Should You Add ADA Inspections to Your Commercial Offerings?

Commercial inspections

Many owners of commercial buildings are concerned with being ADA-compliant.

If you do commercial inspections, you may want to also offer ADA inspection services.

The Americans With Disabilities Act, passed in 1990, prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities and thus provides for certain accommodations in areas open to the public. All new construction is subject to the ADA regulations; however, many existing commercial buildings are not required to retrofit to become ADA-compliant unless they remodel or a lawsuit is filed against them for noncompliance.

The law, however, requires businesses and nonprofits to remove barriers when it is “easily accomplishable.” This leaves a fairly wide gray area where one side can argue that simple changes could have been made to allow for easier accommodation, while the other side can argue the expense involved was prohibitive.

Government buildings and schools, however, are not afforded this leeway and must retrofit even if they are not new.

Training for ADA Compliance for Commercial Inspections

Being found in noncompliance with the ADA can cost a business a bundle. You might think that the commercial building inspector who certifies a building ADA-compliant would be trained and qualified, but in fact, the federal government has no licensure requirement for ADA-compliance inspectors.

So is a building compliant? Or not?

Whereas the rules are not overly complicated, according to an ASHI Reporter article, they are not brief, either. At over 275 pages, the ADA has a lot of highly specific requirements, including dimensions for signs, how many inches wide doorways and parking spots have to be, and more.

The Institute for Human Centered Design puts out a helpful checklist for commercial inspections for ADA compliance. It’s hyper-specific, spells everything out for you, and even includes pictures.

Going through this checklist will help you determine your price should you decide to offer this service. Depending on the size of the building, such a commercial inspection could take many hours to perform, plus many more hours to write up the report.

Taking Precautions with Commercial Inspections

Because of the risk — and cost — involved in making a mistake with ADA compliance certification, there is little room for error. If you offer this service, you should be confident the opinion you render will hold up in court, if need be.

Thus, you would do well to run the contract you sign with clients by your lawyer before advertising this service. Your lawyer may suggest contract language that exempts you from being sued if the business gets sued, or a clause that states no inspection is 100 percent guaranteed.

Commercial inspections

Ramps help bring commercial buildings into compliance with the ADA.

Whereas ADA compliance is most crucial with new buildings, in most of these cases local municipal building inspectors will be required to check and sign off on this rather than you, the commercial building inspector. The fact that they are often also not required to undergo any special training in this area might be surprising, but any resulting lawsuits will be the headache of the municipality that employs them.

If you are thinking of adding ADA inspections to your suite of offerings, take some time to look through the checklist to familiarize yourself with the regulations. Also, note how often a commercial establishment inquires about this service. If it’s frequently, you would probably do well to provide this service to your clients. If such requests are infrequent, offering the service may be more of a hassle than a benefit.

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