Got my CASp Report … now what? Five steps to an actionable plan.

asking_questonsMy name is Robert, and I’m the Chief Operating Officer of Cranbrook Group, Inc.  We manage 2.5 million square feet of commercial, industrial and flex properties in the East Bay and Central Valley of California.

I first met Chris in 2010 at a seminar where he spoke about preventing ADA lawsuits and the importance of CASp (Certified Accessibility Specialist program).

Fast forward to 2013 … ADA Compliance Consultants, Inc. has since performed many CASp inspections on our properties and issued their official CASp Report.  The first time I received their 50+ page report, I’ll admit, I was overwhelmed and wondered how I was to make sense of it all.

No doubt there are many ways to tackle a CASp Report, but I found a way that makes sense for me and my property teams.  In talking with Chris, he thought you might benefit from a “user’s” perspective.

Five steps to make your CASp Report actionable.

Step 1 – I read it with a highlighter in hand.  When I say, I read it, really I skim it … I’m looking for the areas on the forms within the report that say I don’t comply with something.  My first step is to highlight those specific areas.

Step 2 – I look at the summary for each segment of the report.  ADACC puts their “action steps” at the end of each segment of the report.  I review this more carefully to understand where I don’t comply and what I need to do to comply.  In some cases, it may be something as simple as installing ADA signage.  In other cases, it may require more costly improvements.

Step 3 – I boil it down and transfer the recommendations to Excel (you can use whatever program you like).  The point is to get to the nitty gritty — detailing what’s not compliant and what I need to do to fix it.

Step 4 – I send the report to my asphalt/concrete vendor.  This step is super important, and it assumes you have a good relationship with your asphalt/concrete vendor (assuming most of the required work is exterior common area related, e.g., parking lots, sidewalks, curbs, ramps, etc.). If you don’t have a relationship with a quality asphalt/concrete vendor … get one!  It will help tremendously.

After sending the report to my vendor, I ask him to review the report and price what’s called out in the CASp Report.  Sometimes, my vendor will have to call the inspector who performed the CASp inspection to verify something, but ultimately, my vendor returns a scope of work and cost estimate for all items called out in the report.

Step 5 – Budgeting and Planning – This step is collaborative in the sense it involves my property teams, my vendor and my budget for both the current and future years.  Here’s what I mean (and this is important) …

Having a CASp Report without creating a plan (and doing your best to stick to it) is like having a doctor prescribe a course of treatment and you simply ignore it.  While you might get by for a period of time, ultimately it will come back to bite you.

The beauty of having a CASp Report (and pending certification) is that if you are sued, you would go to mediation.  At mediation, you would demonstrate you have a plan (what you plan to do year by year including a budget) and could prove that you’re sticking to it.

Without a plan (and your commitment to work the plan), you’re dead in the water — even with a CASp Report.

Back to Step 5 … collaborating with my property team and vendor, we plan out, year-by-year, what improvements we plan to make.  A multi-year plan allows me to budget ADA repairs without breaking the bank.

Understand that ADA Repairs, as important as they are, are still second to critical building systems like HVAC, electrical, roofing, etc.  For example, if you had budgeted to perform $10,000 worth of ADA Repairs on your building, and in the course of that year you had to install a new (un-budgeted) roof costing $90K, you could make the case that having a water tight building is a critical building system and, therefore, more important than performing ADA repairs.

Currently, for properties where an CASp Report has been issued, I have a 5-year plan that demonstrates what I’m doing (on paper) and how I’m tackling reducing barriers in my properties.

I’ll admit, any CASp Report is overwhelming.  It’s full of codes and boxes (checked and unchecked).  However, following these five steps will help you create a comprehensive plan that supports the purpose of CASp and, ultimately, help you comply with the ADA law.

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