View Full Version : Help with ADA requirements?

03-02-2011, 08:41 AM
I'm looking for a new building for our haunt. One building I'm looking at was constructed in 1894 and it has two stories. It has a freight elevator shaft that was dismantled years ago. The cost to repair the elevator is $80,000. I would like to operate the haunt on both floors, but I'm concerned about violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The past 13 years I've always accomdated wheelchairs in my haunts, but we only averaged 5 wheelchairs per year. It isn't worth spending this kind of money to accomodate wheelchairs. Has anyone else dealt with this?

Any advice? Are there exemptions to the ADA? I've been searching through various web sites, but I haven't found anything helpful yet.

Thanks for your assistance,


Dark Attraction
03-02-2011, 11:45 AM
Do a Google search for "wheelchair lift". I'm not sure if a device like that would actually work for your situation, but it might be worth looking into.

Dark Attraction
03-02-2011, 11:50 AM

171" max lift, 600 lb capacity, commercial lift. $4,299

03-02-2011, 06:27 PM
I appreciate the lead. Unfortunatly I don't think it will work with this building. The second floor is about 10' above the 1st floor. They do offer a chair lift that goes up the stairs, but I would hate to block a portion of the stairs with the rail needed for the lift.

Iíve done some digging and found the following guidelines in reference to ADA requirements. The info below may allow us to not have to install an elevator.

The Act includes an elevator exemption that does not require the owner to install an elevator in a facility that is being altered if it is less than three (3) stories, or less than 3,000 square feet per story. Buildings not covered by this exemption are a shopping center or mall, the professional office of a health care provider, a terminal, depot or other station used for specified public transportation, or an airport passenger terminal.

Readily Achievable - Alterations that can be easily achieved without much difficulty or expense. The factors determining readily achievable status include the nature and cost of the action and financial resources of the owner. Alterations include remodeling, renovation, rehabilitation, reconstruction, historic restoration, changes or rearrangements in the plan configuration of walls and full height partitions. The Act stipulates that changes to mechanical or electrical systems are not alterations unless they affect the usability of the building or facility.

If portions of a public accommodation can be brought into full or partial compliance in a readily achievable manner, they must be. New construction and alteration projects beginning after January 26, 1992, require that the altered area must be made accessible to the greatest extent possible. With particular regard to existing elevator systems, a large portion of these requirements may have already been met with only minor modifications being required for further compliance. When more drastic changes are deemed necessary, there are often several different approaches to addressing the same compliance issue. Taking the time and effort during this planning phase will often reveal the lowest cost means of achieving full compliance.

I've forwarded this information to my attorney and will let everyone know what I find out.


Dark Attraction
03-03-2011, 02:29 AM
Unless I am reading the info wrong, the lift I linked to goes over 14 feet?

It would still be pretty costly after installation, so hopefully the exemption you found will work.

03-07-2011, 07:45 PM
You are correct. I wasn't doing the math correctly. Their tallest one might work. We'll definately contact them to see what can be done. I'll have to figure out where to cut a hole in the floor to accomodate it.

I'm still hoping we can operate the first year or two without spending the money. It's hard to justify the expense for 4-5 wheelchairs a season.

Thanks for the tip.


Jim Warfield
03-18-2011, 09:38 PM
A local woman who is a professional property apprasier said (a yr. ago?) when she was in New York city there were restaurants she went to that had as many as 45 steps up stairs to enter the restaurant. Somehow they did not have to comply?
I seem to think it was a very fancy restaurant too not some portable "Dog" stand/thing.

03-19-2011, 11:18 PM
Read on into the ADA code. I am dealing with this issue now. You do not have to make the total building ADA complaint. They can only make you spend 20% of your renovation money on that. I am looking into purchasing a 3 story building and L&I just told me that as long as they have access to one floor which must include separate bathrooms, I am not required to put an elevator in or provide access to any other floors. So long as I am not providing a different "business" on another floor. I think some of this will come down to L&I's plan review.

Allen H
03-20-2011, 05:56 AM
Here is the section of code that I think pertains to you. Im also posting a link to the code here
http://www.access-board.gov/adaag/html/adaag.htm#4. ACCESSIBLE

4.1.3 Accessible Buildings: New Construction. Accessible buildings and facilities shall meet the following minimum requirements:

(1)(a) At least one accessible route complying with 4.3 shall connect accessible building or facility entrances with all accessible spaces and elements within the building or facility.

(b)* Court Sports. An accessible route complying with 4.3 shall directly connect both sides of the court in court sports. Appendix Note

(2) All objects that overhang or protrude into circulation paths shall comply with 4.4.

EXCEPTION: The requirements of 4.4 shall not apply within an area of sport activity.

I have to run, but i will pick through the code for you tonight and see what I find that pertains.
Allen H

(3) Ground and floor surfaces along accessible routes and in accessible rooms and spaces shall comply with 4.5.

EXCEPTION 1*: The requirements of 4.5 shall not apply within an area of sport activity. Appendix Note

EXCEPTION 2*: Animal containment areas designed and constructed for public use shall not be required to provide stable, firm, and slip resistant ground and floor surfaces and shall not be required to comply with 4.5.2. Appendix Note

(4) Interior and exterior stairs connecting levels that are not connected by an elevator, ramp, or other accessible means of vertical access shall comply with 4.9.

(5)* One passenger elevator complying with 4.10 shall serve each level, including mezzanines, in all multi-story buildings and facilities unless exempted below. If more than one elevator is provided, each passenger elevator shall comply with 4.10. Appendix Note

EXCEPTION 1: Elevators are not required in:

(a) private facilities that are less than three stories or that have less than 3000 square feet per story unless the building is a shopping center, a shopping mall, or the professional office of a health care provider, or another type of facility as determined by the Attorney General; or

(b) public facilities that are less than three stories and that are not open to the general public if the story above or below the accessible ground floor houses no more than five persons and is less than 500 square feet. Examples may include, but are not limited to, drawbridge towers and boat traffic towers, lock and dam control stations, and train dispatching towers.

The elevator exemptions set forth in paragraphs (a) and (b) do not obviate or limit in any way the obligation to comply with the other accessibility requirements established in section 4.1.3. For example, floors above or below the accessible ground floor must meet the requirements of this section except for elevator service. If toilet or bathing facilities are provided on a level not served by an elevator, then toilet or bathing facilities must be provided on the accessible ground floor. In new construction, if a building or facility is eligible for exemption but a passenger elevator is nonetheless planned, that elevator shall meet the requirements of 4.10 and shall serve each level in the building. A passenger elevator that provides service from a garage to only one level of a building or facility is not required to serve other levels.

EXCEPTION 2: Elevator pits, elevator penthouses, mechanical rooms, piping or equipment catwalks are exempted from this requirement.

EXCEPTION 3: Accessible ramps complying with 4.8 may be used in lieu of an elevator.

EXCEPTION 4: Platform lifts (wheelchair lifts) complying with 4.11 of this guideline and applicable State or local codes may be used in lieu of an elevator only under the following conditions:

(a) To provide an accessible route to a performing area in an assembly occupancy.

(b) To comply with the wheelchair viewing position line-of- sight and dispersion requirements of 4.33.3.

(c) To provide access to incidental occupiable spaces and rooms which are not open to the general public and which house no more than five persons, including but not limited to equipment control rooms and projection booths.

(d) To provide access where existing site constraints or other constraints make use of a ramp or an elevator infeasible.

(e) To provide access to raised judges' benches, clerks' stations, speakers' platforms, jury boxes and witness stands or to depressed areas such as the well of a court.

(f)* To provide access to player seating areas serving an area of sport activity. Appendix Note

EXCEPTION 5: Elevators located in air traffic control towers are not required to serve the cab and the floor immediately below the cab.

Matt Marich
03-20-2011, 04:26 PM
Great information Allen, this is what these boards should be about! Helping each other!

03-22-2011, 04:24 PM
I appreciate the responses. I got confirmation from our building inspector that we don't need to provide an elevator if this building is less than 3 stories. I used the information from posts above to share with him.

Thanks everyone for your tips!!!

03-23-2011, 01:02 PM
I believe only a section of your haunted house must be wheelchair assessible so they can at least see part/most of the haunt. Just like many haunts in even California (such as the Santa Cruz haunt) where most of the haunt is not wheelchair assessible, but a portion of it is to make it legal. Talk with your city officials.

Allen H
03-23-2011, 02:05 PM
I recommend reading the code first and looking for answers to your questions, then calling to clarify. Inspectors can get annoyed when you dont even try to find the answer yourself first. On the other hand NEVER act like you know more about the code than the inspector, Marshal, whoever. They interpret the code. So look it up then Check to clarify.
Allen H