Changes On The Way For California’s New 2013 Building Code – Part 1 of 6

Note:  This is part 1 of 6 posts that focus on upcoming
changes to the 2013 California Bu
ilding Code that will become effective in January 2014.

Path of Travel Requirements in Alterations, Additions & Structural Repairs


Just when most of us in California were getting used to the current 2010 building codes, they go and change it on us!

Well, guess what?

The 2013 California Building Codes are being introduced, and they go into effect in January 2014. Unlike the cycle change from 2007 to 2010, this change is massive. A new numbering system and numerous code changes will result in a significant impact on all of us.

ADA Compliance Consultants has received our official copy, and our entire staff is pouring through it updating our inspection forms and standard detail sheets in the design department. We will be ready well before these new codes become active.

In order to help educate as many of our clients as possible between now and January 1, 2014, ADACC has decided to produce a 6-month series of articles that will highlight some of the most important changes to the California codes before they become enforceable.

In this first of six articles, we have decided to focus on the accessible elements that are called into question during almost every tenant improvement and upgrade project.

Additions to existing buildings and facilities are always required to comply with new construction standards unless it is found to be “Technically Infeasible” to do so.  Only your local building agency can make the determination of this “infeasible” status, and it must be recorded and entered into the files.

Path Of Travel requirements in alterations, additions and structural repairs are very common no matter what type of alteration project is taking place.

When alterations or additions are made to existing buildings or facilities, an accessible path of travel to the “specific area of alteration or addition” must be provided. This primary accessible path of travel shall include:

  1. A primary entrance to the building or facility
  2. An accessible restroom serving this area
  3. An accessible Hi Lo drinking fountain serving this area
  4. An accessible public telephone serving this area
  5. Accessible signage within this area

EXCEPTION #2 (from the California Building Code, 2013):

If any of the above listed elements of the path of travel have just been constructed or altered in compliance with the accessibility requirements of the immediately proceeding edition of the California Building Code, you will not be required to retrofit these elements to reflect the incremental changes in this code solely because of an alteration to an area served by those elements of the path of travel.

EXCEPTION #3  (from the California Building Code, 2013):

Additions or alterations to meet accessibility requirements consisting of one or more of the following items shall be limited to the actual scope of work of the project and shall not be required to comply with the above mentioned “Path of Travel” requirements:

  1. Altering one building entrance
  2. Altering one existing toilet room
  3. Altering existing elevators
  4. Altering existing steps
  5. Altering existing handrails

Alterations solely for the purpose of barrier removal undertaken pursuant to the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act (Public Law 101-336, 28 C.F.R, section 36.304) or the accessibility requirements of this code consisting of one or more of the following items shall be limited to the actual scope of work of the project and will NOT “Trigger” other requirements:

  1. Installing ramps
  2. Making curb cuts in the sidewalks and entrances
  3. Repositioning shelves
  4. Rearranging tables, chairs, vending machines, display racks, and other furniture.
  5. Repositioning telephones
  6. Adding raised markings on elevator control buttons
  7. Installing flashing alarm lights
  8. Widening doors
  9. Installing offset hinges to widen doorways
  10. Eliminating a turnstile or providing an alternative accessible route
  11. Installing accessible door hardware
  12. Installing grab bars in toilet stalls
  13. Rearranging toilet partitions to increase maneuvering space
  14. Insulating lavatory pipes under sinks to prevent burns
  15. Installing a raised toilet seat
  16. Installing full length bathroom mirror
  17. Repositioning the paper towel dispenser in restroom
  18. Creating designated accessible parking spaces
  19. Removing high-pile, low density carpeting

Alterations of existing parking lots by resurfacing and/or restriping, replacement of signs or identification devices, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, re-roofing, electrical work not involving placement of switches and receptacles, cosmetic work such as painting, equipment, computer terminals and office equipment shall be limited to the actual scope of work and does not “trigger” the requirements for additional upgrades.

I know that was a mouthful, but I had to get this out there. Stay tuned for the rest of this series that will focus on other changes to the new 2013 California Building Code that takes effect in January 2014.

Our offices receive numerous calls every week from clients asking about many of these codes and requirements, and we experience first hand the break down that occurs between architects, contractors and the local building agencies when dealing with these issues.

As always, we welcome your call or email if we can assist you.  We look forward to hearing from you!

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One Response to “Changes On The Way For California’s New 2013 Building Code – Part 1 of 6”

  1. Rodolfo de Hoyos December 25, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

    Does the new regulations/law state whether all mercantile businesses are required to allow access under title I and title III three of the ADA to bathroom facilities as an occupant of the business whether or no they off public restrooms?

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