Top ten questions to ask your Certified Access Specialist before signing the contract

I just wrapped up two weeks of non-stop travel, teaching and training over three hundred individuals. During my travels, I heard lots of questions about ADA and I want to share my insights directly with you, including the top ten questions to ask a CAS (Certified Access Inspector) before performing an inspection.

Here’s a glimpse at some of the talented folks I met along the way …

Working with Johnny Goetz, Chief Building official for the Town of Truckee, I had the privilege to speak to local Architects, Engineers, Designers, landlords and property managers during a morning training session that focused on understanding ADA and the California access codes and how to protect ourselves from these ADA activist predators!

After lunch we took it up a notch, and I spoke to a packed house consisting of local building department plan checkers, CASp inspectors, building officials and code enforcement personnel.

The next morning I spoke with two-defense attorneys in Santa Clara to another full house of business owners, landlords and property managers. Everyone in the room was very concerned about the number of ADA lawsuits being filed locally and the negative impact it has on many small business owners.

A few days later I spoke to a standing room only group of business owners, landlords and property managers in Modesto. The common theme with all three of these presentations was the intensity of the crowd and the type of questions asked.

I completed the week in Southern California with a great training session with local owners, landlords, property managers and defense attorneys.

Many individuals in attendance told me that they had recently hired a local CASp inspector and obtained a report yet were frustrated with the lack of communication from the CASp Inspector or disappointment with the quality of the report.

Those who had a CASp had no working knowledge of SB1608 or SB1186 and how the “Casp Program” is designed to help business owners and landlords reduce their liability and exposure by producing a common sense barrier removal plan.

The basic building blocks of the CASp process are:

  • Hire a CAS (Certified Access Inspector) to inspect your facility
  • Obtain an inspection report that identifies all ADA barriers on your property
  • Put a dollar amount to removing each barrier
  • Budget for and ultimately remove all barriers

Seems simple enough right?

Maybe! But most barrier removal plans are not simple and many things can go Top 10 red speech bubblewrong if not planned properly.

We all know that in order to remove physical barriers on our properties we need to know what the barriers are, how to actually remove them properly and that a contractor in most cases is needed to complete the work.

So why is it that so many CAS inspectors don’t prepare their clients for the remaining stages of the CASp process once the report is completed?

Here are the top 10 questions you should ask before hiring a Certified access specialist:

  1. What services do you provide?
  2. Do you merely identify specific barriers on my property or do you help me itemize and prioritize my on-going barrier removal plan?
  3. What barriers are typically considered “readily achievable” and which are not?
  4. How long have you been an access specialist, and how can your experience and knowledge help minimize my need for other vendors?
  5. Do you provide a written detailed scope for removing barriers in your report?
  6. Do you produce construction documents for removing barriers or do I need to hire an architect?
  7. Do you provide unlimited phone & email service for my contractor, building inspector or my attorney or is that extra?
  8. Will you or your staff answer my phone calls live during business hours or do I have to leave a message and wait for you to call me back?
  9. Are you available for weekend or after business hour inspections?
  10. Do you return after the construction is complete to certify my property?

Some of these questions came up in a conversation I had with a Southern California landlord earlier this week. He had just wrapped up a two-year barrier removal project that involved hiring a CAS inspector to identify barriers on one of his properties. Then he hired an Architect to make sense of the report and design the construction documents. After that, he hired a contactor to complete the work. He asked the CASp inspector to come back and certify the work completed by the contractor and was told they don’t provide this service. He contacted his Architect to see if they could certify the work and was told it would be several thousands of dollars to provide the certification.

He told me that it was like hiring three different vendors to paint his house. One person to clean and prepare the surface of the house. One to mask off and tape all the doors and windows, and finally … one to paint the house! Crazy!

He experienced a breakdown in communication between the vendors and conflicts developed that ultimately increased the projects costs and timeline.

It’s unfortunate that what happened in his project happens everyday throughout the nation. I encourage everyone looking for a certified access specialist to ask lots of questions and find out what services they offer and what is included in the contract.

Now, more than ever, we must reduce expenses, streamline our efforts and get smarter about how we maintain our properties.

If you have any questions regarding your on-going barrier removal programs or need a fresh look at your property, please contact me directly.

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