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Chapter 6: Alterations

Regulatory references: 28 CFR 36.402-36.406; Appendix A.

III-6.3000 Alterations: Elevator exemption.

As under new construction, elevators are not required to be installed during alterations in facilities under three stories or with fewer than 3,000 square feet per floor, unless the building is a shopping center or mall; professional office of a health care provider; public transit station; or airport passenger terminal. As discussed below, "shopping center or mall" is defined differently for alterations than it is for new construction.

Does this mean that shopping centers, health care providers, and transit facilities have to install elevators every time they do alterations that would trigger a path of travel obligation involving vertical access? No. The 20 percent disproportion-ality limit discussed above applies and means that elevators are not required when installing them would exceed 20 percent of the cost of the original alteration (which will most often be the case).

But, if escalators or stairs are being planned where none existed before and major structural modifications are necessary, an elevator or platform lift may need to be installed, because ADAAG provides that, in such a situation, an accessible means of vertical access must be provided. However, elevators or lifts are never required to be installed during alterations if it is technically infeasible to do so.

Why is there a different definition of "shopping center or mall" for alterations as opposed to new construction? A "shopping center or mall" is defined in the alterations provisions as a series of existing buildings on a common site connected by a "common pedestrian route" above or below the ground floor. This definition was included to avoid a requirement for several separate elevators in buildings that were initially designed and built independently of one another. The common pedestrian route would allow access to all of the stores to be provided by a single elevator.

If an alteration is planned on the third floor of a building and an elevator is not required, do any other ADAAG requirements apply to the third floor? Yes. All other ADAAG requirements, aside from the requirement for an elevator, apply to the third floor.