Accessibility Requirements and Guidelines
Accessibility is an important component of Arlington County’s building regulations, with the goal of providing equal access to all people, regardless of physical ability. As you begin a renovation or addition project to a commercial building (one- and two-family buildings are exempt), determine the accessibility needs and requirements early, following these guidelines and budgeting appropriately.
Arlington County, like many communities, follows the ICC International Building Code (IBC) as part of the Virginia Uniform Building Code (VUSBC). The IBC is the most widely adopted code in the United States, and it meets the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Every community that uses the IBC in its legislation can adapt the code to its specific needs. In this case, the Arlington County Building Department can only enforce parts of the law that deal with built environment within a given side. These provisions do not address public right-of-way.
The Arlington County Inspection Services Division (ISD) requires that you submit two items for consideration:
- The Accessibility Compliance form with all construction documents for alteration and addition to all buildings (with the exception of one- and two-family dwellings.)
- A cost-disproportionality statement signed and sealed by a Virginia-registered design professional and/or the building owner. The statement must specify the improvements to be made to the path of travel within the 20% prescription.
Project Requirements and Budget
The VUSBC requires that when a commercial building an alteration or addition is made to an area containing a “primary function,” additional funds must be spent to make an accessible “path of travel,” as long as the cost of making an accessible path of travel is not disproportionate to the cost of construction.
- “Primary function” areas include, but are not limited to, spaces such as lobbies, dining areas, meeting rooms and other areas in which public/private activities are carried out.
- “Path of travel” is the route that one would take from the building entrance to the altered area, as well as the route to all bathrooms, telephones, and drinking fountains serving the altered area. Path of travel also includes the areas containing these services and the fixtures and elements therein.
- ”Disproportionality” is defined as 20% of the cost of adding to or altering a primary function area. This means that if someone were to spend $1,000 to alter a primary function area, he/she would have to spend up to an additional $200 towards creating an accessible path of travel. VUSBC also lists items, in order of priority, to which the 20% additional cost figure applies.
Please contact us at (703) 228-3800 if you have questions about the disproportionality rule or if you need additional information.