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Questions and Answers About ADA Compliance Requirements

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

ADA Compliance Requirements

Q: ADA compliance requirements apply to “public accommodations.” What does the term mean?

A: “Public accommodations” refers to places that are meant to be accessed by the general public. Examples include hotels, restaurants, parks, museums, libraries, schools (both public and private), day care facilities, medical clinics, and retail stores.

 

Q: Are there any public entities that are exempt from the ADA’s accessibility requirements?

A: Yes. Examples include religious facilities and private clubs.

 

Q: Are there limits on how much the ADA can expect of a public accommodation?

Y: Yes. The act cannot be used to force modifications that would “fundamentally alter” the nature of the service the accommodation provides. For example, the ADA cannot require a doctor who only treats burn victims to treat a person for deafness, instead of referring that individual to an appropriate specialist. This would force the physician to change his own area of specialization in order to accommodate the deaf person.

 

Q: Does the ADA require auxiliary communication aids for those with visual or auditory impairments?

A: To an extent, yes. Aids such as note takers or written notes might be required in an educational setting, for example. However, the act does not require public accommodations to provide auxiliary aids that would impose undue burdens on them. For example, a restaurant could not be forced to hire employees to feed persons who cannot hold utensils. These provisions are subject to interpretation on a case-by-case basis.

 

Q: Are there limitations on the act’s requirement to remove physical barriers to access?

A: Yes. Such removal is only required when doing so is “readily achievable.” Removing it must not necessarily entail excessive or burdensome difficulty or expense. For example, a hiking trail may be inaccessible to wheelchair-bound persons. However, altering it to give them access would be unreasonably burdensome on park officials

 

Q: I still have questions about the ADA. Can Burnham Nationwide help me?

A: Certainly. We are highly knowledgeable in all aspects of ADA compliance requirements. Contact us today for more information.

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The Nation’s Largest Cities: Local Building Codes

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

After last year’s tragic tsunami and earthquake in Japan, there was widespread destruction in that country. However, the destruction could have been much worse. Thanks to Japan’s forward thinking local building codes, many structures were insulated from the potential damages that they could have experienced. Because Japanese officials knew that natural disasters were constantly looming in the background, they wrote their building codes accordingly.

 

However, Japan is not the only place that has the foresight to include building codes that address the threat of natural disasters. Most of the major cities in our own country have local building codes that address their extreme weather patterns as well. These codes have been specially designed to protect the citizens of these cities from natural disasters and to protect the cities themselves from the large public expenditures that become necessary after large-scale destruction.  When a project manager wants to see how these codes affect their project, they can speak with a consultant from Burnham Nationwide who can advise them on the relevant codes.

 

In most cities, local building codes that address natural threats are as old as the city itself. For instance, a brief look at the history of New York City building codes reveals how their codes have changed over the last three centuries to address changing threats. For instance, codes were written in the 1600s as a response to fire threats just as they have been written in the last fifteen years to address the terrorist and hurricane threats of these decades.

 

Los Angeles has long been famed for its destructive earthquakes, and the city of San Jose has an average of three more natural disasters per year than the national average. To deal with these issues, the state of California and their respective municipal agencies have implemented a number of local building codes to address these issues. However, building codes are not the only way that officials deal with these problems. There are also state programs and tax credits in place to encourage making structures more resistant to natural disasters. For instance, the California Earthquake Authority, which is the non-profit state provider of earthquake insurance, has funded incentive programs that encourage homeowners to improve how well their homes can withstand damage. The latest program gave interested homeowners a $1,000 grant to help them retrofit their properties. Similar programs have been run to encourage changes in commercial structures as well.

 

Code writers in most areas tend to focus on the weather issues that are most common in that area, and typically, they only write the codes to address an occurrence of one problem at a time. Thus, buildings are often not built to withstand the occurrences of multiple disasters at the same time. For instance, the codes in Denver address the myriad of weather issues that can affect buildings in the mile high city. There are codes that address high winds, massive snow loads, and other issues. In most cases, these local building codes are well written and fairly comprehensive. For instance, project managers working in Denver will need to consult the “Colorado Front Range Gust Map” to ensure that their structures have been designed to adequately withstand the potential wind gusts in their area. These gusts may reach 100 mph for up to three seconds at a time, and thus, the codes have been written to ensure that buildings can withstand that. However, buildings made up to code may not be able to withstand the combination of extreme wind and snow or the less likely but still possible scenario of extreme wind with an earthquake.

 

The consultants at Burnham are able to advise their clients about weather related local building codes. However, they are also able to advise their clients about how to address the potential combination of extreme weather conditions that are usually not addressed by the local codes. Under the guidance of a Burnham consultant, project managers can be assured that their buildings meet codes, but they can also be assured that their buildings exceed the standards set by those codes as well.

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How Code Consulting Services Can Help You Save Money

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Professional code consulting services can save you a lot of time and money. Such a service will analyze the building plan and then work with the company to make sure that all aspects of the construction or renovation comply with local regulations. While it may cost a bit of money to hire such a service, it is more than worth it in the long run.

 

One particularly important service is getting a third party analysis of your proposed building plan. This analysis will help to pinpoint any aspects of the plan that would not meet municipal and ADA regulations. For minor home alterations, a permit may cost anywhere from $40 up to a few hundred dollars. However, the cost of submitting a permit for a large building will generally be a few thousand dollars. If the permit is rejected because some aspect of the building plan does not meet municipal regulations or ADA regulations, then the money spent on the permits will be lost.

 

It is also important to realize how much time can be lost by applying for a permit and then having it rejected. For minor home repairs, a permit may take up to two weeks to process; commercial building permits will always take longer than this. Having a permit rejected means that you not only lose money but also a lot of time.

 

Due diligence surveys for existing structures are also very useful. A thorough survey will ensure that the building does not in any way violate local laws and regulations. Consider the fact that constructing an apartment building may cost anywhere from $100 to $140 per square foot; larger commercial buildings cost more than this. You will naturally want to make sure the job is done right so that it will not have to be redone. You should also realize that you could be fined or even sued if some aspect of the construction is not up to par. The cost of this is hard to estimate, but it can be enough to bankrupt your business.

 

These are just a few examples of how code consulting services can save you a lot of time, hassle, and money. If you are looking for a professional service of this nature, then Burnham Nationwide is a good option. The company is well equipped to work on either residential or commercial projects and has the expertise needed to make sure the construction work goes well and that there are no errors the first time around.

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"Burnham is a first-rate operation. I rely on them to coordinate many of the permit-related tasks that I am too busy to do myself. I draw on their knowledge on changing municipal requirements, proactive problem solving and would definitely recommend them to others."
Rich Neubauer,
McDonald's
"I've had great success with Burnham for permit expediting, and recently learned they offer code consulting. They are great in meetings and provide excellent reports supported by detailed research and experience. I will use them whenever I have code issues on a project."
Jeff Kennedy,
Centaur Construction
"I like Burnham because their response time is terrific. They're professional with a systematic approach and solid corporate infrastructure - and their web-based system shows me exactly what is happening with my permits at all times."
Tom McCloskey,
The Related Companies, L.P.
"Working with Burnham makes the best use of my resources. It would be too costly for me to have staff who know as much as they do about the permit process."
Mike Moravek,
The John Buck Company
"Burnham is always a vital part of our Project Team. Their level of service and professionalism far surpasses their competition. The first call I make when a new project comes in is to Burnham."
Gregg Navins,
OMARA Organization, Inc
"We have tried other permit services in the past but only Burnham delivers the level of detail, follow through and accountability necessary to be successful in today's complex permit acquisition arena."
Dave Morgan,
The Body Shop
"Speed and efficiency are paramount, we aren't looking for just another layer of project management. Burnham gets the process due to their strong knowledge of jurisdictional requirements, and excellent working relationships with municipal staffs."
Glenn D. Middleton,
Design Forum
"We have come to rely heavily on Burnham's expertise... they have developed a professional consulting practice that we are proud to be associated with."
Michael T Clune,
Clune Construction Company