On Tuesday I wrote a post about the use of knobs in an existing health care facility, and I mentioned that the IBC exempts 14 locations from compliance with the accessibility standards.  Several people have asked me to share those exceptions, so I will describe them in this post.  Before I do that, I want to say that the IBC Commentary includes some very enlightening information about accessibility at the beginning of Chapter 11 – Accessibility (you can buy the 2015 IBC Commentary here).  Although I can’t paste all of this information into this blog post, I will share a quote from the Commentary about the philosophy of the code with regard to accessibility…

“The fundamental philosophy of the code on the subject of accessibility is that everything is required to be accessible. This is reflected in the basic applicability requirement (see Section 1103.1). The code’s scoping requirements then address the conditions under which accessibility is not required in terms of exceptions to this general mandate. In the early 1990s, building codes tended to describe where accessibility was required in each occupancy, and any circumstance not specifically identified was excluded. The more recent codes represent a fundamental change in approach. Now one must think of accessibility in terms of ‘if it is not specifically exempted, it must be accessible.’ “

So what are these specific exemptions?  Here they are:

  • Employee work areas – doors within the work area are exempt – doors used to enter or exit the work area are not
  • Detached dwellings – 1- and 2-family residential dwellings
  • Utility buildings – Group U with the exception of agricultural buildings open to the public and garages that contain required accessible parking
  • Construction sites – including scaffolding, bridging, materials hoists, materials storage, and construction trailers
  • Raised areas – platforms used for security, life safety, or fire safety
  • Limited access spaces – accessed only by ladders, catwalks, crawl spaces, freight elevators or very narrow passageways
  • Areas in places of religious worship – raised or lowered areas used for religious ceremonies, that are less than 300 square feet and located 7 inches or more above or below the finished floor
  • Equipment spaces – used only by service personnel for maintenance, repair or occasional monitoring of equipment
  • Highway tollbooths – where access is provided only by bridges above the vehicular traffic or underground tunnels
  • Residential Group R-1 – which contain not more than five sleeping units for rent or hire that are also occupied as the residence of the proprietor
  • Day care facilities – where the facility is part of a dwelling unit, only the day care facility is required to comply with ICC A117.1
  • Detention and correctional – common use areas that are used only by inmates or detainees and security personnel, and that do not serve holding cells or housing cells required to be Accessible units
  • Walk-in coolers and freezers – intended for employee use only
  • Specific requirements – where Chapter 11 of the IBC exempts areas from specific accessibility requirements


Any questions?

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