numerous certifications including ICC (International Code Council)-Certified Accessibility/Plans Examiner, FORTIFIED™ evaluator, and Property Condition Assessment certification. He teaches home inspections for Francis Tuttle Career Tech. Designated an NAHB Master Instructor; he teaches Certified Aging in Place (CAPS) and Universal Design courses for the Oklahoma State Home Builders Association and was named the 2019 national CAPS educator of the year by the NAHB. He serves on the board of the Daily Living Centers and is a 40-year member of Rotary.

Jack can be reached at 405/412-7861 ext 2 or [email protected].

Learn more at atozinspectionsok.com.

Jack L. Werner of A to Z Inspections is a regular columnist for The City Sentinel newspaper.