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Working Out of Home & Accessibility

With the change in economy over recent years, more and more people are working out of home. It saves on expense, it saves on commuting time, and it allows you to work around the clock which has both its advantages and disadvantages. The question that should come up, but maybe doesn’t is, ‘Do I need to make my home office accessible?’

And of course, the answer on this is, it depends. If you never have clients, or employees, or vendors come to your home office, then there are no Accessibility requirements. This presumes you do all of your work on the internet, or phone, or go to your clients offices to meet, or some other kind of conferencing if you need to interface with people.

On the other hand, if you have anyone come to your home office, whether clients, vendors, or employees, then the portion of the house used for work or that are overlapping work with residential is considered a commercial facilities and should be accessible. This would include the path of travel from the street to the entry, to the office space including the hallway and bathroom used by a visitor. All of these elements should be accessible. And if you have parking on your property used for your guests, then an accessible parking stall should also be provided.

If you have employees working out of your home office you should be aware of common use circulation paths per ADAS. The CBC has requirements for employee only areas but that pertains to any alterations you perform to the space. Typically, employee only work areas need to be on an accessible route but this has changed with the 2010 ADAS.

So if you have a home office where the public does come, be aware of height changes in your path of travel, whether steps, or thresholds, or uneven walkways, or thick carpeting, and clear widths along the full route. Doors should have the correct clearances with the appropriate clear floor space on both sides of the doors along with compliant hardware and force to operate. Notice protruding and overhanging objects along this route which can include wall sconces projecting more than 4” or hanging light fixtures below 80” or landscaping that needs to be trimmed back. And a restroom, if available, and on-site parking, if exists, should also comply.

Be aware that your local City or County may have additional requirements that are more restrictive than the State or Federal requirements. Also, this article is an interpretation and opinion of the writer. It is meant as a summary – current original regulations should always be reviewed when making any decisions.

© Janis Kent, Architect, CASp 2013