It used to be that a property owner or manager could call up their trusted contractor and get them to seal and re-stripe their parking lot without ever having a conversation with the building department.
Likewise, there was a time, not to long ago, when you could remove an asphalt built up ramp that cut into your sidewalk and install a new curb cut ramp or install a small asphalt overlay to the disabled parking stall area without permission from your local building agency.
Well, I’m here to tell you those days are gone … especially when it comes to ADA construction projects.
Now, insurance companies as well as building departments are requiring that all ADA work be permitted, inspected and signed off by a CASp inspector. The majority of building departments are even requiring a set of drawings for a seal and re-stripe project to ensure proper ratio, placement, size, color layout, signage and even disbursement of the disabled parking stalls through out the property.
At first glance, it’s easy to get upset or think that something has gotten out of control and that it’s a big waste of time and money for something so simple. I know, I used to think the same thing. But you know what I have come to realize? There are too many contractors making simple mistakes that wind up costing the property and business owners out there a lot of money and headaches.
A perfect example is a project I just inspected … it’s a newly remodeled 1960’s retail shopping center that was completed in June of this year.
The owner completed an entire face-lift to the exterior of all the buildings on site as well as new concrete walkways and door landings at each of the tenant doors. The building inspector informed the owner that due to the cost of the project, he was required to bring all of the disabled parking, curb ramps and the path of travel from the public sidewalk into compliance.
The owner chose NOT to have the architect draw up the plans for these repairs. Instead, he instructed the contractor to simply get it done and make it compliant.
So that’s what the contractor did — get it done that is. He got busy replacing several disabled parking stall locations that required asphalt overlays installed to correct surface slope. In addition, the contractor provided all new striping, signage and new curb cut ramps with truncated domes.
It looked great, but it was nowhere near compliant!
Out of the entire project only a few areas met compliance, and that’s when it all hit the fan!
It got really messy for the owner and contractor, but we were able to produce construction documents detailing out the various areas that needed to be fixed, saving the owner and his contractor a lot of money and time.
As I walked the property with the owner looking at the final repairs. he turned to me and said, “You know, it cost less to have you produce construction documents for this entire project than to re-do just one of these curb ramps!”
Building departments in California have been under fire for years due to the highly litigious environment surrounding ADA, and this is one of the ways that they are protecting themselves.
The lesson here is simple. Protect yourself. Do it right the first time, and know that we can help! Don’t be “penny-wise” and “pound foolish”.