Tenant Improvements Trigger Barrier Removal

Definition of an ALTERATION - A change, addition or modification in construction, change in occupancy or use, or structural repair to an existing building or facility. Alterations include, but are not limited to, remodeling, renovation, rehabilitation, reconstruction, historic restoration, resurfacing of circulation paths or vehicular ways, changes or rearrangement of the structural parts or elements, and changes or rearrangement in the plan configuration of walls and full-height partitions. 

I think it's pretty straight forward that when you make an alteration to your facility, that area of new construction is required to meet the current State and Federal standards. What many people don't know is that when you make an alteration, you are required to remove barriers to accessibility on the path of travel to that area of alteration. If the overall construction costs are below the valuation threshold ($156,162.00), the city will require you to allocate an additional 20% of the overall construction costs toward path of travel upgrades. If the alteration exceeds the valuation threshold, the city will determine the amount required for barrier removal.


Lets say you are remodeling your lobby and the construction costs are $100,000. In this scenario, you have a public entrance, parking lot, and restroom that serves the lobby. If there are any barriers to accessibility in any of those areas serving that lobby (area of alteration), you will be required to spend $20,000 on path of travel upgrades.  


This requirement affects both tenants and property owners that are altering their facilities. A tenant improvement on the 5th floor can trigger barrier removal all the way in the parking lot. California cities are really enforcing this requirement and often refusing to sign off on final construction until the facility has been surveyed by a CASp. For this reason, we recommend hiring a CASp prior to construction so that you can create a plan and budget for barrier removal. For more information, please call 619-736-8585.

Cory Cabral

Cory Cabral is our co-founder and Senior Certified Access Specialist. He graduated from San Diego State University with bachelors degree in Business Administration. After college he began his career in the sign industry where be became an expert in the field of ADA signage. During that time, he found that many of his clients were being put out of business because of ADA lawsuits. In most cases, the business owners simply did not know that their businesses had barriers to accessibility. He soon began searching for resources to help his clients avoid accessibility lawsuits and discovered the California Certified Access Specialist program. After immersing himself in all aspects of accessibility in the built environment by studying at the CalCasp Academy and the DSA, he became a California Certified Access Specialist. He is now CASp-630 and helps businesses limit exposure to ADA lawsuits by providing them with the resources necessary to make their products and services accessible to all.